Set in a land where several martial arts styles collide, including (but not limited to) Chinese Kung Fu, Japanese Karate, and South Korean Taekwondo. Yet amongst these Shaolin-trained fighters and men powerful enough to cut the face of a mountain, Victory Ramenman is said to be the strongest of them all. At a young age, he witnessed his father Somenman being murdered by members of the Cobra Gang (who are still running rampant to this day). Found and taken in by the wise old Chen Sou-Mei, Ramenman trains for 12 years under his master and learns the great Essential Battle Dragon (闘龍極意書, To Ryuu Gokui Sho) style of Choujin Martial arts. Now, with his young sidekick Shao-Mai, Ramenman travels the land seeking vengeance for his father, fighting several villains along the way.
This anime is a spin-off from the wrestling series Kinnikuman, however Kinnikuman knowledge isn't necessary to watch this series. Tatakae!! Ramenman is a very episodic series filled with martial arts action usually being over-the-top but shares themes of heroism and honor. In short, this series is the Chinese version of Fist Of The North Star.
As mentioned earlier, the titular character Ramenman was originally from Kinnikuman but due to massive popularity Ramenman earned his own manga series which eventually became adapted into anime form. While it is a spin-off to Kinnikuman, Tatakae!! Ramenman follows it own mythology beginning from Ramenman's childhood and his further training as a man. The series is set in vague locations in China but occasionally diverts into fictional martial arts and sometimes science fiction. Ramenman is a wandering hero who seeks to reach an enlightened state as a martial artist. He also has a duty to fulfill his school's teachings and follow them to the letter. Most of the action comes from Ramenman having to save a village from bandits and villainous martial artists which usually lead Ramenman to show off his 102 techniques (although we only see about 20 or so). Ramenman is accompanied by his student; a boy named Shumai whose actress voices Meat in Kinnikuman. As you may have noticed, the basic set up is similar to Fist Of The North Star but as an interesting piece of shonen history... Tatakae!! Ramenman manga predates Fist Of The North Star. It is debatable whether which series came up with certain ideas first but both anime/manga still contain their own differences.
The series focuses on Ramenman's travels in China but will occasionally be forced to train to master a new technique or reminisces of his younger days as a disciple. It's events such as these that the stop series from getting repetitive as these multiple scenarios allow for Ramenman to gain wisdom and shows that he isn't completely invincible. As expected in martial arts shonen, the anime creates a mystical atmosphere but also follows the same tropes of 1980's shonen which often revolve around the concepts of masculinity, justice, friendship and sometimes love.
One flaw to the series is the lack of more intimidating villains. While there's plenty of foes giving worthy challenges to Ramenman, none of them really offer an interesting foil to Ramenman or can be respected as a fan favorite among other anime villains. Despite being episodic there are two ongoing plots or perhaps better said recurring scenarios. One conflict is Ramenman searching for his sister which he finds early on the series but doesn't want to reveal being her brother as his sister hates martial artists. Personally, I didn't find this subplot too important to the series and could've been better without it. The one recurring villain is man named Jewel King whose notable feature is being voiced by the late Kenji Utsumi(Raoh, Kamogawa, Senbei Norimaki and various others.) While he does come prepared with new methods in an attempt to defeat Ramenman, it does get a bit tiring seeing him escape and shouting "I'll get you next time Ramenman!"
This being the work of Yudetamago also shares certain inconsistencies similar to their work in Kinnikuman. Basically, expect some bizarre moments or errors such as a character losing his arm only to have it back a few episodes later. It should be noted that the series gradually turns more like Kinnikuman as it nears its ending. The best example is the final arc as it becomes a tournament battle complete with referees bearing a similar tone to Kinnikuman's wrestling matches.
Tatakae!! Ramenman is an amazing shonen series that embraces the martial arts gimmick in a mostly serious tone. Unlike the Kinnikuman anime, Ramenman's spin-off has a great balance of utilizing comedy and its over-the-top action as much of the martial arts are very ludicrous but filled with enjoyable creativity. My last words of criticism is the series length as the last two episodes are just a recap of the anime, ending with a final shot of new animation as it bids farewell. Ramenman... he's RAMENMANLY!!!read more