The main protagonist of this story is Kasumi Kenshiro, better known as "Yan Wang" or "The King of Hell" (derived from the myth Yan Luo Wang). Kasumi is a laid back and chain-smoking Tokyo professor who is secretly the successor of the deadly Chinese assassin martial artHokuto Shinken who travels to Shanghai, China after hearing the news of his Triad friend Pan Guang-Lin and his sister Yu-Ling (Kasumi's love interest) are in trouble.
In Shanghai, Kasumi has to fight the three Hokuto families, the Hokuto Sankaken (based on the royal families of Romance of the Three Kingdoms). At the same time Kasumi has to help Pan's "Qing Bang" Triad gang against the immoral "Hong-Hua" Triads in gaining territory and influence in Shanghai.
The main character and 62nd successor to Hokuto Shinken. Known in Shanghai as "Yán Wáng" (閻王,En'ō?). An avid smoker, reader, and endowed with an uncanny sense of smell, he places friends above almost everything else (for example, he is not shy about threatening Japanese soldiers into helping him to find Liú Fēi-Yàn during the Battle of Shanghai, telling them that he cares nothing for their war). His fighting technique is similar to that of Toki in Fist of the North Star, in which he fights in a fluid and smooth fighting style. In Japan, he is a lecturer at the Tōwa Women's University. Despite being depicted as somewhat easy going, as well as comical, he uses the same chilling catch-phrase as his nephew, "You are already dead,"(お前はもう死んでいる,Omae wa mō shindeiru?), but says it in Chinese, "Nǐ yǐ jīng sǐ le" (traditional Chinese: 儞已經死了; simplified Chinese: 你已经死了).
Kenshiro's younger half-brother, the future 63rd successor of Hokuto Shinken Ryūken(リュウケン,lit. "Dragon fist"?), the adoptive father of Raoh, Toki, Jagi and Kenshiro. He named the infant Kenshiro (from Fist of the North Star) in honor of his brother Kenshiro Kasumi, who were both born with a birthmark shaped as the Big Dipper on their head. He refers to his older brother, Kenshiro, as the "Strongest Hokuto Shinken warrior" who was "mighty as the blue sky above." The young Ramon appears thorough the series, first protecting Aya Kitaoji from hired thugs, later serving as a bodyguard to Pān Yù-Líng against the Tài Hú Bāng during her stay in Japan.
Father of Kenshirō and Ramon; he was the 61st successor of Hokuto Shinken. As a young man he sought to fight Liú Xuán-Xìn in the "Tenju no Gi" challenge, but Liú had become too old to fight. Tesshin fell in love with his daughter and they conceived a son, Kenshiro. Tesshin once fought Wèi Ruì-Yīng, founder of Kyokujūji Seiken, to a draw. Tesshin remarked that Ruì-Yīng may have been able to defeat him had he not lost a leg.
The founder of Hokuto Shinken, first mentioned in Fist of the North Star. 2,000 years ago, he became an apprentice of Seito Gekken, learning its secrets of the Keiraku Hikō pressure points and blending it with the original Hokuto style. In order to fulfill his destiny as foreordained by the Hokuto Sōke priests, he killed the other disciples of Seito Gekken, including his lover Yahma, and established the one successor rule for Hokuto Shinken so that its dangerous secrets would not fall into the wrong hands.
"North Dipper Sūn Family Fist" (北斗孫家拳, Pinyin: Běidǒu Sūnjiāquán), which specializes in Ki manipulation. The school also has a forbidden technique that displaces ones pressure points by altering ones own Ki and blood flow, but also shortens the user's lifespan.
Also known as Líng-Wáng(靈王,Reiō?). Mastered the forbidden art of "Pressure Point Displacement" (秘孔変位,Hikō Hen'i?). He was the one that took Pan Yu-Ling's memory because he fell in love with her, but also because he thinks this is a fitting punishment to Kenshiro. He got his wish to "fight someone worthy of taking my life" granted by the Old Taoist Fortune Teller. He was already dying from a slow decaying death from his self-inflicted pressure points by then. In contrast to Yan Wang's smelling instinct, he possesses great hearing instinct which allows him to hear conversations miles away.
A French Jew and colonel in the French army that works with the Qing-Bang. Although he knows Sonkaken, he prefers using conventional fighting methods like guns and swords; however, if necessary, he uses Sonkaken combined with either his saber or pistol and only truly uses it when he fights seriously, otherwise, he'd usually surrender, summons his soldiers, or fight regularly using firearms or fencing. He has a sister, Sophie, who suffered trauma resulting in memory suppression due to her experiences in escaping from Nazi Germany as her husband (a non-Jewish German who was prohibited from marrying her by Nazi law) got sent to a concentration camp. When she regained her memory by Kenshiro's acupressure, she was assassinated by Zhang Tai Yan. De Guise was eventually wounded fatally by Liú Fēi-Yàn when the latter deemed him unfit to take care of Erika and challenged him to a duel. Kenshiro used acupressure techniques on him to prolong his life just long enough to watch his friends staging a glimpse of his vision- a Shanghai in prosperity (where Jews can take refuge). Believing that Kenshiro and friends will make it come true, he then died in peace.
The Hóng Huá Huì's No.2 man. Although he appeared laid back, he can be destructive when angered, his attacks are based on cutting and slicing with his hands. Has a monstrous libido and is known as the "Bride Thief" because of his habit of killing newlywed husbands and taking their wives. He assassinated Charles de Guise's little sister with a time bomb. His next target was Lǐ Xiù-Bǎo, because his resemblance to Pan, but when Kenshiro revealed that Lǐ Xiù-Bǎo was Pan, it made him more determined to claim her, resulting in him fighting Kenshiro with all his strength. Due to a misunderstanding, he believed his stepfather Zhāng Dà-Yán killed his mother and yearns to kill him for it. Later on, after learning the truth, he repented all his past sins with de Guise agreeing not to seek revenge for the time being. He eventually became the new Master of Hokuto Sōkaken after a showdown fight with Zhāng Dà-Yán and earned his father's approval.
Master of the Sōkaken style. Father of the Hong Hua Hui boss, Zhāng Liè-Shān. He later married Zhāng Tài-Yán's mother and had been led to believe Tài-Yán was his child when he was actually the son of her previous husband. Years later Dà-Yán was enraged to learn the truth and his wife killed herself on the condition Dà-Yán spare Zhāng Tài-Yán's life. Noticing the young Tài-Yán's talent, he adopted him and trained him in Sōkaken. Eventually Dà-Yán passed on the title of Sōkaken Master to Tài-Yán after Tài-Yán defeated him. However, Dà-Yán then died as a result of injuries from the fight.
An order of monks who serve Zhāng Tài-Yán. Each is known only by the number of stars they have tattooed on their heads. Their true purpose is to help Tài-Yán become a worthy successor of Hokuto Sōkaken; under the orders of Zhāng Dà-Yán. They were challenged by De Guise, who was intent on protecting Kenshiro, who was fighting Tai-Yan at the time; realizing what De Guise was trying to do, the group thanked him. All of them are armed with a Khakkhara, which they are able to pierce through any object, especially metal.
"North Dipper Liú Family Fist" (北斗劉家拳, Pinyin: Běidǒu Liújiāquán). Same style as Hokuto Ryūken (北斗琉拳, lit. "North Dipper Lapis Lazuli Fist") from Fist of the North Star. According to Hokuto law, when there are no male successors for Hokuto Shinken, a student of the Ryūkaken style can be chosen to be the next successor.
Driven to revenge by the death of his family, Zōng-Wǔ turned evil and joined the Nazis as a German army officer even though he is Chinese. He had the chance to kill Adolf Hitler, but didn't because he felt Hitler is too pitiful a prey for him to kill. He later renounces his evil ways and becomes a monk. His facial features are similar to that of Raoh and Kaioh, implying he maybe a blood relative.
Liú Zōng-Wǔ's former lover. She had her nipples ripped off by him when she attempted to dissuade him from joining the Nazis. She then became a Buddhistnun, but in spite of what Zōng-Wǔ did she still loves him deeply- while she claimed to be wishing to see Zōng-Wǔ dead, she really meant that she wants to see him living out his destiny.
Mistress of the Tài Shèng Yuàn (泰聖院,Taiseiden?) Temple in Ningbo. She is actually Liú Xuán-Xìn's daughter Liú Yuè-Yīng(劉 月英,Ryū Getsuei?) and is the mother of Kenshirō Kasumi.
"Pole Cross Sacred Fist" (極十字聖拳, Pinyin: Jíshízì Shèngquán), an offshoot of Hokuto Ryūkaken. A relatively new style compared to the Hokuto styles, its astrological symbol is the constellation of the Southern Cross and uses stabbing techniques that destroys the body externally. It's assumed to be the precursor to the Nanto Seiken styles.
The grubby founder of Kyokujūji Seiken. Ruì-Yīng was at first the most promising student of Hokuto Ryūkaken of his generation, but left after he become disgruntled since he considered all other practitioners of Ryūkaken too weak by his standards. When he left he asked his Hokuto Ryūkaken master for the right to challenge Hokuto Shinken in order to become the strongest Hokuto Master, but was refused. He then fought his own master but was hit with a poisoned arrow in the leg during the process, which he then chopped off. Wèi Ruì-Yīng later fought Kasumi Tesshin, Kenshirō's father and 61st successor of Hokuto Shinken, to a draw.
Wèi Ruì-Yīng's elder student. Prepared for death, he challenged Kenshiro, but was shot to death by the Nazis before their actual duel. A member of the Communist Party, he accepted a contract for Kasumi's live by the Nationalist Party in exchange for an enormous sum. He is the "Older Brother" of Liu Fei-Yan, being the first student. Dies protecting Wei Rui-Ying from a Nazi sniper.
Wèi Ruì-Yīng's second student. Nicknamed the Death Bird Demon (死鳥鬼, Sǐ Niǎo Guǐ), he befriended Erika and risked his life to protect her. He challenged Charles de Guise to a duel because he thought de Guise cannot bear the responsibility of protecting Erika and ended up killing de Guise. This led to a fight with Kenshiro, and although he was defeated, Erika's influence on him earned him Kenshiro's forgiveness. He was mortally wounded at the hands of Yasaka. Fēi-Yàn, knowing that he was certain to die from his injuries and unwilling to add to Erika's grief by making her witness his death (although, despite Kenshiro and friends' best efforts to avoid mentioning his death, Erika is eventually able to figure it out), asked Kenshiro to send him to sea in a boat. There he recounted all the good things Erika did for him before drawing his last breath.
"West Dipper Lunar Fist" (西斗月拳, Pinyin: Xīdǒu Yuèquán). A martial art of the Yuezhi people. Shuken studied this martial art and blended it with his Hokuto Sōke no Ken (北斗宗家の拳, lit. "North Dipper Lineage's Fist") to create Hokuto Shinken. Seito Gekken uses the Keiraku Hikō, the same vital points used by Hokuto Shinken, to cause destruction, but does so through hitting multiple points through the course of a fight rather than hitting a single point.
Yasaka(ヤサカ?) - A mysterious green-eyed warrior. A descendant of the Yuezhi who carries their nearly 2000-year grudge against the Hokuto. Works as a bodyguard for Dù Tiān-Fēng. Claims his name is ancient Hebrew for "to see God". He appears in the second closing credits of the Sōten no Ken anime.
Yahma(ヤーマ,Yāma?) - a female practitioner from 2000 years ago that was the lover of Shuken.
Leader of the Qīng Bāng, also close friend of Kenshiro. While Kenshiro was away from Shanghai, his Triad gang members were killed one by one. He was tortured for a period of time by the Hong Hua, thus losing his feet from flesh eating rats. Kenshiro saved his life by amputating his already poisoned feet. He now walks with two prosthetic iron shoes.
Pān Guāng-Lín's sister and Kenshirō's girlfriend. She first met Kenshirō after he was badly beaten and she nursed him back to health. She also appears to be some sort of Christian. Her adopted father promised her to Máng Kuáng-Yún as payment. But Yù-Líng was already in love with Kenshiro, and a jealous Kuáng-Yún erased her memory and left her with a nomadicwarlord in Northern China. She became the horse bandit leader Lǐ Xiù-Bǎo (李 秀寶, Ri Shūhō), fighting small guerilla battles against the Imperial Japanese Army, gaining a sense of hatred against the Japanese. She also learned some Praying Mantis martial art. She eventually regains her memories in Shanghai after meeting Kenshiro again, and soon marries him. After Guāng-Lín was crippled in a failed assassination attempt, she succeeds her brother as leader of the Qīng Bāng.
Worked as an assassin for the secret society Qīng-Bāng and was called The Sleeping Dragon (睡龍, Shuì-Lóng). A good friend of Kenshirō Kasumi. At the beginning of the series, the old man works as a food taster for Emperor Pu-Yi and travels with him to Japan. He was captured by the Hóng-Huá Society and was interrogated as to the whereabouts of Yán-Wáng . Even when they cut off his toes, he refused to tell them anything. Dies from his illness by the end of the first story arc.
Hóng Huá Huì
Shanghai's evil "Red Flower Gang" (紅華会,Kōkakai?). Most of them were maimed in some way by Kenshiro during a previous visit to Shanghai prior to the start of the series. Based on the real life Shanghai Red Gang (紅幫Hóng Bāng).
The gigantic leader of the Hóng Huá Society. He is the son of the Hokuto Sōkaken master, Zhāng Dà-Yán, and Zhāng Tài-Yán's older step-brother. Formerly served in the Beiyang Army, he joins the National Revolutionary Army following the collapse of the Beiyang government, eventually becoming a general (this character reflects real historical support the Kuomintang received from various Triad gangs), but also works in secret with Chinese communist groups as well to his own benefit. His father did not train him in Hokuto Sōkaken, something he is very resentful for, but due to his giant stature and overwhelming physical strength he is still deadly wielding a pair of matching giant sai. He later repented his actions after learning the truth behind his father not training him (that Zhāng Dà-Yán could never bring himself to engage his own son in the fight to decide on the new Master of Hokuto Sōkaken, a fight that can very well turn deadly).
The Number Three Boss after Zhāng Liè-Shān & Zhāng Tài-Yán. Due to injuries he suffered at the fists of Kasumi Kenshiro, he must wear a metal contraption on the left side of his head and body. Whenever he moves he always shouts, "A-I-TA!" in pain. He's a big contributor to a corrupt Catholic church that will forgive any sins he confesses for the right price.
The Number Four Boss comes from the province of Canton. Due to injuries he suffered at the fists of Yán Wáng, he is wheelchair-bound and must wear a metal contraption with a crank to raise and lower his head. Jumpy and triggerhappy, he'll shoot anything that bothers him. A slovenly womanizer, Wu desired Pān Guāng-Lín's actress girlfriend Yáng Měi-Yù. The insanely jealous Wu held Pan in his dungeon, intending to use him as the "tiger-meat" in his "Dragon-Tiger Stew". Wu never got the chance, because Yan-Wang knocked Wu into his own boiling cauldron, killing him.
Once nicknamed Shuǐ Hǔ Tian for the bald patch atop his head, he now wears a heavy iron toupee that is bolted to his head, of which he is in denial that it is obvious to anyone that it's a toupee; the weight of it also causes him to easily fall over. Has metal hands. Died from drowning in a bath house after Kenshiro disabled his arms and legs.
A boxer who serves as the champion of the Execution Games held at the Great New World Entertainment Hall. He was responsible for the deaths of countless Qīng Bāng members that were captured by the Hóng Huá Huì and thrown into the ring. While serving in the French IndochinaArmy, he learned Muay Thai in Siam. He is destroyed by Kenshiro Kasumi's rendition of the Hokuto Hyakuretsuken which ends with him striking Tōmonketsu Hashisō pressure point, which causes all of Goran's bones to break within his body, turning him into mush.
The chief of police at the Shanghai French Concession. An ally of the Hóng Huá Huì, he got his position by murdering his predecessor Gitanesdeau, a supporter of the Qīng Bāng. After Pān Guāng-Lín is saved by Kenshiro, he attempts to flee to South America, but is shot to death by Guāng-Lín.
Head of the Kitaōji Zaibatsu and founder of Tōwa Women's University. He and his daughter Aya were saved by Kenshirō in Shanghai from Chen the Weasel and soon became friends with him, giving him a job as a lecturer in at Tōwa University. A collaborator in the Fugu Plan.
Former emperor of China, then emperor of Manchukuo. Purely a puppet of the Japanese Empire, the neurotic Puyi becomes terrified of being assassinated. On April 6, 1935, Puyi came to Japan under the cover of a "Japan-Manchuria Friendship Envoy" to employ the legendary Hokuto Shinken successor Yan-Wang as his bodyguard. Kenshiro assaults him after his men, though Puyi though he was going to kill him; the attack opens his eyes to the fact that he is nothing but a puppet, though he attempts to fight Ken with a sword because he wished to die a man. After Ken spares his life, he admits he wishes he could have been friends with someone like him and seems to come out stronger.
The Captain of the first regiment of Puyi's Manchukuo Imperial Guards, and is known as the "Fist Hero of Hebei". He is a master of Bājíquán, and fights with a metal fan. Years ago, when was working as a bodyguard in Shanghai he was scarred in a fight with Yán Wáng, which resulted in a draw; but felt cheated by Yán Wáng because he refused to use Hokuto Shinken against him (though Ken would later reveal that he only did this because at the time of their first fight, he was not the successor to Hokuto Shinken and that by Hokuto law, only Hokuto Shinken's master could use it in a fight against other martial arts schools). He kidnaps Kenshiro's friend Li and pretends to kill him, in order to drawn out Ken and have a rematch, only to immediately realize that he is no match for Kenshiro and is spared.
A mystical old fortune teller, who appears time to time out of nowhere to talk to (or sometimes taunt) Kenshiro. Other people may or may not notice his appearance or existence, as he seems to possess some kind of mysterious ability to make bystanders forget about him. He gave a "fate medallion" to Kenshiro as a flip coin to help him make a decision when facing a serious dilemma. He also grants worthy people connected to the Hokuto clan a wish about their fate. His identity and agenda have yet to be revealed.
A group of lawless non-Han Chinese bandits roaming in the countryside, elements of whom hired by Zhāng Liè-Shān to cause chaos in Shanghai and reinforce the Hong Hua Triads. They adopted Yu-Ling when her memory was erased.
The big boss of a secret organization called the Tài Hú Bāng (太湖幇, Taikopan, "Lake Tai Gang"). He murdered Zōng-Wǔ's father, Liú Zōng-Jiàn, in order to launder money from him when Zōng-Wǔ was still a child. Yasaka is in his employ. He created an electrified "Pressure Point Defense Suit" that would electrocute anyone that tried to touch him; an attempt at protecting himself from the Hokuto arts. Liú Zōng-Wǔ was able to safely kick him using his rubber-soled boots, shorting out the circuits on his suits and then sending him into the ocean where Dù ended up electrocuting himself to death.
Generalissmo of Kuomintang and President of the Republic of China during World War 2. When Kenshiro kills Luó Hŭ-Chéng, who not only is a treacherous underling of Zhāng Liè-Shān but also happens to be a general in the National Revolutionary Army, Chiang overrules a suggestion to deploy the military against Kenshiro in retaliation, considering the motives behind the latter's actions noble enough to deserve better than execution or covert assassination. Nevertheless agreeing that the Nationalist government can ill-afford a show of weakness, he instead issued an order to find the best Chinese fighter to defeat Kenshiro in a bid to uphold the Chinese honor.
A Colonel in the German Wehrmacht, he works as a military advisor for the Nazi Party and has a side job as an arms dealer. He uses Zōng-Wǔ to prolong the war so he can continue to profit from it. After Zōng-Wǔ kills one of Dù Tiān-Fēng's informant, he tries to kill Zōng-Wǔ at Dù's request, but fails and is killed by Zōng-Wǔ.
A Jewish girl with a photographic memory, Erika has a catalogue of hidden valuable artwork called "The List of Hope" memorized. Nazis pursue her to get this information, and she comes under the protection of Liú Fēi-Yàn to guide her to the Shanghai Ghetto.
Tetsuo Hara wanted the fights in the manga to look more like traditional Chinese martial arts, so the action is somewhat faster and more detailed than those in Fist of the North Star. Hara went to Shanghai in person to get his inspiration. Tetsuo Hara describes the protagonist Kenshiro Kasumi as a combination of the strength of Kenshiro, the good nature of Keiji Maeda from Hana no Keiji and the sarcastic attitude of the title character of Nakabo Rintaro.
Fist of the Blue Sky has been in serialization in the Weekly Comic Bunch since the magazine's first issue, published with the cover date of May 29, 2001. New chapters of Sōten no Ken are published irregularly in the magazine. The manga concluded in 2010 with the final issue of Comic Bunch, lasting a total of 22 volumes.
An English version of Fist of the Blue Sky was serialized in the now-defunct manga anthology Raijin Comics published by Gutsoon! Entertainment from 2002 to 2004. Four collected volumes were published by Gutsoon under the Raijin Graphic Novels imprint before the company went out of business and ceased publication of all their titles.
A weekly anime series based on Sōten no Ken aired on Japan's TV Asahi on Thursdays at 2:40am from October 4, 2006 to March 14, 2007. The series lasted only 26 episodes, but four of the episodes (16-18, and 21) did not air during the original run. The complete series has been released on DVD in Region 2 format by Universal Entertainment Japan, including unaired episodes and uncensored content. The series adapts the storyline from the beginning and up to vol. 8.
"Wanted - the King of Death" "Shōkinkubi En'ō"(賞金首・閻王)
"The Code of Duty" "Kōko no Giki"(江胡の義気)
"The Successor to Hokuto" "Hokuto o Tsugumono"(北斗を継ぐ者)
"Wish Upon the Blue Sky!" "Sōten ni Negae"(蒼天に願え)
"In Shanghai" "Shanhai ni Tatsu"(上海に立つ)
"The Execution Game" "Gyakusatsu no Shokei Yūgi"(虐殺の処刑遊戯)
"The Battle" "Gekitotsu"(激突)
"Pray to the God of Hell" "Jigoku no Kami ni Inore"(地獄の神に祈れ)
"A Destiny Steeped in Blood" "Chi Nurareta Shukumei Yue ni"(血塗られた宿命ゆえに)
"Battle of the Hokuto Masters" "Hokuto Dōshi no Tatakai"(北斗同士の戦い)
"Ask the Dragon" "Ryū ni Toe"(龍に問え)
"Signal of Resurrection" "Fukkatsu no Noroshi"(復活の狼煙)
"At The End of Madness" "Kyōki no Tate ni..."(狂気の果てに...)
"Journey of Fate" "Unmei no Tabi"(運命の旅)
"The Beautiful Horse Bandit" "Utsukishi Bazoku"(美しき馬賊)
"Seeking Refuge" "Ansoku no Chi o Motomete"(安息の地を求めて)
"Death Sentence! The Fallen Palm" "Shi no Senkoku! Datenshō"(死の宣告!堕天掌)
"The Aura of Hokuto Sōkaken" "Hokuto Sōkaken no Tōki"(北斗曹家拳の闘気)
"An Undaunted Offering of Flowers" "Kizentaru Kenka"(毅然たる献花)
"A Trick of Fate" "Unmei no Itazura"(運命の悪戯)
"A Burning Confrontation" "Moetagiru Taiji"(燃えたぎる対峙)
"The Secret Technique of Zhāng Tài-Yán" "Chō Taien no Ōgi"(張太炎の奥義)
"The Unforgettable Pain" "Wasureinu Itami"(忘れ得ぬ痛み)
"A Deep Strong Memory" "Fukaku Tsuyoki Omoi"(深く強き想い)
"A Banquet and a Gunshot" "Shukuen to Jūsei"(祝宴と銃声)
"To a Better Tomorrow" "Yori Yoi Ashita e"(より良い明日へ)
"Bara ga Saku, Bara ga Chiru" (薔薇が咲く 薔薇が散る?, "Roses Bloom, Roses Scatter") by Rina Aiuchi
"Kokoro no Rhythm Tobichiru Butterfly (心のリズム飛び散るバタフライ,Kokoro no Rizumu Tobichiru Batafurai?, "The Rhythm of the Heart is a Fluttering Butterfly") by doa