During the closing years of the civil war period and uneasy reign of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, when men high and low scramble to follow conventional propriety so that they don't attract undue notice (or death) to themselves, there is one very bizarre individual who is known for his legendarily outlandish and wild personality, physical appearance and behavior. This series traces the dramatic adventures of Keiji Maeda from personal conflicts with his adopted Maeda family, brave combat exploits, travels to the capital, and relationships with famous existing figures such as Iyeyasu Tokugawa, Rikyuu the tea master, and Hideyoshi himself, to experiences with the foreign and Japanese Christian faithful.
A lost gem from Japan. If you've ever had any interest in samurai and the Warring States period I'd highly recommend it. Rest assured the big three figures of the period (Nobunaga Hideyoshi Ieyasu) along with many others will appear.
Now unfortunately, only the first 30 chapters appear to be out there in English. There are efforts out there to translate the rest on hokutonogun.com, but they seemed to have stalled in the editing phase. In the meantime though, I can attest to the rest of the chapters in this review, having read them in Japanese. I'll admit, I'm still learning so I only half understood
what was going on, but at least it's a visual media and I was never too lost.
Speaking of which, the artwork is fantastic. I read a reprinted version of the manga with big pages and it does great service to the artwork. It can be both beautiful and horrific (lots of violence in this manga with people getting chopped up). I would say though that there are a good number of characters that look pretty similar. This manga loves to have well-shaped manly men.
The time period can be pretty fascinating. You will learn many things about the time period and culture; sometimes there are entire pages between chapters that give background to the events of the book. There are some more supernatural elements thrown in, but it mostly sticks to realism. As for reading it in Japanese, it uses tons of older samurai language and slang, obviously many steps away from how they probably spoke then but still. I thought this was bad at first due to my limited Japanese level, but I got used to it and started to enjoy it.
The story itself surrounds Maeda Keiji, a roaming kabukimono, which has been described as an "Edo-period eccentric who attracted public attention with their eye-catching clothes, peculiar hairstyle, and weird behavior," which is a good way to describe Keiji. He will often break social taboos in strange ways but it's good because it somehow leads to something good. (As an example, his friend has been gravely injured and is lying on the ground so what does he do? Pee on him. But it's all good because he did it to clean the guy's wounds. So his friend is actually grateful that he got peed on.)
The plot of it starts out pretty simple. Keiji roams around and engages bandits and other bad people. It’s a bit of a bad guy of the week story at times. But Keiji is eccentric, so there are plenty of other interesting developments as well. About half-way through the story begins to have arcs of 20+ chapters. I think my favorite is when he travels out of Japan and encounters Spanish and Chinese people, among others. Keiji has a revolving cast of support characters that follow him. There are a couple of characters that follow him for the majority of the book though. These characters are also quite unique and have their own charm.
Keiji is a bit of a perfect character since he often outshines and embarrasses his opponents and attracts so many women. But that’s not always the case and it is fun to see how his eccentric ways play out. Read some and see how you like it. And if you know some Japanese, try your hand at reading all of it.
Such an underrated manga. To be honest, I'm not actually fond of samurais or even knew anything about the Warring Kingdoms era (Sengoku era) in Japan. However, this manga actually taught me many things about how the Sengoku Era in Japan was, plus, it has good comedy and manliness!
The story focuses on the life of the legendary Maeda Keiji, our main protagonist. He's a tall, handsome and muscular man with a carefreeing and sometimes childish attitude. However, he is a respected warrior as his strength and mastery in swordsmanship is unequaled. This is the story about the Sengoku Period where factions from all
over Japan enter in combat to claim their lands, notably the confrontation between the troops of Oda Nobunaga and Toyotomi Hideyoshi to claim the right to become the Supreme Shogun. The tale of Keiji is how he lived during this confrontation era. The story goes from drama to comedy, action to manly tears, all you can expect in MANLINESS!
Its illustration and art are familiar, right? It looks like Fist of The North Star for some reason? You've guessed it! Its art was designed by the same artist as FOTNS, the one and only Tetsuo Hara. That being said, you can expect some quality desgins for every character you can expect. Maeda Keiji's design, is an exact replica of Kenshiro. I'd like to call it "Samurai Kenshiro". He's got a giant horse that only him is suitable to ride, just like on FOTNS Kokuoh is a massive horse that only Raoh is suitable and worthy to ride him (yes Kenshiro became his owner after Raoh's death). Sukemon, Keiji's friend, looks exactly like Rei. So basically it's like reading FOTNS but in the Warring Kingdoms era setting, instead of the Post-Apocalyptic era found in Fist.
Actually there are a lot of mangas and animes based on the Warring Kingdoms era (Vagabond, Kenshin, etc) but I think everyone should give this manga a go. Imagine how Kenshiro with FOTNS took a personality change and became a samurai, and then you got Keiji!
However, the whole manga still hasn't got an english release, only fan scanlations you can find on the internet and they're still not finished scanning the whole manga yet. This review is only until the last english translated part I've read.