Fist of the Blue Sky (Souten no Ken), is a prequel to Fist of the North Star by Tetsuo Hara, with plot supervision by original writer Buronson, that was published in the Weekly Comic Bunch from its debut issue in 2001 and throughout the magazine's final issue in 2010.
Kasumi Kenshiro was a bumbling, bespectacled literature professor in 1935 Japan, playfully joking around with his students in the Towa Women's College at Tokyo... or so he seemed to be. The unusually large yet mild mannered scholar was invited to a restaurant by an aging Chinese gentleman called Li, who served as a poison taster for the Last Emperor of China. Just as the duo started to reminisce on old times spent amongst The Triads and the Tongs, said-Chinese Emperor's Assassins held Kenshiro at gunpoint, "inviting" him to fulfill his "centuries old duty" as the Emperor's bodyguard, only to have their heads painfully and literally popped open from the inside as he gingerly struck hidden points across their faces with but a single finger.
It turns out that Professor Kasumi is none other than Yan Wang, the "King of Hell," the 62nd successor to Hokuto Shinken and the future uncle of Kenshiro, the Century's End Savior who will bring peace to a world torn apart by nuclear fire many decades later.
Back in 1935, Kasumi Kenshiro returns to Shanghai where he tore a bloody swathe across the Chinese Underworld a year ago by the side of his Peng-You (Friend) Pan Guang-Lin, Dai Lo (Big Brother) of the Ching Bang (Turquoise Brotherhood) Triads; to wipe out the Hong Hua Hui (Red Flower Organization) Triads for murdering his sworn-brother Guang-Lin.
Since his departure to protect Guang-Lin's little sister from bloody feuds of Hokuto-Shinken's legacy, the corrupt Hong Hua Hui, allied with the French Government, has all but wiped out the Ching Bang. The Hong Hua Hui leaders have been rendered grotesque Clock Punk cyborgs after being disfigured by Kenshiro yet living to gloat about it. Kenshiro did warn them to "get out of Shanghai" after literally popping their arms, jaws, spines and legs open. Crime bosses, however, are just too proud to listen.
Soon upon returning to the infamous "Devil City" of the 1930s, not only does Kenshiro have to contend with the warfare of The Triads and the Tongs, he will clash head on with three rival Hokuto branches (each inheriting the names of the Sun, Cao and Liu factions from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms era), jealous with the superiority of the master branch, Hokuto Shinken.
Centuries of hate clash with brotherhood and honor as Shanghai is set to explode with the flames of open war.
Though superficially sharing thematic elements of the Martial Arts from North Star, Blue Sky is first and foremost a Crime Drama with occasional martial arts thrown into its rich, somber, smoky mix.
An anime was first released in in October 2006 and lasted 26 episodes.
In 2017, Fist of the Blue Sky: RE:GENESIS began serialization in Comic Zenon and serves to continue Kenshiro Kasumi's story after the original manga ceased publication in 2010 alongside Weekly Comic Bunch. An anime adaptation of this sequel manga began broadcast in April 2018.
This show provides examples of:
- Alternate History: The anime adaptation of Fist of the Blue Sky: RE:GENESIS makes Souten no Ken, and by extension the entire universe of Hokuto no Ken, into this by revealing that the atomic bomb was first developed by Erika Arendt's father Robert Arendt in the 1930s, rather than the historical Manhattan Project under the direction of J. Robert Oppenheimer during World War II. Horrified by the implications of his invention, he destroyed all his notes and plans and made Erika memorize the bomb's design (shown to be similar in design to the "Fat Man" implosion-type bomb that was dropped on Nagasaki) before he died and Liu Fei-Yan took her to safety.
- Amnesiac Lover: Pān Yù-Líng. Not only did Máng Kuáng-Yún erase her memory, he put a Booby Trap in her brain so that Kenshiro cannot directly tell her about their shared past.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Kenshiro is very prone to doing everything on his own and belittling his opponents at every turn. Zhang Tai-Yan even notes, that when Kenshiro stands in the pool of his own blood, and his opponent is completely unharmed, he probably should stop acting like he's invincible. Kenshiro's habit of talking down to his opponents might be justified, as a way of provoking them into attacking rashly, but his overconfidence bites him in the ass a couple of times, when he avoids death only through factors beyond his control.
- Authority Equals Asskicking - Liu Zong-Wu (Gestapo Captain) and Zhang Tai-Yan (Sub-Boss of the Hong Hua Hui Triads), both Grand Masters of their respective Hokuto schools of Martial Arts.
- Badass Bookworm: Kenshiro is a Literature Professor at a Women's University, after all. He makes bookstore owners cry by quickly reading every book in their shops without buying a single one...
- Badass Israeli: Yasaka. Holy crap, just Yasaka.
- Bad Future: A vision of one is what ultimately led Shuken, founder of Hokuto Shinken, to massacre all members of the Seito Gekken. Specifically, a vision of Seito Gekken practitioners abusing their skills to become mercenaries and assassins for hire and bring about untold suffering. This vision is also what led him to establish Hokuto Shinken's Master-Apprentice Chain.
- Been There, Shaped History: Hokuto Shinken practitioners tend to do it.
- Kasumi Kenshiro has literally slapped-up The Last Emperor of China, not to mention clashing with the Kuomintang, then ruling party of Nanjing's republican government and China's nominal seat of power.
- Considering who said Last Emperor is... doesn't sound that hard.
- And Kuomintang, seeing it as a matter of Chinese honor (and prestiege of the National Revolutionary Army in such a time of turmoil as Kenshiro killed one of their generals- even though every Kuomintang official agrees that the said general had it coming) and not really an act of war, have refrained from just employing army troops to gun him down and insisted on defeating him fair-and-square with the best Chinese martial artist they can find. Therefore Chiang Kai-Shek and company got their Generic Handsomeness treatment.
- Shuken, the founder of Hokuto Shinken, is strongly implied to be responsible for the fall of the Kushan Empire (the strongest component of the Yuezhi Confederation) by killing off the practitioners of Seito Gekken, their until then invincible martial art, shortly before a neo-Persian invasion overran their heartland.
- Kasumi Kenshiro has literally slapped-up The Last Emperor of China, not to mention clashing with the Kuomintang, then ruling party of Nanjing's republican government and China's nominal seat of power.
- Berserk Button: Crime bosses tend to be homicidally sensitive about the freakish appearance of the cybernetic replacements to the limbs Kenshiro mutilated off them, or their inborn deformities. In particular, do NOT remind Zhang Lie-Shan, the giant boss of the Hong Hua Hui just how tall he is if you value your skeleton intact. See I Am Big Boned below for more details.
- Black-and-Gray Morality: Though innocent people don't (usually) die in the crossfires of the Shanghai underworld's civil war, one still has to remember that Kenshiro is helping a Drug Lord rise to supreme power, beloved Peng-You or not. See Darker and Edgier, Easily Forgiven and Protagonist-Centered Morality for more details.
- Notably, Kenshiro does realize that Pan Guang-Lin and his underlings still are evil, albeit a lesser evil than their opponents, and this is one of the reasons he quits Shanghai before the start of the series.
- The founding master of Hokuto Shinken killed off the practitioners of Seito Gekken, many of whom would have been his future in-laws, after studying their martial art and blending their fighting techniques with his own simply out of the fear that Seito Gekken could potentially be abused by external interest groups in the future.
- Blood Brothers: The whole concept of the Peng-You relationship is very much akin to this.
- Blood Knight: Kenshiro in his youth, picking fights with other martial artists for no reason and nearly dying at least twice as a result. He becomes much more level-headed by the time the main story begins.
- Book Ends: The first and last fight scenes in the story involve Mooks trying to attack Kenshiro and his Peng-You in a restaurant/diner, and getting hit with Hokuto Shinken and thrown cutlery for their troubles.
- Casting Gag: It's not the first time Setsuji Sato (Yasaka) has voiced someone practicing Chinese martial arts, except the last time, he was a panda, and he was somewhat dumber.
- "If you've got a problem with [anything Kenshiro's involved in]... tell it to me!" *asskicking ensues*
- And much like his descendant, he is fond of telling his enemies that "You Are Already Dead" though as opposed to Ken's Japanese "Omae wa mou shindeiru", he speaks it in the Chinese language: "Nǐ yǐ jīng sǐ le"
- Clock Punk: The technology through which arrogant 1930's crime bosses can be given arms, legs, jaws, spines and hair blown off by Hokuto Shinken.
- Colonel Badass: Charles de Giese. To the point he's the only man in the series who's occupation is not primarily a martial artist, mercenary, criminal, or some other unorthodox (probably illegal) job and who isn't destined succeed a style but still capable of going toe-to-toe with Hokuto martial artists and hold on his own.
- Contrasting Sequel Main Character: Or prequel in this case. Kenshiro is a quiet, stoic man who is romantically completely dedicated to his Yuria. Kasumi on the other hand is a bit of a skirt-chaser, prone to trash-talking, cracking jokes and generally much more open to putting his emotions into words.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Good LORD, Zhang Tai-Yan.
- Cultured Badass: Professor Kasumi can speak and read half a dozen languages, play the piano, dance, cook, grade your university thesis AND pop you head open with Hokuto Shinken. Henry Jones Junior, eat your heart out.
- Cut Short: The manga went down with the sinking ship of Comic Bunch. And although it didn't exactly end on a cliffhanger, it didn't really dovetail nicely into Fist of the North Star either; lots of questions were left unanswered. In 2017 this has been mitigated with Re:Genesis, a sequel manga intending to follow the story.
- Darker and Edgier Since Souten no Ken was published in a Seinen (mature readers) anthology, it covers several adult subjects such as drugs, rape, prostitution, and misogynistic disfigurements, stuff that the comparatively campy Hokuto no Ken either glossed over or would not dare touch with a ten foot pole.
- Denser and Wackier: Downplayed. It has a lot more adult subjects than the original series, but Kenshiro Kasumi is a whole lot more snarky than Ken in Fist of the North Star, and the antagonists are way more comedic, such as Zhang Lie-Shan, who is practically a walking Self-Parody of the series tendency of inexplicably giant thugs by making it so that he actually has tons of issues with his own massive size to the point where he gets offended whenever anybody points it out, as he has to have things like cigars, glasses, and telephones all custom made at large enough sizes just so he can use them, men with horrifying faces joking about how Ken looks scary, and there's also the Hong Hua Hi leaders, who are all a bunch of overly hammy scumbags with many comedic traits.
- Dragons Up the Yin Yang: The Five-toed Imperial Dragon appears in the final battle between Kenshiro and Liu Zong-Wu.
- Easily Forgiven: If you thought Kenshiro, the 64th successor is bad with this trope, his uncle Yan Wang is arguably worse. For a last minute sob-story of a traumatic childhood, Professor Kasumi is willing to embrace drug dealers (Pan Guang-Lin) homicidal sociopaths (Liu Fei-Yan), serial rapists (Zhang Tai-Yan) and Nazi Captains (Liu Zong-Wu) as dear Peng-You and beloved Blood Brothers.
- In Zhang Tai-Yan's case, it is after he murdered the little sister of another one of Professor Kasumi's Peng-You. Granted, he ended up becoming remorseful about it, just not when he did it and he had a very traumatic childhood where he witness his mother's suicide and was raised by a stern seemingly cold father (who was responsible for his mother's suicide in the first place).
- It should also be noted that most of the villains he forgiven such as Zhang Tai-Yan and Liu Zong Wu are practitioners of Hokuto styles, with several destined to later impact the world and have a facedown with Hokuto Shinken. Some even became their own respective style's successors. So it's justified Kasumi forgive them and overlook their terrible crimes because of the destiny and burdens Hokuto Shinken puts on its successor and because the traditions of the Hokuto styles rules that eventually Hokuto Shinken would have to be tested every new generation against the other Hokuto offsprings. In fact Liu Zong Wu is the successor of what late becomes Hokuto Ryūken, the very style Hokuto Shinken was destined to clash with in Fist of the North Star's timeline.
- In addition to Zhang Tai-Yan, most of the villains he befriends (in particular Liu Zong Wu and Liu Fei-Yan) make a faceheelturn in the plot to the point some of them have prepared to completely die for Kasumi and are shown progressively fighting many evil people (including those they were formerly affiliated with such as the Nazis in Liu Zong Wu's case).
- Liu Fei-Yan is a dead-ringer for Rei from the original series, and the bandage-bound Ye is based on Darkman played by Liam Neeson.
- In the afterwords of the first volume, Tetsuo Hara describes Kasumi Kenshiro as a composite of three of his previous protagonists. He's essentially Hokuto no Ken's Kenshiro with Keiji Maeda's (of Hana no Keiji) sense of humor and Rintaro Nakabo's (from the detective manga of the same title) sense of irony.
- Foreshadowing: The invention of the atomic bomb by Erika's father and the flashback to its testing in the anime foreshadows the nuclear war that will one day destroy the world in the time of Hokuto no Ken.
- Fork Fencing: Kenshiro loves to use a variation of this trope wherein cutlery is rapidly launched like machine gun bullets, after being launched off the table with a hefty slap.
- Generic Cuteness: Tetsuo Hara here is essentially judging people's appearances by their characters: Kenshiro and his friends, ex-villains who renounced their evil ways, and even punch clock villains with reasonably honorable intentions are all portrayed as handsome or beautiful whereas fundamentally-dishonorable personalities are disturbingly intimidating at best and comically ugly at worst; Zhāng Tài-Yán is perhaps the best example. There is no mistaking Zhāng for anyone else at any point of the manga, but he still managed to look significantly different before and after he became Kenshiro's Peng-You.
- Gratuitous Foreign Language: As the manga is set in Imperial Japan-occupied Shanghai, Mandarin Chinese is prevalent. Even "You are already dead" is translated from Japanese as "Nǐ yǐ jīng sǐ le" (儞已經死了). note
- Guns Akimbo: Ye's primary fighting style.
- Holier Than Thou: The corrupt clergyman who takes confessions of criminals BEFORE they commit crimes and forgives them for exorbitant amounts of money so they can go rape, steal, and kill without guilt.
- Hollywood Cyborg: The grotesque, rusty and creaky Clock Punk Hong Hua Hi crime bosses, original disfigurements courtesy of Kenshiro.
- I Am Big Boned: Boss Zhang Lie-Shan of the Hong Hua-Hui Triads is a darkly funny version of this trope in action. He is a man gifted with "exceptional stature"... as in "literally the height of a three stories tall building exceptional stature. However, Lie-Shan is incredibly sensitive about being out of the ordinary, and gets very unhappy about being called "too big"... as in "smother his tree sized cigar into your face and drown you with his car-sized shot glass of whisky" unhappy.
- Identical Grandson:
- Or rather, Nephew. Kenshiro Kasumi is basically what happens if you give his nephew a chain smoking habit and a jolly sense of humor.
- Liu Zong-Wu, the Hokuto Liu Family Fist successor, is a dead-ringer to Raoh and his brother Kaioh. While its yet to be established whether his actually related to Raoh and his siblings, it should be noted that the Liu Family Fist later becomes Hokuto Ryuken, the same style practiced by Kaioh and Hyoh.
- Identity Amnesia: Pān Yù-Líng believes herself to be a Manchurian nomad named Lǐ Xiù-Bǎo.
- Invincible Hero: Kasumi Kenshiro actually is less suspectible to this trope than his nephew, as firearms make Mooks a more credible threat, and all serious opponents use versions of Hokuto Shinken as well.
- Large and in Charge: Zhang Lie-Shang, Boss of the Hong Hua Hui triads, literally the size of a building. Don't remind him about it though, just don't.
- Last of His Kind: Yasaka. His Yuezhi people were supposed to have died out after being double-crossed by the founding master of Hokuto Shinken in the 2nd century AD.
- Manly Tears: This is a prequel to Fist of the North Star after all.
- Meaningful Name (Qing Bang = blue; Hong Hua Hui = red)
- Mood Whiplash: The black humor involving the disfigurements of the bosses is quite jarring when placed next to the rather serious Martial-Arts combat and genuinely touching drama.
- My Country, Right or Wrong - Averted- Kenshiro enlisted the help of a small group of Japanese marines (and their tank) to overcome a Chinese sharpshooter position during the Battle of Shanghai not because he much cares for Japan's invasion of China but simply because that sharpshooter is an obstacle between him and his Peng-You. He left those Japanese soldiers to their fate as soon as he has no more use of them (right at the moment of a Chinese counterattack, spearheaded by a tank destroyer).
- Not Worth Killing: Liu Zong-Wu could have killed Adolf Hitler (the man for whom he betrayed the Chinese Warrior World to join the Nazis) himself if he wanted to, but spared him instead. Not that he did this out of any decency or compassion mind you; he held the tyrant in such unadulterated contempt that it would dirty his fists to stain it with his pathetic blood.
- One-Steve Limit: Averted. Liu Zong-Wu and Liu Fei-Yan are not related, despite their almost identical surnames (they're spelled with different Chinese characters).
- Only Known by Their Nickname : Luo Hu-Cheng's troops only know that he is Shogun Luo, but they dont even know his real name. This actualy become a rather... significant plot point
- Paper Cutting: Huang Xi-Fei manages to cut Kenshiro's cheek; Ling Wang cuts Kenshiro cheek and Kenshiro cuts Ling Wang's ear; Colonel Guise cuts Ling Wang's forehead with a bullet.
- Prequel: Set in 1930's Shanghai, around 60 years before the nuclear apocalypse.
- Protagonist-Centered Morality: Professor Kasumi is presented as a hero through and through. This is despite forgiving and befriending rapists and Nazis, not to mention helping to protect a massive shipment of opium that will poison Manchuria from being contaminated with Black-Death because it is his Peng You's base of financial power.
- Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs - A staple of all four Hokuto Schools of Martial Arts, it seems.
- Red Baron - Kenshiro has earned the notorious nickname of Yan-Wang ("Hell's King") a year prior by massacring a sizable portion of the Hong Hua Hui, while leaving its leaders disfigured cripples.
- Towards the end of the series, Kenshiro starts getting Visions of Another Self after encountering a mystical statue. In one past life he brought Hokuto Shinken to Japan with his two older brothers (a pair of Toki and Raoh lookalikes) and Kukai. In another he honorably executes Oda Nobunaga (who coincidentally got his own manga by Tetsuo Hara after the end of Blue Sky). This concept brings up the obvious question of whether Kasumi is the past-life incarnation of Hokuto no Ken's Kenshiro.
- Liu Zong-Wu, Yasaka and Liu Fei-Yan were all speculated to be past-life incarnations of Raoh, Toki and Rei respectively due to their resemblance to their counterparts.
- One of the series' attractions for old fans of Hokuto no Ken is its promise of how it will finally justify the continuity travesty that is "The Land of Shura." Yet in the first ten pages Hara has already dug himself a new hole to jump into by making the Kenshiro we have known to love be a baby born in Japan again. Which is he? Chinese or Japanese?
- The original Hokuto no Ken series had Kenshiro, the 64th Hokuto Shinken successor, be the very second Hokuto Shinken praticioner to perform the ultimate Musou Tensei art, the first was the Hokuto Shinken founder himself, and the third to use it was Raoh. Comes Souten no Ken and Kenshiro's uncle Kasumi, the 62nd Hokuto Shinken successor, performs the Musou Tensei against Liu Zong-Wu.
- Liu Zong-Wu performs Steve McQueen's famous motorcycle jump in The Great Escape onto the fleeing Bence Mercedes of his father's murderer. A nice ironic touch considering that whereas McQueen was fleeing from Nazis in his jump, Zong-Wu is a Nazi.
- Kenshiro's slapping the last emperor. Complete with the infamous line and a Took a Level in Badass. It isnt the same type as Bright Slapping though, since Kenshiro do it for sake of Revenge
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: More cynical compared to its predecessor, Fist of the North Star, despite being set in the shiny city of Shanghai. The Hero is helping his best friend - a drug lord, to take over the entire city by eliminating a gang that is even worse than theirs. There are also much fewer villains who receive redemption than in Fist of the North Star.
- Smoking Is Cool: And therefore so are all the men of Ching Bang, Kenshiro included.
- Tender Tears: Shed even moreso than in Hokuto by women and men.
- The Triads and the Tongs: The primary genre of this manga series, ties to Fist of the North Star notwithstanding.
- Those Wacky Nazis: If you thought a garden-variety Nazi is nasty enough, meet Liu Zong-Wu, the Nazi Hokuto Ryukaken Master.
- Wuxia: Stylistically closer to this genre than its post-apocalyptic predecessor; being set in Classical China in its twilight years helps.
- You Are Already Dead: Yup, just like the original.
- Zeerust Canon: The opening of the first chapter has the infant Kenshiro being delivered to Ryuken sometime in the 1970's, keeping in line with the 199X setting of Fist of the North Star.