In the late 1990s, with society descending into totalitarianism and anarchy, comes Saiga Riki-Oh, a lone wolf devoted to rooting out people's evil karma. To reconnect with a long-lost brother and solve the mystery behind the separated family and its relation to the Star of David on his hand, he punches through gangsters, corrupt martial artists, and more, all while drawing an equal number of hotblooded supporters and insane enemies.
Saiga Riki-Oh is 21. He is in prison for just his first offense. He received a three year sentence for assault, and was imprisoned the year previous. He possesses a robust body, superior intelligence, and a remarkably violent nature. He is marked as a particularly dangerous criminal requiring special attention.
He has five bullets stuck in his chest.
One time, Riki-Oh punches a dude so hard his arm goes elbow deep into flesh till his fist tears out the other side. Minutes later he punches another dude so hard the man's ribs burst out of his side from the impact.
He has a
six-pointed star mark on his hand.
Another time, Riki-Oh punches the air inches in front of a dude whose face recoils as if hit by gale force winds distorting his face with airflow. Afterwards blood spurts out of the man's face anyway, such was the tremendous air pressure caused by Riki-Oh's fist.
He can reattach his own severed tendons in the middle of a fight.
Later in life, Riki-Oh karate-chops a guy in the back of the neck so hard the man's eye pops out.
He likes long walks, sentimentalism and leaf-whistling.
One day Riki-Oh uppercuts a dude so hard his fist punches through the man's chin and out of his mouth. Later to make up for it he 'touch fists' with his homie but disintegrates the dude's arm and punches through it.
This only scratches the surface of Riki-Oh the manga. Underneath the surface are concepts of prison privatisation, a controversial labour source for nations run like ruthless corporations unwilling to accept loss of prisoners due to their collective-self amounting to profit for the Japan Prison Industry and its sociopolit-
You just want to see Riki-Oh decimate another human being into a bloody pulp like a depraved chef decimates ingredients in preparation of a three course meal for a banquet of serial killers.
You want to see Riki-Oh punch cars as they speed at him. Punch hearts out of chests. Punch elephants off their feet.
You want manly art with muscles the size of truck tires, a cast of ugly misfits waiting to be mutilated and debilitated, gaping bloody wounds repaired with barbed wire ripped from chain-link fences.
This is even before whatever semblance of reality the manga had a shred of is completely taken over by telekinetic super-powered brawls, because destroying the human body in physically possible ways gets too boring for author Masahiko Takajo and artist Tetsuya Saruwatari.
Riki-Oh's story eventually, and quite successfully, moves from the prison setup to the apocalyptic cyberpunk dregs of Japanese society run amok by mega-corporations and pollution, while inexplicably weaving religion, or in one bizarre turn of events, an atheistic/theist communist/liberal sibling/Christ conflict, and Armageddon itself into its blood-drenched pages, culminating in Katsuhiro Otomo levels of post-apocalyptic vistas and destruction.
It is in this dystopic futurescape that this violent saga throws hysterically crazy twists and revelations at you, the ones in volume 8 in particular, that are so outrageous you have to save Riki-Oh the trouble and punch yourself. Punch yourself to stop your own laughter from killing you, tears streaming down your bruised face; a face content with the barely believable knowledge that this manga was written, drawn and published by grown adult men.
Riki-Oh might mistake your laughter to be out of spite and not joy, so your punch will be punched and decimated by him. That's what he does.
Riki-Oh the manga will punch pretty much anything, man; animal, inanimate object, your face, your friend's face, your friend's pet's face, and it'll put hairs on your chest.
The story of Riki-Oh is about a "Violence Hero" whose seeks to understand his purpose and uncover his family roots, however his journey is filled with action, sorrow and a surprising religious undertone often hinting at repentance.
At first glance, Riki-Oh just seems to be about a guy who punches people and makes them die violently; just juvenile stuff. But to those familiar with manly series, know that basic plots often leads to a more developed main character; a man who embodies the traits of a good person but is willing to become violent to protect the weak and punish evil.
It goes without saying that this
series is a seinen but feels like a shonen most of the time. This is due to the story being heavily influenced by Fist Of The North Star aka Hokuto no Ken. Riki-Oh as a character definitely bears strong resemblance to Kenshiro but thankfully the series is vastly different from the Hokuto no Ken series, however I personally like to label Riki-Oh as an "unofficial prequel" to Fist Of The North Star.
Much of the content in Riki-Oh is action heavy as the first story arc takes place in prison which often leads to Riki-Oh to kill a villainous thug or martial artist. That alone is enough to draw a comparison to Hokuto no Ken but the series often make obvious "references" with a good example is our main character Riki-Oh Saiga whose a martial artist bearing 5 bullets in his chest and a Star of David on his fist much like Kenshiro's 7 scars shaped like the big dipper and is martial artist, etc. Furthermore, the world of Riki-Oh is on the verge of being placed in a apocalyptic setting due to the high death toll caused by radioactivity. These factors along with the story's structure of a manly hero violently killing villains with his fists makes Riki-Oh a series to cater to shonen fans, specifically those who enjoy a 1980's shonen.
That being said, you don't have to be a fan of Fist Of The North Star to enjoy this series as there's some good and bad in Riki-Oh. The basic plot is Riki-Oh searching for the whereabouts of his brother, but along the way the tone takes a turn for a more religious story involving the life of his father. Taking this a step at a time, Riki-Oh can be separated into 3 arcs the first being in prison, the 2nd involving his brother and last the tale involving his father. Out of the 3, the father story is the one that brings some questionable writing as it feels a bit out of place but is taken very seriously that it leaves me a bit flustered whether to accept or not. I'm getting ahead of myself so let me elaborate on the early chapters.
The Prison Arc begins rather simple but enjoyable as it mainly follows a bad guy of the week formula where Riki-Oh just battles random prisoners but thankfully the series manages to make this starting point quite entertaining due to its violence. Being nicknamed "Violence Hero", Riki-Oh certainly lives up to his name as every battle involves over-the-top violence such as flying jaws, flying eyes, flying brains, flying hearts- everything goes flying when hit by Riki-Oh!! Much of the fun factor in this series is the amazing yet disturbing fight scenes involving the total obliteration of the human body. The gore in this series is drawn with very realistic detail making anyone cringe at certain fight scenes. While the series does develop into more insightful material, the violence in Riki-Oh is here to stay, promising to deliver some gory mayhem.
In terms of story, the prison arc certainly helps in understanding the mindset of our hero and establishes the vulgar and gritty world that is Riki-Oh as it explores corruption and the evils of men. Once the arc finishes, it heads into more supernatural territory often involving science fiction. Basically, the series introduces cyborgs, giant elephants, mutant-like villains, and some martial arts ki energy. This shift in tone is a bit sudden but the series was already over-the-top to begin with so these additions aid its unique setting. This content is featured in the "Brother Arc" as this is arguably the best part of the Riki-Oh series. While most manly series have an emphasis on tragedy and grief, Riki-Oh is a character who is filled with regret which separates him from plenty of characters even those outside of shonen. What I never hear from people talking about this series is Riki-Oh's personal struggle with his past sin and how he is willing to repent. Riki-Oh abandoned his brother for wealth thereby establishing a hero with genuine guilt, which is something that isn't explored that often (Rurouni Kenshin being the best example). In short, Riki-Oh's character is explored in this arc as he confronts his brother along with facing his mistakes. This dilemma places Riki-Oh as a self-loathing character who seeks for punishment rather than forgiveness and that itself is very remarkable. While Riki-Oh does belittle his own life as insignificant and foul, I felt the story helped Riki-Oh discover his identity as a human being; nobody is perfect and we all make mistakes. Many events occur in this arc that it nearly felt as the series should've ended here with the battle between the two brothers but for better or worse the series continues for one more arc involving his father.
The last arc is the longest of the three and at times feels a bit unnecessary as most of the content are random fights showing off the badass feats of Riki-Oh. What makes the last arc questionable are its plot twist involving a lot of religious content with both Jewish and Christian sects. I don't want to spoil things, but the remainder of the story does add a bit of humanity to Riki-Oh's soul as he now has a purpose to rid the world of evil. The problem is if these plot twists can be taken seriously or at least be found believable to some extent. While this manga does indeed have multiple outrageous elements that do require some disbelief, the story does feel a bit made up on the spot. A good example of this is Riki-Oh's sensei who seems to know everything in the story but never tells his student such important plot points till the last second. There's also some character death scenes that are abrupt and don't feel tragically emotional as the author certainly intended. I'm confused in whether to say that the final chapters had bad writing as these events help Riki-Oh develop more into a human being which also gives fourth his identity as a character. The author certainly took these turns very seriously but I never found it as shock value nor did I feel too bothered by the conclusion. I guess its one of those moments where I feel the author may not have planned everything out but somehow pulls it off with the challenges their characters' face. These extra scenarios allowed for Riki-Oh to understand himself and found his purpose in life. He also learned the importance of forgiveness to others and to himself. So I feel the last chapters may come as jarring for some readers but it doesn't ruin the story as a whole.
Riki-Oh is a great series thats pays huge tribute to Fist Of The North Star, but sadly the story never had a villain that can be considered anyone's favorite. While every enemy certainly played their part well in the story, I personally would've liked the series to had more "major" antagonists as most of them are just fodder when compared to Riki-Oh. Despite that little nitpick, Riki-Oh should be considered a manly classic to fans of manly series and should be entertaining to anyone reading this series.
Honestly I started reading it without too much expectations. I've discovered it from a bottom of a very very long line of recommendations for Berserk.
I've read Beatnik's review and decided to give it a shot, but after reading 2 chapters I put that manga down.
But for some reason I kept reading it.
And that's what I think:
In one word E-P-I-C!
The story lacks a little bit, it is quite stupid at start and honestly? Untill the very end it doesn't really change. The twists are childish and idiotic, the battles are very short and gruesome but have no freakin' logic behind them. But that's
the magic of Riki-Oh, which I gave the rare score of 10 in enjoyment.
As soon as I've finished reading the 4th chapter I've said - okay, usually you looking for logic in manga's, at least a little bit of it, but this time just ignore the irrational stuff.
I mean... Punching a man in the face and making a hole in the face. Kicking a man in the toso and with bare hands (or legs) to cut him in two?!
Seriously - No logic!
But it's amazing!!
The fights are the main part, as I like, and unlike many other mangas there tons of them and they are quick, even those who are expected to last a volume or two, usually ends in a chapter or two. A good thing because you never grow tired from a fight, and there are tons of them, usually unique.
Riki-Oh seemed at the beggining as a overpowered bastered who going to do God Moding untill the end, and for my surprise once again - Riki-Oh is far frm being like that. Riki gets hurt a lot, vital or no vitals and finds himself many times in the floor getting his ass kicked. Which is fun.
Also, Riki's a genious, or at least was made that way. He seems to know everything and it's somewhat annoying.
In the wierdness sector we have a few moments that I just have to mention:
Kamehameha. Seriously?! Riki does a fucking Kamehameha in a middle of the battle, witout any reason... Just copies Goku.
Gut-o-Caravan. There is this time our hero gets his ass kicked so hard he drowns in a quicksand. No before he kills the guy who beat the shit outta him a second ago. Then... He digs in his stomach, kill me if I know how, and stays there untill the body is lured out, breaks free from the stomach(alienn vs peredator style)
One of my favourite moments is when Riki finds out he's a jew. As a jew myself I LOL'ed so hard I've almost got a heart attack. I'm sure that it's un-intentional but the mix of he's shocked face from a second earlier(not connected to the jew stuff), the bubble of speech and the enviroment just made me lose it.
In the bottom line - Riki-Oh is great. It's more then great, but awesome.
If you are into gruesome stuff, easy reading manga it's a must!
Most people will know Riki-Oh from the early nineties flick that has garnered quite the cult following, especially after some of the ridiculously over-the-top fight scenes appeared on the internet years ago. Since then, I only ever hear about the movie, never about the manga on which it is based. So I strapped myself in for a testosterone laden 75-chapter romp, and boy was I in for a surprise.
Most people drop Riki-Oh after the first ten or fifteen chapters because the story goes from crazy to fucking insane. Riki-Oh begins as what appears to be a prison drama, where our titular character is a huge
badass who kills those who hurt the innocent, in turn pissing off the warden and those the warden keeps as subordinates. Riki-Oh is in search of his brother, Nachi, who bears a swastika on his hand. Riki-Oh has the Star of David on his and together the brothers are known as the Brothers of Destruction.
Anyway, the prison thing doesn’t go anywhere and Riki-Oh finds his brother at a secret nuclear base where lots of fighting ensues. This is followed by Riki-Oh searching for his father and learning more about his mother. And then finding his father and beating a bunch of people up…so on and so forth.
The story is, let’s face it, stupid. It gets stupider the closer you get to the end with random Nazis, random undead guys, and even an appearance from an out-of-place science fiction idea that shows up in chapter 74 when none of the other chapters ever established any sort of science fiction anything.
I can see why people quit because the beginning is self contained and feels like it will keep being a prison drama of some sort. Once Riki-Oh gets out, things fall apart and those not in the market for a plot that is almost more ridiculous than the deaths of the enemies will want out.
That said, I don’t think Riki-Oh cares and that’s what made it so enjoyable for me. It’s one of those eighties manly-man manga where the plot comes second to huge dudes saying cool things and then proceeding to turn people to bloody puddles with their fists. Riki-Oh has some of the best frames of idiotic violence I’ve ever seen in all my years of reading manga (which I’ll be posting at the end of this review). If nothing else, you’ll find yourself reading this just to see how someone dies in the next chapter.
The art is also really good. Every frame is detailed just enough to bring a very nice realness to it all.
I know this review is short, but I can’t say too much about Riki-Oh because there isn’t much here. The plot is absolutely batshit. By the end there’s all this religious symbolism being thrown around and an idea about killing all humans to become a one true God. It’s a convoluted mess of “DOOOWHAAAA?” moments that compound to create an endearingly strange and exceptionally violent experience. The characters are all weak, the art is fantastic (as is the violence), but other than that, there’s nothing.
It’s not refined in the least, nor is it technically good, but Riki-Oh is the kind of dumbass fun you ask for on a boring winter day. For me, this is appealing for a very niche crowd and that crowd will gobble it up. So if you didn’t find Fist of the North Star or Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure to be your thing, you’d be best skipping this one. But if you did, this is even more ridiculous than . And I can’t believe I just said that.