Fist of the North Star books

Books on the series have come in waves as big-scale projects like pachinko games or movies arrived. Most of them are dedicated to the manga, acting as encyclopedias and guidebooks for those who are new to the story or don’t care to wade through hundreds of pages for information. Books that do the same for the anime are fewer, but can be found if you know what to look for. NOT included here are pachinko game strategy books, which are seemingly endless.

Japanese titles are provided for online search purposes.



Manga Coverage

Fist of the North Star Special,
All About the Man

北斗の拳 Special, All About the Man

Color and b&W, 140 pages
Shueisha, September 1986

The first book set the standards for all others to follow. It was HUGE – about 10″ x 14″ (tabloid size) and had a lot of full-page and double-page color art images. It arrived three years after the manga debuted in Shonen Jump, so the entire first story had played out and it was now in Series 2 territory. However, the content here stayed with Series 1 and set the agenda for future coverage: battle highlights, creator interviews, favorite scenes, characters, fighting techniques, and strangely-spelled English names (Laoh, Thouther, Shew, etc.). Almost half of the pages were devoted to a large-format reprint of the “prototype” manga story, but for some reason it was not included in its entirety.


Fist of the North Star Ultimate Manual

北斗の拳 究極解説書

Color and b&W, 192 pages
Shueisha, April 1999

There’s no ready explanation for why it took 13 years for the next manga-based book to appear, but it may have been a nod to the year 199X. This one was the first to take the entire sweep of the story into account, so though the presentation followed the topics set up in All About the Man, it went farther with a greater range of material.

Fist of the North Star 2000
Ultimate Manual, Part 2

北斗の拳2000 究極解説書 part 2

Color and b&W, 192 pages
Shueisha, December 1999

The second volume spent some time covering action figures, video games and a few other products, (not the anime, which seems like a huge oversight), but spent much of its time sorting out the the history and mysteries of Ken’s world. There was also a tabloid newspaper written by and for the villains, which is probably hilarious in Japanese.


Fist of the North Star Character file

北斗の拳 キャラクターFILE

Black & white, 192 pages
Futabasha, February 2006

As indicated by the title, this densely-packed volume focuses heavily on the characters from one end of the manga to the other, also breaking out some space to skim the story and overall history.

Fist of the North Star Data file

北斗の拳 データFILE

Black & white, 192 pages
Futabasha, April 2006

The second volume dove deep into cataloguing fight scenes, favorite lines, and more; creator interviews, a glossary, another “villain tabloid” section, and a large quiz to test your Ken IQ.





Fist of the North Star
Raoh Strongest Legend

北斗の拳 ラオウ最強伝説

Color, 144 pages
Takarajima Separate Volume 1558, September 2008

With Raoh as the title character in two of the revival films, it was natural for him to get a whole book to himself. It traces his entire convoluted history through the manga and crosses over into the films to paint the complete picture of this classic character in both body and mind.


Fist of North Star Illustration Collection – ULTIMATE

北斗の拳 イラスト集 究極

Color, box set
Shogakukan, December 2008

If you’re looking for a straight-up art book, this one stands head and shoulders above all others. Published for the 25th anniversary, it is a box of dreams. Shown above is the cardboard packaging. Open that up and the first thing you see is a large, gold-tinted box that measures out to a giant-size 11″x15″. Inside is the following…

The “Certification Examination” book is like a hokuto shinken instruction manual, a 32-page review of the manga showing (probably) every instance of how it is used. Also includes dictionaries, a quiz, and a full-page “ad” for fashion items to outfit your goon squad (see it here. Go ahead. You know you want to).

At right is the first of four art images…

…one dedicated to each of the “hokuto brothers.” These are photographed from manga pages, so they include all the interesting production artifacts you don’t see in the published version.

The centerpiece of all this is a full-color, 128-page hardcover with what looks like every single piece of color art done by Tetsuo Hara for the series from 1983 all the way to the 2008 “Ultimate edition” of the manga. Includes several of the watercolor pages from Shonen Jump that were usually reprinted in greyscale.


Fist of the North Star
Who’s the Strongest?

北斗の拳 最強は誰だ?

B&W, 198 pages
Futabasha, December 2011

Your favorite FotNS characters: RANKED! That’s the purpose of this book, which is a collection of character profiles from across the entire manga and a score card to see where they land in various categories. Between this and various columns, it amounts to a Who’s Who in FotNS.

Fist of the North Star, Raoh Legend

北斗の拳 ラオウ伝説

B&W, 198 pages
Futabasha, February 2013

This was the second book to focus entirely on Raoh from every possible angle from history to abilities to psychology and more. It was published after the Conqueror of Heaven manga expanded his backstory, but it receives no attention in these pages.


Fist of the North Star Great Dissection

北斗の拳 大解剖

First edition (at left)
Sanei Shobo, September 2014

Revised edition (at right)
Color, 128 pages
Sanei Shobo, December 2017

As manga overviews go, this is probably the best-looking one you can get. It covers the same topics as all the others, but in general the art is larger and easier to enjoy. Whereas most other books cram as many pictures as possible on a page, this one really celebrates the art. The centerpiece is a section of 19 manga pages from the final Ken/Raoh battle presented at full-page size, photographed from the originals as in the Ultimate book.


Fist of the North Star, Raoh Pia

北斗の拳 ラオウ×ぴあ

Color, 98 pages
Pia, November 2017

This Raoh-centric guidebook did a good job of lining up all the disparate chapters of his history into a single continuity and investigating many, many other topics with the original manga as its source. There was cursory coverage of the many side-story manga and parody projects, but the opportunity to fold them into a single, cohesive picture was not taken.

Fist of the North Star, Kenshiro Pia

北斗の拳 ケンシロウぴあ

Color, 98 pages
Pia, October 2018

Published for the 35th anniversay, this was another heavy-duty examination of the manga with all the usual topics: characters, battles, relationships, art gallery, favorite quotes, fighting techniques, etc. The advantage it has over previous books is that it’s still available here.



Anime Coverage

Fist of the North Star
The Man with the Seven Scars

Color, 160 pages
Shueisha, February 1985

Published four months after the TV series began, this paperback offered literal anime coverage, film comics based on the first seven episodes with extensive stills. Followed up by character model sheets in the back, it stood alone for an oddly long time.

Fist of the North Star movie program

Color, 28 pages
Toho, March 1986

Movie programs accompany every single film that gets released in Japanese cinema, and they are sometimes the only print media that ever gets made for most. Such was the case with the 1986 FotNS movie, which was popular enough to support other products, but a book was not among them. So this is pretty much it for collectors, except for…


Fist of the North Star movie Jump Anime Comics

Color, 152 pages each
Shueisha, March & April 1995

A complete retelling of the movie in film comic format. Both volumes contain original foldout art, introductory pages, and short overviews of the TV series. Volume 1 ends with the Ken vs. Jagi battle. Volume 2 picks up from there, preserving the theatrical ending rather than the altered-for-home-video ending.


Our Favorite Fist of the North Star

僕たちの好きな北斗の拳

Color, 144 pages
Takarajima Separate Volume 717, January 2003

Right on time for the 20th anniversary, this was the first book to seriously dig into the anime series with character guides, world guides, special columns, and episode-by-episode coverage from 1 to 109. Since there’s so much material to cover, it’s not as art heavy as we might like, but we can’t be choosers in this case.

Fist of the North Star
Complete Reading Book

北斗の拳 完全読本

Color, 160 pages
Takarajima Separate Volume 1002, April 2004

This followup volume continues the party, filling out the data trove on the first series, then leaning heavily into FotNS 2 with more episode coverage, stills, and art. Between these two books, the entire TV series finally gets its due. Nothing on the 1986 feature film, however.


Our Favorite Fist of the North Star
new edition

僕たちの好きな北斗の拳

Takarajima, May 2007

Reprint of the 2003 edition with a new cover

Fist of the North Star
Complete Reading Book, new edition

北斗の拳 完全読本

Takarajima, May 2007

Reprint of the 2004 edition with a new cover


Our Favorite Fist of the North Star
revised edition

僕たちの好きな北斗の拳

B&W with some color, 256 pages
Takarajima, July 2008

This paperback is a significantly-reformatted reissue of the 2003 book of the same name. The result is a digest-sized index of the first TV series, averaging one episode per page with synopsis and notes. Images are small with several pages given to articles and interviews.

Fist of the North Star Chronicle

北斗の拳クロニクル

B&W with some color, 208 pages
Takarajima, April 2012

This is a reformatted version of the same text again (credited to the same author), but the slightly larger page size allows for more stills and art. So although it’s another index for the same material, it’s less cramped and more satisfying. An expanded color section at the front of the book includes a complete franchise timeline up to 2012 and some rare product photos.


Fist of the North Star, Raoh Legend Martyrdom Chapter (movie program)

Color, 24 pages
Toho, March 2006

Sold only in theaters, a lavish overview of the movie with art, interviews, story and character guides, and a big foldout attempting to put everything into a single timeline. (Tough to do in one image, but nice try.)

Fist of the North Star, Raoh Legend Martyrdom Chapter (Roman Album)

Color and B&W, 104 pages
Tokuma Shoten, April 2006

Roman Albums were legendary back in the 70s and 80s, an encyclopedic series that packed all the coverage of your favorite anime in a single volume. There was never such a book for the TV anime (still a massive, gaping hole in history), but this one covered the first of the revival movies in classic fashion: stills, design works, production art, interviews, storyboards, and more. Regrettably, there were no followups for later films.


Fist of the North Star, Raoh Legend
Fierce Fighting Chapter movie program

Color, 36 pages
Toho, April 2007

This one goes heavier on the interviews and articles than the first film, but it still looks great from front to back. It seems dull in the photo due to a very classy reflective silver finish. The foldout this time was a big character alignment chart.

Fist of the North Star, Kenshiro Legend movie program

Color, 24 pages
Toho, October 2008

Similar approach to the previous programs, but since this was the last project in the revival anime series, it was able to look back at all the previous movies and OAVs to put them in perspective. Always welcome in a world that keeps getting new layers with every retelling.



Others

Figure King No. 34

フィギュア王 no.34

World Photo Press, July 2000

Figure King was a world-class magazine for fans of Japanese toys and figures. This issue’s cover story was an extensive 15-page article that examined the history of FotNS products up to the publishing date. (Of course, many more would follow.) The occasion for the coverage was the release of Kaiyodo’s insanely-articulate FotNS 200X action figure line.

Junichi Hayama, Brush Work

羽山淳一 ブラッシュワーク

Color, 125 pages
Genkosha, 2015

Animator/character designer Junichi Hayama is known for his expressive, dynamic brush illustrations. His extensive credits include both the FotNS movie and TV series. This book is a gallery of illustrations with several pages devoted to FotNS. He covers many, many other subjects as well. If you’re a fan of 70s and 80s anime, this is solid gold.

Still in print! Order it here

Fist of the North Star, V Jump Books Game Series

北斗の拳 世紀末救世主伝説

Color, 120 pages
Shueisha, October 2000

This guidebook covers the FotNS Japanese Playstation game, which I DEVOURED. It followed the entire first TV series with all the major battles (and some minor ones). Arena modes also allowed for one-on-one fights and some goofy variations, like how many low-end goons can you obliterate in a minute? The book is dense and splashy with tons of 32-bit images that look like marionettes now. But boy did I love them back then.

Watch a whole hour of playthrough here.

Fist of the North Star PS2 Complete Guide

Color, 128 pages
SoftBank Creative, April 2007

I bought this book because I also bought the PS2 game, but this was around the time I no longer had time for games so I didn’t get around to cracking it. Nevertheless, books like these are visual in nature and always interesting to examine in lieu of hours at the TV screen. Of course, the game graphics were way better than the PS1, but this book wasn’t as colorfully designed, so it didn’t have as much to offer.



Fist of the North Star, 100 Mysteries

Takarajima, 224 pages, 2007

I don’t have this one, so I’ll rely on the official description:

Fist of the North Star still has a lot of fans. This book was written to make FotNS more interesting and enjoyable. The author, Yoshiyuki Endo, pursues the mysteries of Kenshiro, his best friends, Raoh and Yuria, Hokuto Shinken and Nanto Seiken, and even Shura, with questions that sometimes seem like accusations. The answers to these questions come from the author’s own stories, so this is no ordinary reading. The reader will realize that they have only seen part of the story.


A book to learn English with
Fist of the North Star

北斗の拳で英語を身につける本

Color, 128 pages
Takarajima, April 2009

Uses translated scenes to teach English conversation, including phrases for each character, famous lines, and a collection of everyday conversations as a learning tool.

RIZAP x Fist of the North Star: The Strongest Fitness Technique in History

RIZAP×北斗の拳 史上最強の肉体改造術

Color, 96 pages
Nippon Bungeisha, October 2018

What could be more natural than a tie in between FotNS and physical fitness? This book is just that, with tips on training and nutrition (using the RIZAP method) to get yourself either a Kenshiro body or a Raoh body. Ken and Raoh themselves offer tips (in text, of course). The framing device uses manga panels; we learn that Heart is sad because he’s got a big, flabby body. After using the techniques in the book, we meet a fit, buff, muscular Heart at the end, and he’s much happier.

This is still in print and can be ordered here.


Finally, some oddballs I discovered while researching all of this…

Left and center: early strategy guides for the 1986/1987 Family Computer video games. (The precursor to Nintendo.)

Right: a textbook titled The Way of Life of the Lower Class, a sort of self-help book by Buronson. The promo goes, “No one can become Kenshiro. It’s okay to be uncool. Live like Jagi!” See a Youtube promo here.

A sampling of the many and varied pachinko/pachislot strategy books out there. I opted out of this rabbit hole.


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