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North Bound

North Bound

by maiji
A long, long time ago in medieval Japan, two youkai met. One would become a famed demon king. The other, his loyal right hand man. But before any of that happened, a bunch of other stuff did. Probably.

NORTH BOUND is a fancomic exploring the adventures of Hokushin and Raizen 700 years before a certain hotheaded punk gets run over by a car and ends up becoming a Spirit Detective. It follows the continuity of the fanfic Mirror Most Dark, which takes place approximately 1,000 years before the events of Yu Yu Hakusho.
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North Bound

A long, long time ago in medieval Japan, two youkai met. One would become a famed demon king. The other, his loyal right hand man. But before any of that happened, a bunch of other stuff did. Probably.

NORTH BOUND is a fancomic exploring the adventures of Hokushin and Raizen 700 years before a certain hotheaded punk gets run over by a car and ends up becoming a Spirit Detective. It follows the continuity of the fanfic Mirror Most Dark, which takes place approximately 1,000 years before the events of Yu Yu Hakusho.

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Recent Comments

maiji
March 22nd, 2019
This was supposed to be a very short quick draw but it ended up being practically 2x the number of pages I originally intended.
@dmr11: That's right :) I made this adaptation based on the fact that in the original series, Hokushin says that he can reach out and grab a rock from 20km away, and his arm is shown stretching in both the manga and the anime (much more obviously in the latter).

Hokushin's never officially identified as a rokurokubi, but quite a few fans made the association over the years. In one of the stories that will be posted in the future (probably mid next week), A House That Holds Long Limbs, I go deeper into the mythology of rokurokubi in the NORTH BOUND universe. Hope you enjoy it! :D
So the Rokurokubi here could also stretch arms, not just the neck?
maiji
March 17th, 2019
Originally posted December 24, 2018. Original comment: "妖怪がいるのか
Any demons here?[...] Inspired by some old Japanese prints with shadow puppets - one of them included a rokurokubi."
maiji
March 16th, 2019
Original comment from January 15, 2019: "And that’s why Hokushin’s still eating humans when Yusuke meets him.

Phew! Another 51 pages done. A new set of the latest North Bound comics and art will be going up on pixiv soon.

1) Some writer/artist problems: dead bodies and blood. I had a lot of discussions with myself about this, and even just now (before hitting post) was like, “Is there enough/too much blood?” Well, it’s a dead body, so no blood pumping… but not dead so long that all the blood has coagulated… so most of the blood on Hokushin is just him making a mess on himself I guess. It’s times like this I’m glad the drawing style I’m using is so sketchy and open to wide latitudes of interpretation lmao

2) I’m at a bit of a crossroads now. I have one more story that’s ready to draw, and then I can go into the introduction of A NEW CHARACTER who is a character already existing in Yu Yu Hakusho. Except I’ve developed scripts for other stories with just Hokushin and Raizen before this other character joins. But I’m tired of putting off the appearance of more characters who will be with us for the long haul. I can always go back and draw “more fun times with Hokushin and Raizen before everyone else showed up” since everything is an ancient flashback anyways right?? Anyways we’ll see what ends up getting done first in between all my other projects.[...]"
maiji
March 16th, 2019
Originally posted January 15, 2019.
maiji
March 16th, 2019
Original comment from December 5, 2018: "The young man in the flashback is Hokushin’s second lord, who appeared in the previous Part 3′s flashback as a baby."
maiji
March 16th, 2019
"Original comment from December 5, 2018: "In Mirror Most Dark, the necklace is the binding mechanism used by Hokushin’s first lord to ensure that demons obey his (family’s) bidding. To a demon, of course, I think it makes sense for it to be perceived as a curse. It doesn’t work anymore as that bloodline is dead, so Hokushin keeps it only as a memento.

As much as possible I try to pull key plot points and build based directly on things from the actual series, because Togashi left so many interesting little tidbits to flesh out. Hokushin’s necklace, as you may already know from my previous posts, appears in both the manga and the anime (see Volume 17 or episode 96 when Hokushin shows Yusuke the energy limiter he’s wearing), and has been greatly expanded upon in the North Bound universe.

Similarly, I took Raizen’s comment about the scent of magic/power that he detected on the kudakusushi, and played it up in depicting his ability to sense and analyze psychic energy. Raizen tracking things down/checking stuff out based on smell is used several times in A House That Holds Long Limbs."
maiji
March 16th, 2019
Originally posted December 5, 2018. I like imagining Raizen looking at random things and going "Nice, very nice" apparently.
maiji
March 16th, 2019
Original comment from November 8, 2018: "In [this] flashback, Hokushin is maybe late teens to early twenties, with his first lord and his second lord as an infant. This is a fleshing out of parts of Mirror Most Dark - what happened after the death of his first lord’s lady.

There are some historical inaccuracies - some intentional, some I gave up because I couldn’t find details on the type of information I was looking for and I was running out of time, and probably other accidental ones I’m not even aware of. Hokushin’s hairstyle is probably the most obvious, but I stuck with what I’ve been giving him for North Bound and Mirror Most Dark because of the need for consistency (it’s already kind of hard to identify him since I’ve had to adjust his actual series design). The fact that the female servants are just wandering around out in the open in Hokushin’s presence instead of being behind screens is another one. As usual, please forgive lol

TBH I wasn’t thinking this specific comic would get so long… "
maiji
March 16th, 2019
Originally posted November 8, 2018. Original comment: "I decided to compromise. The Heian era flashbacks get waterbrush on top of the ink, and the “present day” Kamakura period is just straight fude de mannen inking, no water."
maiji
March 13th, 2019
Original comment from October 25, 2018: "Bonus scrap paper doodle while I was doublechecking that their positions for the last two panels mostly made sense"
Original comment from October 25, 2018: "I’m the type of person who turns comic pages around to see how drawings look the other way when people are upside down (and also the type of person who looks at the reverse of drawings when something seems to be symmetrical auuuugh no it’s not lmao). In case you are also that type of person, here’s the last page reoriented so you don’t have to flip your screen[.]"
maiji
March 13th, 2019
Original comment from October 25, 2018: "Always scream people’s names multiple times along with “Are you OK??” “Say something!!” and flop their comatose body around. That’s how it works in dramatic situations.

Hokushin is the only one of Raizen’s followers confirmed to be a demon who, like Raizen, must also eat humans. He tells Yusuke that he’s continuing to do so in order to maintain his strength to defend the territory against Mukuro and Yomi’s forces, but that he’ll stop once the conflict is over. The way he says it always suggested to me that in the past he tried and it didn’t work out too well…

While Raizen’s situation is often simplified by many people (including me) as starvation, the original text is more like malnutrition. In other words, he is not necessarily not eating anything. It is specifically the lack of humans in his diet that has resulted in the deterioration of his condition over the centuries, accelerated in his final moments to nearly complete madness. Now, we all know Raizen’s a pretty damn powerful god-tier demon. What might this look like for a lesser demon much earlier in the cycle? Here I imagined it vaguely like a massive blood sugar crash."
maiji
March 13th, 2019
Originally posted October 25, 2018.
maiji
March 13th, 2019
Original comment from September 5, 2018: "Hokushin, age ~13-15, being instructed by his first lord, a human noble who is a powerful psychic. This flashback takes place during the Heian period, maybe a century or two before Hokushin meets Raizen and receives that name. For how they went about resolving his nutritional intake problems and how everything eventually went downhill, see Mirror Most Dark.

This story, exploring issues around Hokushin’s human-based diet, is growing a little longer than I originally anticipated. Hopefully it doesn’t spiral outta control like A House That Holds Long Limbs. (Or like North Bound in general lol… too late…)

As mentioned before, a fun thing about working on North Bound is all the little moments of when I manage to grasp a tiny inkling of the span of human history. For example, rokurokubi are often considered a quintessential traditional Japanese youkai. However, documented stories of rokurokubi generally date from the Edo period. So when Hokushin’s first lord says “Are you familiar with the term” NO DUDE IT HASN’T EVEN BEEN INVENTED YET WAIT SEVERAL HUNDRED YEARS

I had loaded my fude de mannen pen with Diamine Night Sky when I was working on the Genji illustration, so I decide to use the rest of it for this comic. You can’t really see it in the scans but it’s quite glittery. Anything dark (like Hokushin’s hair) is super glittery in person."
maiji
March 13th, 2019
Originally posted September 5, 2018.
maiji
March 10th, 2019
Originally posted September 30, 2018 alongside the next drawing.
maiji
March 10th, 2019
Original comment from September 30, 2018: "I just put a new red ink into one of my brush pens and I needed to draw something to get it flowing lol.

When I started seriously fleshing out Hokushin’s backstory for North Bound/the Loyal Retainer, I knew I wanted to set his origins or formative time at least as far back as 700 years, because this is the timeframe Raizen states in Yu Yu Hakusho for his meeting with the kudakusushi. My goal was to align with it so that it’d be conceivable for Raizen to have split off from his friends, and then for Hokushin and Raizen to both be wandering the countryside so that they could bump into each other. I debated between two potential approaches, each heavily referencing a famous Japanese classic to give me a convenient baseline for setting and tone:

- “Genji Monogatari” style - Heian era/imperial court
- “Heike Monogatari” style - Kamakura era/samurai battlefields

The initial pages of First Meeting - June 2017 - were actually drawn with the “Heike” idea in mind, but the “Genji” version, where a young Hokushin is captured and raised by a psychic aristocrat, was the one that eventually won out. By the time I finished Mirror Most Dark in Sept 2017 it was too late to get out of the Heian period (in a manner of speaking lol). But in an alternate universe, the Heike version was something like this:

Hokushin is a loyal Taira clan retainer during the beginning of the Kamakura period. In the midst of the Genpei War between the Taira and Minamoto clans, he commits a blasphemous act (possibly associated with the Mirror of Darkness) in an attempt to save his master somebody-or-another (lol I didn’t figure this out yet), and is cursed to become a rokurokubi. Getting a little gruesome here, there was possibly some human Hokushin killing/beheading involved before it’s actually revealed he’s become a youkai. It’s pretty common in folklore for youkai to have formerly been humans in life, and the nukekubi - a variant of rokurokubi believed to be of older origins - fully separates its head from its body. Kirin would have somehow figured into this as well, possibly on the Minamoto side. When I did this illustration of the three demon generals, I was still thinking about how this would all work out.

There were several reasons I ended up dropping the Heike version.

1) The storytelling merits of being born as a rokurokubi VS being cursed as one as an adult human.

- From the perspective of rokurokubi mythology, both work. But the former was a lot easier to flesh out for giving Hokushin personal motivation to align with Raizen’s vision.
- The former also had a better fit and more potential in terms of how youkai are depicted in the actual Yu Yu Hakusho universe. Although Yu Yu Hakusho itself still has a lot of inconsistencies because of the active mixture of Asian folklore and science, but what’re you gonna do.
- In Ends of the Earth, I had a line where Hokushin says “I was never human”. The cursed-as-an-adult-human obviously messes this up. Not that anyone really cares since these are all fanworks, but the thought annoyed the hell out of me.

All of the above meant the Genji version had a lot more practical things going for it, while the Heike version was mostly lots of opportunity for drama/horror. Also, since we’re talking about two consecutive periods of history, hypothetically I could give Hokushin the Genji version backstory, and still have him be involved in the Genpei War, albeit in a slightly different capacity with no beheading.

Another thing about the Genji version is that when Hokushin is telling Yusuke the story of the Demon World in Yu Yu Hakusho, he says something like, “The king has not eaten humans for nearly a thousand years.” For a long time when I was younger I misremembered it as Hokushin saying actually 1000 years (instead of “nearly”) and that because Raizen said 700 years this meant one of them had a bad memory or couldn’t count or something (probably Raizen) lmao. Anyways, 1000 years puts us into the Heian period, so I thought that was just a nice closing of a totally arbitrary circle that vaguely links this idea to something Hokushin sort of says lol.

After more consideration I dropped focusing on the Genpei War as the actual backdrop because:

2) It’s arguably too epic.

- The war is so infamous and has so many epic/dramatic conflicts and renowned people that it would’ve easily overshadowed the main point (development of Hokushin and Raizen relationship, interaction and dynamics).
- It would’ve had to deal with way more politics and historical figures and I already knew I was gonna get stupidly obsessive with research on the most random things and the scale of this was too scary and I would be almost guaranteed to fall down a rabbit hole and be too intimidated to actually get anything done, especially at the very beginning of this project. Maybe later on I’d feel a bit more confident.
- Also the thought of drawing pages and pages of hundreds of warriors in period armor was noooooooo I don’t wannaaaa.

TL;DR First Meeting probably takes place after the Genpei War, I’m just not focusing on it.

All that said, I still have lots of plans for some BIG COOL historical references and cameos if I ever manage to get far enough in North Bound aaaaghhh."
Originally posted September 1, 2018. Original comment: "Had a crummy end to the week and also a stupid scare today. So here’s a prequel Raizen and Hokushin that is a nice interaction for once. Unless Hokushin’s eyebrow is actually giving away that this is his “hahaha-laugh-politely-in-front-of-the-humans-I’m-having-an-apoplectic-fit-inside/g oing-to-kill-you-later” expression."