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|“||You are already dead.||„|
|~ Kenshiro's famous catchphrase|
Kenshiro (Ken for short) is the main character of the Hokuto no Ken manga, anime and related media. He is the 64th successor of the Hokuto Shinken style and considered one of the greatest successors in its history.
Kenshiro was originally an orphan from Taiseiden, Shura and a descendent of the Hokuto Sōke bloodline. He was sent to the mainland by Jukei as a baby to be adopted by Ryuken, master of Hokuto Shinken. Ryuken named him after his older brother Kenshirō Kasumi, since they shared the same Big Dipper-shaped birthmark on their heads.
Kenshiro watched his adoptive brothers train in the art of Hokuto Shinken and decided to join them in the fight to become Ryuken's successor. Despite being younger and more naive than his older brothers, Kenshiro was a promising student who ultimately earned the title of successor.
After the nuclear war and the death of Ryuken, Kenshiro left with his fiancée, Yuria, to find a future for themselves in the post-apocalyptic world. However, this was curtailed by Shin, a rival from the Nanto Seiken School, who defeated Kenshiro and engraved the trademark seven scars on his chest, before kidnapping Yuria for himself.
Kenshiro survived his ordeal and spent the next year wandering the wasteland for revenge. During this time, he learned the killer instinct needed to survive in the war-torn age and befriended two young orphans, Bat and Lin, who followed him on his journey. He discovered that Shin had assumed the title of 'King' and was leader of the eponymous King organization. After defeating Shin's henchmen, he infiltrated his headquarters, Southern Cross, to settle things once and for all. Driven by his new strength, Kenshiro soundly defeated Shin but he was too late to rescue Yuria. Before his death, Shin revealed that Yuria had already committed suicide to stop his violent ambition. Refusing to die from Kenshiro's technique, Shin leapt to his death from the palace balcony, as Yuria did before him.
The grieving Kenshiro continued to journey the wasteland, never staying at one place for long, as the curse of Hokuto leaves only chaos in its wake. He made a career of destroying those who preyed on the weak and innocent, such as the Golan, Jackal and the Fang Clan, which earned himself the reputation as a 'savior' of the people. He also discovered that his three older brothers and fellow Hokuto Shinken practitioners, Jagi, Toki and Raoh, had all survived the nuclear holocaust. Jagi, the second-youngest, had always hated Kenshiro and was now committing acts of carnage in his name. It was also revealed that Jagi manipulated Shin into taking Yuria. Kenshiro caught up with Jagi and delivered him a gruesome death. Kenshiro then fought against his second-oldest brother, Toki, who had succumbed to madness after the apocalypse, but this was in fact Amiba posing as Toki. The real Toki was imprisoned at Cassandra by Raoh, the eldest brother, who had taken the name Ken-Oh (拳王 King of Fists) and aimed to conquer the world with an iron hand. With the help of Rei and Mamiya, Kenshiro toppled the great prison and was reunited with Toki. Toki became a valuable ally to Kenshiro and intervened during his first fight with Raoh, as they were on the verge of killing one another.
Kenshiro joined forces with Shu, leader of a guerilla outfit against Souther, the Holy Emperor and master of Nanto Hōō Ken, who enslaved young children to build his empire. Kenshiro was trumped by Souther when his vital point attacks had no effect on Souther's body. Close to death, Kenshiro was rescued by Shu's son, Shiva, the young boy sacrificing his life in the process. However, Shu was later executed by Souther at the summit of the Holy Pyramid in retaliation. Kenshiro recovered from his wounds and this time he uncovered Souther's secret (his heart was on the opposite side and the position of his vital points were reversed). Kenshiro took pity on Souther's tragic past and killed him with a merciful technique, bringing an end to the Holy Emperor's empire.
With the final battle with Raoh drawing ever near, the mysterious Last Nanto General appeared to challenge Raoh's conquest. It turned out the General's identity was none other than Yuria, Kenshiro's betrothed. In truth, she had been saved by the Nanto Goshasei after attempting suicide at Shin's palace and her survival was kept a secret to protect her from Raoh. Kenshiro fights Raoh using the ultimate Hokuto Shinken technique, Musou Tensei, drawing on his profound sadness, which causes Raoh to retreat in fear. However, Raoh kidnaps Yuria during his escape and prepares to kill the woman he loves if it will grant him the same sorrow. Kenshiro and Raoh have their final battle at the Hokuto Renkitōza, with Raoh having killed Yuria to unlock Musou Tensei. Kenshiro's greater understanding of death and sacrifice gives him the edge over his older brother and leads him to victory. Yuria awakens after the battle, as Raoh had actually put her in a false state of death when he realized she was terminally ill. After Raoh's death, Kenshiro spends his next few years living in peace with Yuria, whose disease had been subdued by Raoh's power.
The latter half of the manga (and the corresponding Hokuto no Ken 2 anime adaptation) sees Kenshiro joining forces with the grown-up Bat and Lin, who have formed the Hokuto Army to oppose the tyrannical Jakou and his Imperial forces. The story eventually takes Kenshiro to his birthplace, the Land of Shura, where he learns of his heritage and fights against the warlords who oppress the land. This includes his estranged blood-brother, Hyoh, and the nefarious Kaioh, Raoh's other blood-brother. The final story arcs of the manga (which were not adapted for the TV series) see Kenshiro taking Raoh's orphaned son, Ryu, under his wing before continuing on his own where he settles the love triangle between himself, Bat and Lin. At the end, Kenshiro heads into the desert alone to fulfill his destiny as the Hokuto Shinken successor.
Although still emotionally repressed and stoic like most male heroes in 1980s media, Kenshirō is notable in anime culture for being a sensitive and kind-hearted man who broke the established "men don't cry" cultural stereotype. He is famous for openly lamenting, if not outright crying, for the suffering of innocents and the deaths of his few noble enemies.
In the face of his enemies, especially those who bully the innocents with power and malice and without any nobility, Kenshiro is a merciless beast. He would administer a most bloody, deserving death using the destructive power of Hokuto Shinken to these evildoers as a punishment for their abuse of power and torture to the innocent. He would occasionally also snark on the method of how his enemies would die, usually to remind the enemy what an evil, regretful life the enemy has led, and thus leading to their demise on his hand.
- Given the time period of Kenshiro's birth in 197X and the apocalypse started in 199X, his true age is up to debate among the readers. If Kenshiro was born in late 1970 and the Apocalypse started in the early 1990s Kenshiro was probably a young teenager and thus the world that Kenshiro lived as a saviour happened later. However if Kenshiro was born in the mid 1970's and the apocalypse started in the mid 1990's Kenshiro was in his early 20's when he first met Lin and Bat. According to Han, Kenshiro was sent to the mainland 25 years prior to his and Kenshiro's battle, implying that Kenshiro is 25–27 years of age around this time, but this has not been confirmed.