Fist of the North Star gaiden manga

First words first: “gaiden” means “side story.” It’s applied to spinoffs for popular anime and manga when they reach a point where supporting characters earn their own stories. FotNS is loaded with them.

This ambitious project began in lockstep with the anime revival in 2006, mainly in the pages of Weekly Comic Bunch, and turned the spotlight on the best-loved characters at various points in the timeline. Kenshiro himself was barely involved, but many of the personalities crossed over into each other’s stories in ways that enriched the entire saga without overtly violating continuity.

This was pretty miraculous, given that each title was created by a different author and were drawn in very different styles. It was probably due to equal parts respect for the original and close supervision by Horie, Buronson, and Hara. They also outlasted the anime component of the revival, ending in 2013 and giving way to the “parody era.”

Raoh gaiden: Conqueror of the Heavens

北斗の拳 ラオウ外伝 天の覇王

Story and art: Youkow Osada. 5 Volumes, Coamix/Shinchosa

Originally serialized in Comic Bunch, March 2006 to August 2007.
Find more info at Anime News Network and Hokuto Fandom.

This is the story of Raoh’s rise to power, starting some time before the original manga and ending shortly before he enters the mainstream of the story. It was adapted into both a 13-episode anime series in 2008 and a PSP game in 2009. Read more about the anime on the video page.

Volume 1

July 2006

The end of the century. Nuclear flames have burned the world to the ground, transforming it into a cauldron of the weak and the strong. In order to save the world, Roah, the eldest of the three Hokuto brothers, takes on the challenge of ruling the world through fear. He is assisted by his childhood friends Souga and Reina, who were born in his homeland. Together, they depose a tyrant king, seizing both his castle and his army. Their next target is the city of Cassandra, but their advance is blocked by a herd of wild horses led by the fearsome Black King. Raoh makes peace with this mighty steed, who becomes his mount and ally for the battles to come.

Volume 2

October 2006

Sauzer and Yuda watch Raoh’s rise and come up with a counter-strategy: as Sauzer distracts Raoh with talk of an alliance, Yuda leads an attack on Raoh’s fortress. Raoh stops him, then faces off against Sauzer. Realizing they are evenly matched (for now), the two agree to a cease fire and go their separate ways. (This part of the story was wisely repositioned as the climax of the anime series.) Meanwhile, two other significant players lie in wait: Amiba and Toki.

Volume 3

December 2006

Toki and Amiba square off but are interrupted by Raoh, who has decided Toki is too dangerous to be allowed his freedom. Needing a prison to hold him, Raoh takes the city of Cassandra. He frees its most dangerous prisoner, Wigul, and declares him the warden. The next target is the mysterious Nanto Master Ryuro, who despite becoming a hermit, harvests food and brings hope to local villagers. Of course, all hope must be crushed for Raoh to ascend. Nanto master Ryuga watches their duel and pledges his loyalty to Raoh as the victor.

Volume 4

March 2007

Ryuga works through rivalries with Souga and Reina to become Raoh’s right-hand man, expanding Raoh’s bloody swath of tyranny across the wasteland, at one point leading to a confrontation with his own brother Juuza. Reina is temporarily captured by Yuda but freed by Mamiya. As news of Kenshiro’s rise begins to filter in, Raoh consults with Toki, but gets no further information. The next major character steps in: Jagi.

Volume 5

September 2007

Jagi encounters Souga and Reina, then goes on to his confrontation with Kenshiro. Ryuga has been having trouble taking a village, mysteriously attacked by his own men in Ken-oh’s army. Raoh finds and eliminates a Nanto mind-master behind it named Gaiya. The story ends as Raoh learns that Kenshiro has broken his grip on Cassandra, propelling the two toward their first battle.

The last volume ends with a bonus story centering on Raoh’s son Ryu, who originally appeared in later chapters of the original manga (which were not adapted for anime). Ryu’s mother is never revealed, but the most likely candidate is Reina, who simultaneously appeared in Conqueror of the Heavens and the first revival film.

Rei gaiden: Bloody Wolf’s Darkness Blue

北斗の拳 レイ外伝 蒼黒の餓狼

Story and art: Yasuyuki Nekoi. 5 volumes, Coamix/Shinchosa.

Originally serialized in Comic Bunch, May 2007 to July 2009.
Find more info at Anime News Network and Hokuto Fandom.

The time frame for this one is set prior to Rei’s entry into the main story, when he is wandering alone in defiance of his own destiny. The art style is lurid and sensual, suitable to the canonically “most beautiful form“ of Nanto Sei Ken.

Volume 1

October 2007

In pursuit of the man with seven scars on his chest who kidnapped his sister Airi, Rei encounters a boy in the wilderness who calls himself Yu. Yu guides Rei to Asgarzul, a village for women that kills all invading men. There, Rei meets Eva, the Queen of Asgarzul, and finds true peace in her arms. However, as they sleep Eva is murdered by someone using Nanto Sei Ken, and Rei is blamed for the crime. He is attacked by Eva’s Valkyries led by a woman named Freeda, but is determined to search for the real culprit.

Volume 2

February 2008

We flash back to Rei’s days in training, jealously watched by Juda and Amiba – and supported by Shu – as he hones his skills to be named the successor of Nanto Suicho ken. He succeeds and is promoted by his master Rofu just days before the apocalypse. Still suspected of murdering Eva, Rei meets a fellow Nanto master named Zan, who plots to take over Asgarzul before Ken-oh can do it. The two work together for a while, but when the Valkyries are imprisoned Rei takes their side and frees them. Meanwhile, Shin is watching…

Volume 3

August 2008

Shin plots to take Asgarzul but Amiba advises him that a formidable obstacle has just entered the picture: Rofu, Rei’s former master. Yu is revealed to be a girl, and the adopted sister of Eva, which means she is next in line to lead Asgarzul. Rei openly defies Zan and the two battle, to be interrupted by a drifter named Rema. He is the most ferocious fighter Rei has encountered so far, and now that he is in place Rofu enters the fray.

Volume 4

February 2009

Rei and Rema have a vicous fight, in which it is revealed that Rema is a super soldier with a self-healing ability. Rei is saved by Yu’s intervention, and Rofu arrives to berate his former student for his weakness. Rofu is essentially the Raoh of the Nanto Sei Ken, admitting to killing Eva because she would not allow him to take over the village. Rei vows to avenge her, but the arrival of Yuda’s army stops them from fighting. This turns everyone into uneasy allies, but all they can do is watch as Rofu slaughters Yuda’s entire army single-handed. With the invaders gone, Rei departs to resume his search for Airi. But the Nanto masters are not willing to turn a blind eye to Rofu’s return to power.

Volume 5

May 2009

The women of Asgarzul retake the city and declare Yu their new queen-in-waiting, and Rofu makes his move to take the village from them. Meanwhile, Rei runs into Zan, who has taken Airi hostage. Shu intervenes, revealing that “Airi” is an imposter, and Rei slaughters Zan. Rema returns to battle Rofu, and we learn that Freeda is his sister – both were genetically modified to become human weapons. But they are still no match for Rofu. Rei races back to Asgarzul, arriving too late to intervene. Rofu has left with Yu as his hostage.

Volume 6

August 2009

As Rema and Freeda recover, Rei goes to face Rofu for the last time in a momentous showdown that draws all the Nanto masters (including the mysterious “last general”) and Ken-oh himself to witness the battle. Rofu reveals that he was the one who manipulated the “man with seven scars” to kill Rei’s parents and abduct Airi, and Rei makes the dramatic turn we’ve all been waiting for. The fight is long and brutal, rivaling that of Ken and Raoh. In the end, it is revealed that Eva demanded that Rofu kill her to set all these events in motion so that Rei would find his destiny as a fighter for justice and sacrifice.

Yuria gaiden: The Affectionate Mother Star

北斗の拳 ユリア外伝 慈母の星

Story and art: Akimi Kasai. 1 volume, Shogakukan, September 2007.

Originally serialized in Big Comics Superior, March 2006 to June 2007 (6 chapters). Find more info at Anime News Network and Hokuto Fandom.

Before the apocalypse, Yuria suffers from the burden of precognition, able to see the fate of others, but not of herself. Caught between the worlds of Hokuto and Nanto, she is betrothed to Kenshiro but coveted by Shin, who makes extravagent advances. Kenshiro is absent for most of the story, but Yuria’s half-brother Juuza steps up to foil Shin, setting the two up as bitter rivals.

This was the only gaiden by a female creator. The art is elegant and refined, occupying an interesting middle ground between FotNS and women’s manga.

Toki gaiden: Silvery Savior

北斗の拳 トキ外伝 銀の聖者

Story and art: Yuka Nagate. 6 volumes, Shinchosa

Originally serialized in Comic Bunch, September 2007 to December 2008.
Find more info at Anime News Network and Hokuto Fandom.

This is far and away my favorite of the bunch, a beautifully-drawn, sensitively-written portrait of Toki that follows him up to his first appearance in the original story and stays with it through his dramatic battle with Raoh. Continuity is very closely followed, and extended sequences are adapted with respect and dedication.

The same can be written about the Toki film that came out during the run of this manga, but the two are rendered incompatible by the presence of different supporting characters. Both are worth your time.

Volume 1

December 2007

Toki, who has only a short time to live due to illness, travels the wasteland with his companion Ramo using Hokuto Shinken as a medical technique. At one of the villages, Toki saves a tribe on the verge of death, including a little boy named Luka, and decides to build a clinic. He becomes both healer and guardian, and the place becomes known as the village of miracles. Hearing the rumors, people come to seek medical help. The arrogant Amiba tries to upstage Toki, but is humiliated forms a personal grudge. Meanwhile, the deadly Zeed gang roams the wasteland.

Volume 2

March 2008

Juuza drifts into the village as Amiba finds the Zeed gang and lures them closer. Thanks to their improved health, the villagers construct a tower of windmills that generates electric power and makes the village an even greater prize. The Zeed gang attacks en masse, but thanks to electrical gimmicks and the fighting powers of both Toki and Juuza, they are repelled. Furious at this failure, Amiba looks for another means for revenge and Jagi turns up to assist. Juuza leaves, but not before telling Toki that Yuria has died. Toki is shocked, and we learned that he loved her as much as Kenshiro.

Volume 3

June 2008

With Miracle village at peace, Toki and Ramo go off to another village to heal their sick. With him gone, another gang makes its move, invading and slaughtering many villagers. Toki comes back to save them in the nick of time, but he behaves differently, arrogant and callous. It is Amiba in disguise, coached by Jagi. Realizing something is wrong, Toki races back but is intercepted by Ryuga – and Raoh. Ryuga is beaten, but before Raoh, Toki is outmatched.

Volume 4

August 2008

Toki is locked up in Cassandra prison while Amiba torments the people of Miracle Village. Luka escapes with a mission to find Kenshiro. Ryuga informs Toki that both Kenshiro and Yuria are still alive, and if Ken is destined to save the world he will surely come to save Toki. Hearing this, Toki goes into an extended meditation and we get a long flashback to the days of the Hokuto brothers before the apocalypse. We learn why and how Toki fell in love with Yuria, and the bombs begin to fall.

Volume 5

November 2008

This volume begins with the apocalypse and the dramatic moment when Toki contracted his fatal illness. He still occupies his cell in Cassandra, intent on keeping his promise to stop Raoh’s world conquest. Luka is saved by Rei and Mamiya in the wilderness as he searches for Kenshiro. They learn that Kenshiro is heading toward Miracle Village to find “Toki” and instead he finds Amiba. Rei turns up to reveal Amiba’s true identity and Ken destroys him. Raoh becomes aware of this, and is determined that Ken must not find Toki. But he’s too late; Ken rescues Toki from Cassandra and the story accelerates forward.

Volume 6

January 2009

The story jumps ahead to Toki’s preparation to face Raoh. He tests himself against Kenshiro and is convinced that the world will be in good hands if he loses the fight. The rest of this volume recounts and expands that massively important segment of the original story, ending with Toki’s triumphant return to Miracle Village where he will live out the rest of his remaining days.

Jagi gaiden: Flower of Carnage

北斗の拳 ジャギ外伝 極悪ノ華

Story and art: Sin-Ichi Hiromoto. 2 volumes, Shinchosa.

Originally serialized in Comic Bunch, January 2009 to August 2009.
Find more info at Anime News Network and Hokuto Fandom.

The visual style for this one is as raw and tortured as Jagi himself, at times resembling urban underground art. It bounces back and forth between Jagi’s childhood, teen years, and apocalyptic mob rule.

Volume 1

May 2009

Jagi starts out as a “bad seed” orphan taken in by Ryuuken to help tend his school. Jagi is tormented by local gang members, and fights as best he can. Raoh, Toki, and Kenshiro are brought in later, and Ryuuken reveals that they will be trained in Hokuto Shinken, the ultimate art of assassination. Jagi works hard to qualify for training, but watches with increased resentment as they surpass him. He lurches back and forth between the discipline of training and gang life, not fitting into either and only becoming more violent. Along the way, he bears witness to several key moments depicted in the original manga as the apocalypse approaches.

Volume 2

September 2009

As Jagi gets older, he loses focus and increasingly relies upon dirty tricks and weapons to torment Kenshiro during their training. The year 199X arrives, overturning the world. The death of Jagi’s only friend Anna sends him over the edge, turning him into a demon of revenge. He knows enough Hokuto Shinken to overpower and take command of a gang. When he learns that Kenshiro has been named the successor, he firebombs Ryuuken’s temple and takes the fatal blow from Kenshiro to turn him into the Jagi we know. The story jumps to their final confrontation and plays out with greater resonance thanks to what we’ve learned.

Volume 2 includes a 2007 manga by the same author: Ryuuken gaiden, Judgement Day. Ryuuken witnesses the splintering paths of his four sons leading up to the day of apocalypse.

Juuza gaiden: The Wandering Cloud

北斗の拳 ジュウザ外伝 彷徨の雲

Story and art: Missile Kakurai. 2 volumes, Shinchosa

Originally serialized in Comic Bunch, February 2010 to September 2010. Find more info at Hokuto Fandom.

In keeping with Juuza’s freewheeling personality, this manga defies convention at every turn with loosely-constructed art that alternately defies and challenges expectations.

Volume 1

October 2010

As the story begins, Ken-oh’s army is on the rise and Kenshiro has just toppled Casandra. Juuza floats from one village to another, content with women and booze until he can no longer avoid a fight – and uses his Nanto skills to effortlessly shred his opponents. His only mission is to take vengeance upon Kenshiro for allowing his half-sister Yuria to die. He finds his way to an oasis of a village under Ken-oh’s control named Basta. Yona, a young man who leads the local forces, presides over the regular sacrifice of children to keep the locals in a state of despair.

Volume 2

October 2010

A series of confrontations (some bloody) between Yona and Juuza reveals great contrast between the two; a man of strict control vs. a man who prizes freedom above all things, including the freedom of others. When things finally resolve, Juuza returns to aimless wandering, periodically interrupted by his fellow Nanto Go Sha Sei who keep insisting that he return to serve the last general. After a brutal confrontation with his brother Ryuga (now supporting Ken-oh), and an encounter with Mamiya (incorporating a flashback with Rei), he is finally captured and meets the general: Yuria. This propels him to his showdown with Raoh, straight from the original with some new dimensions.

The Prehistory of the Nanto Go Sha Sei: Garuda of the Golden Wings


Story and art: Yoshiji Yamaguchi
1 volume, Tokuma Shoten.
Originally serialized in Comic Zenon,
April 2013 to September 2013.

Garuda is a new character, a Nanto Seiken fighter modeled after the golden-winged bird from Hindu mythology. After losing his village in the apocalypse, he renounced the Nanto leadership for being ineffective, and is determined to supplant the Last Nanto General. He has joined Kenoh’s army and received intelligence on the location of the Nanto stronghold (protected by the Nanto Go Sha Sei). As this story begins (set during the second arc of the original) Garuda is on his way there.

The members of the Go Sha Sei are sent to stop him, but Garuda battles his way through. Ryuga advises Raoh/Kenoh that Garuda is not to be trusted, but Raoh is content to see what happens. If Garuda rises to power and betrays him, Garuda will be destroyed.

Garuda gets all the way to the Nanto stronghold where he fights the Go Sha Sei to a standstill, relenting only when the General reveals her true identity. Understanding the weight of her destiny, Garuda walks away and disappears into the wasteland. This was not his final appearance, however, since he also shows up in two subsequent pachinko games.

Find more info at Hokuto Fandom.

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