The wildly popular Fist of the North Star has been everything from a manga to an anime to a series of video games, but now it’s come full circle as a planned stage and musical version by Tokyo’s Horipro Stage.
First released as a manga in 1983, Fist of the North Star was written by Buronson and illustrated by Tetsuo Hara. It tells the tale of a martial artist named Kenshiro who dedicates his life to defending the weak in a post-apocalyptic nuclear wasteland. The creators cited several points of inspiration from Bruce Lee to Mad Max.
What may be most compelling about this adaptation to a stage play and musical is the fact that the original stories are so violent. It will be interesting to see how they pull off that violence in a stage setting and if fans of the original will be receptive.
According to SoraNews24, the role of Kenshiro will be played by 32-year-old Yusuke Onuki who is no stranger to musicals. Yusuke has played Bert in the Japanese stage play Mary Poppins, as well as the older Billy in Billy Elliot: The Musical.
Yusuke does realize that this role will be an extra challenge. “Physically, this is going to be an extremely demanding production,” he said about the added pressure of adding martial arts to the singing and dancing of a normal production.
But he does realize how special and important his performance will be for such an iconic character. “Fist of the North Star is a series that has been loved by so many people for such a long time,” he said. “I feel a lot of pressure, so I want to turn in a performance that people will be satisfied with.”
Additional cast members include Tahuya Uehara, Kandai Ueda, Kanata Irei, Rio Uehara, Kazuki Kato, and Ryunosuke Onoda.
With the extent of Fist of the North Star’s saga throughout 27 manga volumes and 150 anime episodes over the years, it’s unclear if the stage play or musical will explore the entire series or pick one particular part, but the play’s official website does mention a key plot point when Kenshiro’s master, Ryuken, is assassinated by Raoh and his lover, Yuria, is kidnapped by Shin.
Fist of the North Star is expected to premiere at Tokyo’s Nissay Theatre in December of 2021 while a performance in China is expected for 2022.