Fist of the North Star (北斗の拳; Hokuto no Ken, literally the "Fist of the Big Dipper") is the quintessential "man who looks and sounds like Bruce Lee, wandering the post-apocalyptic wasteland, making people explode with his fists and shedding loads of Manly Tears" manga. Essentially Mad Max and Violence Jack meets a Bruce Lee film, Fist of the North Star became a classic of the 1980s Shonen genre for Japanese manga, written by Buronson and illustrated by Tetsuo Hara. It lasted nearly six years in Weekly Shonen Jump with 27 collected volumes, is unquestionably one of the most influential manga ever penned, and to this day, has been subjected to many parodies, seen in sources such as My Bride is a Mermaid, Excel♡Saga, and School Rumble (but none as much as Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo).
The story is set in a post-apocalyptic future after a nuclear war sometime during the 1990s, leveling human civilization. The world is now covered with bands of lawless thieves and mohawked ruffians who prey on the weak and innocent For the Evulz. Enter the muscular hero Kenshiro, who wanders from town to town searching for his fiancee Yuria (who has been kidnapped by his rival Shin) and helping those who cannot help themselves as he drifts. Fortunately for Kenshiro, he is the successor to the Hokuto Shinken ("Big Dipper Divine Fist") school of martial arts, a legendary assassination art which utilizes the keiraku hiko pressure points of the human body to literally make them explode from within. Following his bout and conclusion with Shin, Fist of the North Star gradually shifts its focus to Kenshiro's battle against Raoh, the eldest of his adoptive brothers, and a would-be world conqueror who was also trained in the ways of Hokuto Shinken by their mutual master. Since the law of Hokuto Shinken only allows the style to be passed on from one master to a single pupil, it becomes Kenshiro's duty to stop Raoh from using the style to fulfill his own ambitions.
The latter half of the manga, set several years after Raoh's defeat, has Kenshiro rejoining his former sidekicks Bat and Lin, now grown up and leader of the "Hokuto Army", as they fight off the corrupt Army of the Celestial Emperor (Tentei). While Kenshiro and his friends are successful in defeating their foes, Lin is kidnapped not long afterwards and taken to the Land of Shura, catapulting the successor of Hokuto Shinken into another war with the three warlords of Shura, all masters of Hokuto Ryuken ("Big Dipper Gemstone Fist"), a martial art which branched off from the same clan that developed Hokuto Shinken. While the Animated Adaptation ends with Kenshiro's final fight against Kaioh, the manga continues with a few additional story arcs involving Kenshiro's adventures into new frontiers with a young boy named Ryu.
Body counts are often in the dozens per chapter and any major fight is usually followed immediately by Kenshiro shedding Manly Tears and/or Tender Tears for the fallen, having discovered his opponent was noble all along or just misguided, even if he had been, for example, kidnapping children and laboring them to death in order to build a giant pyramid. Even in the rare event tears aren't shed, Death Equals Redemption abounds, and there's often plenty of exposition and lore revealed that revolves around the many nobler opponents Kenshiro happens to encounter or best in battle.
Despite the manga's popularity in Japan, it was only partially translated in English twice before both attempts were canceled: first by Viz Media during the 1980s and 1990s in a series of monthly comics, and later by Coamix's short-lived American subsidiary of Gutsoon Entertainment in the early 2000s as a series of colorized graphic novels. Viz was able to reacquire the license as of October 2020, and started publishing the series again as of summer 2021.
On September 13th, 2023 it was announced that a new anime project is in production, as a way to celebrate the manga's 40th anniversary.