Since the Edo periods of Japan, gladiator arenas exist in certain areas. In these arenas, wealthy business owners and merchants hire gladiators to fight in unarmed combat where winner takes all. Toki Taouma, nicknamed "Ashura", joins these arenas and devastates his opponents. His spectacular ability to crush his enemies catches the attention of the big business owners, including the Nogi Group chairman, Nogi Hideki.
It's pretty cool to be the first to review this manga. Just as much as it is surprising, as I think Kengan Ashura is probably the best fighting manga out there at the moment.
The basic plot of the Manga revolves around the idea that companies from around the world champion street fighters to compete gladiator style on their bosses behalf to win business opportunities or property in Japan, which is a pretty interesting concept.
But, plot aside (because, let's face it, this is an action manga) the fighting itself is great! Every character has their own unique fighting style which pairs well with their equally
expressive character designs, not to mention that every fight scene (which there are plenty of) is choreographed well and drawn beautifully.
Super cool, would recommend to any fan of the genre.
It is extremely surprising to me to find so few reviews on here for Kengan Ashura. Besides myself, there is only 1 other review here on this page.
Anyhow, the manga itself is absolutely a masterpiece. It is able to convey everything that it wants to without feeling too forced and is able to introduce significant character depth within only a chapter. There isn't a single character within Kengan Ashura that I haven't grown attached to in some way, and, unlike most other manga, I actually don't mind when the main protagonist isn't the center of the world. The art in the series has honestly some
of the highest quality panels I have ever seen, and, while not the absolute best, are still quite breath taking.
But, the main reason this series is so amazing is the fighting. Each and every fighter, even if they use the same martial art, seemingly have their own distinct fighting styles that go in line with their personalities and designs. (The manga is also able to explain the mechanics of their fighting styles and allows the reader to have a greater understanding, while minor, of how their abilities work.) There also seems to be something along the lines of supernatural involvement from time to time, where certain characters briefly enter a transformation and completely change their eye, hair, and skin color. Oddly enough, though, it doesn't really stick out and just feels like another part of the story.
If anyone is interested in a darker shounen fighting manga, this manga is the greatest thing you can give to them.
[Also, about two years ago there was a confirmed upcoming anime adaptation, but I haven’t heard any news since. If anyone knows anything, please tell me.]
Yamashita Kazuo, a middle-aged man leading a boring life, once stumbled upon a street fight in a dark alley. He meets there a certain individual, who after a quick exchange of punches easily defeats his opponent. Kazuo didn’t realize that he just met a man, who would change his life forever. That man was Tokita Ouma - a fighter, who just signed up as a participant in Kengan tournaments - big scale events, where martial artists from all over the world beat the living shit of each other, and Yamashita Kazuo just became his manager.
When it comes to the plot, this manga doesn’t have
much to offer, it’s just a one big TOURNAMENT ARC!!! and the things that matter the most are the constant fistfights. These tournaments are a true goldmine for gamblers since betting on a fighter, believed to win, is a commonplace and huge amounts of money are being thrown around all the time. Each contestant is a representative of a company, for which their manager works, and relationships between certain companies are often used as an emotional background to give battles some weight. These fights are 1vs1 duels, and because usage of any weapons is prohibited, it makes a great opportunity to show off many different styles of fighting. Karate, Judo, Sumo, Wrestling, you’ll find here every martial art under the sun, and even more, because the author certainly doesn’t lack creativity, and he does an excelent job at making every duel feel fresh. Every bout is drastically different from the previous one, but they all share one feature - they are all unbelievably brutal. Here the amazing artstyle comes to play. Everything is drawn with massive amount of detail, so that you can very easily feel the impact of each blow and its consequences. Each contender is an absolute monster, so scenes showing body parts being completely demolished after taking one punch aren’t a rarity. With some scenes it’s easy to tell that the author has clearly drawn inspiration from series such as for example Grappler Baki. It’s also worth mentioning that in spite of such variety in characters, it’s pretty hard to predict the results of most squabbles.
Characters are here pretty distinctive, everyone has an original design, and all relevant contestants have their backstory, so no one feels like they’re purposless. Our main heroes are also an interesting couple. Tokita is a typical badass MC, he doesn’t care how strong you could be, and he’ll do everything in his power to defeat you. Tokita is your new god, and he’s fresh out of mercy.
Kazuo plays a role of a comedy relief character, since he’s usually the source of all the jokes. It’s not unusual to see him accidentaly get into various dangerous situations and unwillingly makes his life a bit more intense.
To summarize, this manga isn’t an outstanding masterpiece, and it doesn’t try to become that. It’s just a mindless, but compelling story about ripped men beating each other up to the point of unconsiousness, and even more. I reccomend this series especially to people that like ceaseless action, martial arts, and brutal battles with their usage. If that sounds like your type of story, then you’ll feel like a fish in the sea :>