Otokojuku: a private school for juvenile delinquents that were previously expelled from normal schools. At this school, Japanese chivalry is taught through feudal and military fundamentals. Similar to an action film, the classes are overwhelmed by violence. Only those who survive it become true men.
Sakigake Otokojuku is the world's MANLIEST school where students refine their manhood in the most masculine & over the top way possible! That's the gist of it but it can offer more to those who already acquired MANIME tastes. For example if you're a fan of Fist Of The North Star, then Otokojuku pays a huge tribute to the series in terms of action & character designs.
If you're not a fan of masculine shows then there might not be much to offer but I'll offer some insight. The story follows the schools newly appointed 1st years where our main cast consists of Momotaro, Togashi,
J, Toramaru, & the comic relief trio Hidemaro, Tazawa & Matsuo. The theme of the show is to become a better person who bear masculine ideologies such as guts, friendship, & tenacity. The beginning of the anime is gag arc where we get to learn of the outrageous training students have to endure such as marching through buildings, doing push ups to avoid getting blazed by flame throwers, boxing with spiked gloves, & even play a death battle of rugby.
Quite early on the series shifts into shonen battles where our main cast battles a rival school & eventually face their third years in mortal combat. Most of the battles don't contain super powers but deliver bizarre martial arts & intense savagery. While the anime doesn't cover the full story, it does emphasize the characters' determination to win at all costs. School spirit has been so impressive where even the comic relief characters have badass scenes.
In terms of battle hype, there's plenty to go around especially with the final episodes of the series. Sadly, the anime needs to be rebooted or continued as the GREATEST TOURNAMENT ARC in shonen history needs to be adapted. From chapter 70 onwards the manga covers a 16 Man VS 16 Man tournament. 16 people per team definitely sounds outrageous & thrilling for a tourny but guess what? The arc doesn't have 2 teams... it has 32 participants each with a team of 16 characters. @_@ That's a lot of fights.
Sakigake!! Otokojuku Review
Now I understand that this isn't Fist of North Star which you can obviously see the resemblance and is also most likely the reason Toei decided to pick up this series to do an anime adaptation for because they were obviously trying to create another Fist of the North Star so it's not surprising if this was their plan.
Story (5/10) Average
The Story starts off like how a lot of anime starts off (which I don't mind), this is a slow start with a combination of introducing characters and episodic arguably filler comedic episodes in between. Then once it gets all of the character
it takes off.
You can break this entire anime adaptation into about 4 Arcs.
1) Otokojuku Introduction Arc
2) Second Years Part 1 Akashi Gouji Arc
3) Second Years Part 2 Date Omito Arc
4) Third Years Daigouin Jaki Arc
With about Four Arc covered in the anime adaptation by Toei within 34 episodes I think as far as pacing with the first arc could have been better there is a bit too many little filler comedy episodic episodes within that arc. Now I'm not saying there's a problem with those types of episodes but one can easily tell that the last arc (3rd Years Arc) suffered because Toei most likely (and this happens a lot to Toei) ran out of budget. Certain fights where entirely skipped in the last arc only to be shown to use in quick slide shows by a character telling another character (who was asking what happened) what happened and what he missed, it was a sad attempt to quick skip over fights that could have been good and where most likely not skipped in the Manga which has 300+ Chapters if I'm not mistaken. Toei obviously just wanted to quickly throw this adaptation out there as pacing suffered in my opinion.
Art (7/10) Good
For an anime that came out in the late 80's you can't really judge it by how things look today. But you can compare it to how other things looks back then like the other Toei animated adaptation Fist of the North Star. Now when you take that into consideration this looks identical to that obviously it was the same animators and artist from that team to do this and I didn't have a problem with it. I know how Toei does things to I my expectations where already at a point were I could be impressed or disappointed I kind of knew what I was in for.
Sound (8/10) Very Good
Probably the best thing about this show is the sound and by sound I mean everything sound related. The Opening was catchy I never skipped it, the voice actors were good, the OSTs that played through out the anime was also enjoyable and it fit very well. Even though I did hear sound effects that I know Toei obviosuly migrated from FOTNS to here (example the nerve reaction sound effect prompts in FOTNS when Kenshiro hit's someone's vital points and also the explosion sound of that person when it happens) but I didn't necessarily mind it but I do feel they could have found or created a sound effect that was unique for the anime instead of being lazy and just re-using stuff but oh well it was the 80s and it's Toei.
Character (6/10) Fine
I think the characters introduced was fine nothing more nothing less. But I do feel a backstory on Momotaro should have been addressed whether the manga did it or not we do not know anything about him. If anyone got a good backstory presentation I would say it would be Togashi Genji but even the way they present it was fine of mediocre (and this most likely the mangaka's fault but Toei once again). He had a reasonable backstory which I felt connected to but Toei I felt could have done a better job presenting it as some details on his backstory weren't explain until the very last episode (which was a 17 minutes of recap of the entire anime.) All the other characters that had backstory were fine, little or none-existent which I'm not asking for a amazing backstory for every single character it's just the one's they decided to focus on should have been done better. And I would talk about Plot armor but I'll save that for the next section.
Enjoyment (6/10) Fine
My enjoyment of the entire anime adaptation is sitting at a 6 which is fine. The one thing about this anime that urked me a bit at first then quite a lot around the end is the plot armor. I'm not going to say anymore about it but just know this anime doesn't like to kill off it's characters it'll definitely spend the time building up a death and the tragedy of it when it happens and watching the other characters cry over it but then something will happen and they'll try to vaguely explain how this person isn't dead which is fine when you do it like once maybe twice or three times the most but the amount of plot armor in this series definitely felt like a slap to my face. Other than that enjoyment of other things like the comedy was fine not hilarious just fine, the fight scenes were also fine nothing mind blowing just fine, honestly the mot enjoyment I got out of this anime was singing along to the intro music.
Overall (6/10) Fine
The anime I personally felt would have probably been better if it was not in the hands of Toei basically trying to make another hit like FOTNS (even the the series hints at a lot of the similarities between the to down to character design between characters examples include Akashi's should pads or Hien basically looking like Shin from FOTNS's twin brother) that doesn't give them the right to try and treat it like it's FOTNS because at the end of the day it's not FOTNS it's Sakigake!! Otokojuku and I don't respect Toei for the decisions they made when it came to adapting this series it could have been better if it gets a remake by a different company in the future you would know what I mean but this isn't the first time I've been unsatisfied by the decisions of Toei but they still get me every time.
For the Japanese, Sakigake!! Otokojuku is a Cult Classic to the degree that any Japanese Otaku has either watched/read it or atleast knows about it and can quote many of its memorable lines and the Memes it spawned(for example,"Minmei Publishing"is still quoted as the source of any outrageous statement about martial arts). It is popular to the degree that its manga's spinoffs are still going strong today,32 years after it started. For Western fans though,it is unfortunately a VERY underrated and underappreciated show that a lot more people imo should checkout.
So what is Sakigake!! Otokojuku? well,the 80s was the decade of MANLINESS BATTLE Manga,with series
such as Fist Of the North Star and JoJo's Bizarre Adventures being smash hits with tons and tons of fans. Sakigake!! Is an extremely over the top parody of everything battle manga. In this respect the closest modern equivalent would be One Punch Man,but that is where the similarities end as the approaches of the two series to the parody are completely different.
Sakigake is a school that teaches MANLINESS. the students(mostly composed of Japan's worst delinquents)do crazy hard tasks and training all for the sake of becoming more MANLY. the Headmaster is a World War 2 hero who REALLY loves to announce who he is loudly scaring EVERYONE with the strength of his voice,which is so strong that it can destroy the speakers of a helicopter.Your Main Protagonist,Tsurugi Momotaro, is always calm and serious no matter what happens. he is the guy that you know will win despite all the overwhelming odds. he is the head of Sakigake's First year students,and is gradually accompanied by more main characters during the series(who die more than once,by methods that include falling in a pit of sulfuric acid and falling off a mountain,only to be miraculously alive after. Because GUTS.)
The First half of the Anime is 100% Comedy and parody,and it is INCREDIBLE. i havent laughed so hard in ages at an episode,let alone continuing to laugh that hard for all the first half!
The second half is the battle arcs. however,the battles are,surprisingly enough,enjoyable both as "Shounen anime battles"and as "Parodies of shounen anime battles". they have a ton of epicness in them,yet at the same time you can clearly feel and enjoy the underlying parody. It is an impressive concoction,and a very enjoyable one. The only annoying part is that the last few battles feel rushed,including 2 major battles only being shown in a summarized fashion,yet the final episode is mostly a recap. not sure why they did that,and it is the only reason i gave the anime a 9/10 instead of a 10/10
Overall,this anime is incredible,and I recommend it to everyone and hope it gets a lot more fans than it currently has :)
I gave it a 7/10 but hey! Hold on! I loved it! I really did. But looking at it through and "objective" prism, its nothing stellar. But still 7/10 is a great number. But getting to the point....
I'll begin with the bad things. The story is a bit shallow and predictable. And the scenario sometimes betrays itself, not respecting the choices it has taken for some characters throughout the story. Also, sometimes the motif gets too repetitive, with bad guys coming and going all the time. To be honest, when I reached half of the series I was thinking to drop it, as I mostly
found myself not wanting to watch more than one episode each time. But after that half, some things get more exciting in some aspects, and pushed me to watch it in the end.
And now for the good things. First of all I love the animation. Its superb. So well worked and good to the eye. The voice actors are all great, and the music is STELLAR! I loved its sound. It had that dark 80's shounen feeling of Dragonball or Hokuto No Ken. And as I said dark, I loved the serie's atmosphere. Most probably is what caused me to watch it till the end. So dark and gloomy, with those red skies, super dark shadows, traditional Japanese touches there and there, with historical flashbacks and stuff, and a touch of demonish feeling. And the humour in this anime is great. I adored the characters and their over the top manliness and obsession to honour and guts. In the end this series left me a nice taste. So nice that im about to watch it again after some time. I totally suggest that the fans of HnK or DB watch it immediately.