The story revolves around Ken, a man from an upper-class family that was orphaned young due to his family's involvement with the Yakuza; he became a high school delinquent known for fighting. The only thing that motivates him to take action is through his romantic affections for a classmate, Yumi. After learning she decided to move to Korea to become a police officer, Ken leaves his life in Japan behind and tries to follow in Yumi's footsteps; due to unforeseen circumstances, he incidentally becomes the head of a local gang and tries to hide it from Yumi. As the leader, the gang is renamed the Sun-Ken Rock Group.
Volume 12: Trigun: The Lost Plant
I am not sure why this has such a high rating, so I want to give a warning to like-minded readers – don’t bother with Sun-Ken Rock, if you’re looking for a good story. The only thing this manga has going for it is art, and the writing is extremely cringeworthy.
You’ve read the synopsis? And now add “and then they dance”, because that’s what happens when the main character joins mafia, cause dancing is great, right? They dance for 7 panels on two pages. This is also a gag manga somehow, and what’s the worst is that it’s not humor added to a good plot,
but gags replacing some important plotpoints and warping motivations.
You think you’ll see the hero rise to the top from the slums, building his muscle and personality? Forget it, he becomes the boss by chance, just because a teen loser is so awesome, I guess (he is a NEET loser at that moment allright). You think you’ll see how his love trains to become a cop? Nah, she is just there and oh-so-hot in her uniform.
Yeah, there’re some ideas, that wouldn’t be out of place in a serious criminal drama, like comparing a state to a gang or the stand for you subordinates and they’ll stand for you thing, but the poor overall quality of writing drowns what little good there is. Yeah, there’re potentially interesting topics - politics, nationality, revenge, forgiveness, etc. – but they are treated with all the grace of a story, written by a 12-14 year old boy. The moral dilemma of being a part of the underworld is replaced by the idea of following one’s heart and nakamas – the shounen motivation set A. The main hero fights for his friends and justice and somehow gains property. There’s also a tendency to include trivia and ethnographic info in the form of direct exposition, like, for example, in one of the early chapters the protagonist punishes MMO-money speculators and reads them a lecture on Korean gaming industry, because this is a manga about gang warfare, I suppose.
I honestly wanted to read more of the story to feel more secure about condemning it, but it’s physiologically painful (I probed in the later chapters, the same effect).
The art is good, as I’ve mentioned. For it and only for it this manga gets a 4.
The emphasis is on showing the badass characters’ designs, and the author can draw bodies (especially male) magnificently. But the art also jerks uncomfortably between amazing panels with characters looking like older people from a better story and chibies or cartoon exaggeration. I must also add, that design-wise the main character seem to be the best thing there is, so you kind of saw it all on the cover. Maybe the protagonists’s right-hand man is somewhere close with his gothic-flawored prettiness (no wonder, since he is rivalish), but flipping through the additional couple of dozens of chapters doesn’t reveal other characters, that are comparably memorable.
There’re nice scenery shots, sometimes even cinematographic.
The manga has severe problem with female characters however. And no, I don’t try to push the femi angle here, I understand what the genre demands, but creepy is creepy. The female cast is drawn with exaggeratedly “pretty” features and a particular kind of beauty in mind (seems legit Korean, btw - see, I give praise where it’s due), which results in lush bodies and baby faces with pouty lips and eyes straight off a gray alien. They also all look very similar. For me alien girls broke additional straws of immersion. The level of sexualization is total, a normal shot for a heroine being a close-up of her butt in sexy lingerie. Boichi sure loves drawing ass, so you see female characters’ panties as often as their faces. The girls act kind of strange personality-wise too (“I train my body, because someday it may please someone” – …well, ok). Sex, rape and weird sexual stuff happen in abundance.
And then there is action. Action in bad context doesn’t work for me, and battle logic here allows shounen power-ups, like being able to fight with broken arms, because of trueness to one’s heart, indignation or wish to save someone, but, I guess, the often spectacular fighting may still be a plus for some readers. Here my judgement is neutral, yet I honestly think that you can get more engaging fights in a number of better series.
All in all I do not recommend Sun-Ken Rock. I don’t want to start a flame war or diminish tastes, but I honesty was let down by this manga as I rarely have been before in this medium.
I grant that it may work for some readers, it can be used as a source of powerful panels and, probably, as a gold mine for ass-shots, if this particular shape suits your fetish, maybe, and I am very unsure here, as a source on some info on Korea – but I hardly see this manga holding water as a proper story in the eyes of an older, more experienced reader. If you look for a good criminal drama, a good story or a proper seinen, don’t be fooled by the good art, avoid!
You got to be crazy not to enjoy Sun-Ken Rock or a child or even just a parent who doesn't like explicit things. This is by far in my top five of my favorite mangas and only the purest of eyes should be able to read Sun-Ken Rock if it was up to me,but luckily for you its not the story was magnificent I had to have read every single chapter in a 2 day span of time because of my infatuation with the plot. The art was so focused and centered but still so different that I was happy to use some styles even
in my own drawings. Seinen will always be my favorite though and I will always hold the upmost biased opinion about every Seinen manga but trust me if this was truly bad I wouldn't even waste my time reading it in the first place. If you're looking for a great read and ran out of interesting manga you gotta read this for sure.
**Might contain some spoilers, but I have tried to be discreet about it!**
Even though this series is not completed yet, I felt that writing a review for this w̶a̶s̶t̶e̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶t̶i̶m̶e̶ manhwa was necessary when I noticed the ratings in the 8-10 spectrum (!!?). Don't let the art fool you; this is a shallow, unoriginal, tasteless mess.
☆ Here goes ☆
Ken follows his high school crush Yumin from Japan to Korea (wut) where she starts working as a police officer. Ken on the other hand becomes a gang-boss and as the story progresses he works himself through the gritty world of organized crime, while staying
childishly infatuated with Yumin.
The outset of the story isn't that bad. It's simple and could have acted a solid foundation for a pretty exciting story. It fails miserably when it comes to execution though, and because of the non-existent depth in character portrayal the story falls completely flat.
The story is quick-paced and consists of different extremely repetitive arcs. 1 Ken acs silly (insert jokes and ecchi). 2 A generic Yumin clone gets raped and/or beaten. 3 Ken gets angry and gathers the gang. 4 Fight commences. Even the fights get boring (!!) with predictable turns during the 'mini boss-fights' before the 'final boss'. These arcs and fights are so predictable that they even had me (a hardened shounen enthusiast) bored and unfocused.
Because the story is so quick-paced it also feels as if most of it happens behind the scenes or not at all. There are big jumps and the impact of the exploits of Ken and his gang is not felt to the degree that it should. I presume that this is because the focus is on Ken and his path towards sex with Yumin rather than the actual gang-related plot. Even so, it's like you keep expecting the real story to start or get intense, but it never happens and everything stays incredibly shallow even up to date.
The amount of large themes introduced as potential main story points but then not explored enough are many. For example the concept of the state, the history of South Korea, immigration and xenophobia just to name a few. It's a bit sad that that these interesting themes were pushed aside to make space for naked women.
☆ 5 out of 10 ☆
The art is beautiful. Really, the environments and the (male) characters are drawn in great detail and variety. The fight-scenes are well drawn and the facial expressions and movement of the characters are great. The extra chapters where Boichi explains the inspiration behind certain elements are interesting and can be felt afterwards in the sceneries and portrayal of Korea.
The women however, only appear is two varieties: Yumin clones and childlike Kae-Lyn clones that give you pedophile vibes. Neither is very well drawn with strange poses and weird proportions/anatomy. They are often drawn in the same poses with no body variety at all. There is also no shading in their faces to show any difference between the characters' features (whereas the male characters have this).
As good as the art may be at times it still feels like trash in a nice package. Even so, standalone the art deserves an 8 for the male character portrayal, fights, facial expressions and sceneries.
☆ 8 out of 10 ☆
Ken had my expectations up because he had inherited Shou from Akumetsu's eyebrows lol.
No but I thought he would be more interesting then he was at least. He's basically as cliché as cliché protagonists get; the humble kind man who gets badass and strong in serious situation. You supposedly think he gets some character development a bit into the story but he then reverts back to his original self with no explanations, so that's that.
The saddest character in the series is the female 'lead' Yumin. She has no personality to speak of. I think there is meant to be some tension regarding the protagonist struggle to hide his identity from her, but she's so bleak that you sometimes forget her existence. She is basically a blank canvas for the author to express his sad sexual fantasies and uniform kink (much like the entire series).
Aside from becoming more manly, almost any form of character development is a transparent attempt to fool the reader into thinking that this series is actually capable of plot twists. (rest assure, it isn't)
Even at the supposed emotional climax of the story, it still feels as if you hardly know or care about the characters at all.
☆ 3 out of 10 ☆
I may be harsh but it's hard to enjoy something when its main purpose entails creating different scenarios in which to draw women being abused sexually is as many ways possible, annnd good 'ol brawl. Especially when you're only there for one of the two (hint: it's the last one), and that one is executed poorly.
Even any slightly successful joke gets unfunny when you're reminded of the sexism. This series has women coerced into sex (perpetrator is later forgiven), rape as torture, fathers wanting to rape their own daughters, under aged women getting raped and much much more. Not even addressing the fight-scenes ruined by the ridiculous nudity, it objectifies the female characters to the point where it's annoying even if you're normally ok with ecchi.
It's basically so incredibly sexist that the escapism value disappears completely. There is no dignity for any female character in this story. None at all. Not even through the art quality.
☆ 3 out of 10 ☆
Read it because - The art is great, it has interesting facts about South Korea and its culture/history, lots of fights, a funny Italian character and Ken's eyebrows.
Don't read it because - The shallow story, nonexistent character development, shitty female characters (also sometimes badly drawn), annoying amount of ecchi, sexism, anticlimax, boring fights and repetitiveness.
If this series was a hentai I wouldn't have bothered with this review, but the fact that it tries not to be is what makes it so bad.
May contain minor spoilers for initial 2-3 chapters.
On a side-note, my first review on MAL.
STORY: Kitano Ken's crush Yoshizawa Yumin, moves to Korea to become a police officer. Following her, Ken moves to Korea as well. However, he is a failure. He meets Park Tae-Soo, leader of a local gang. Tae-Soo tries to convince Ken to become their boss. Ken agrees on something really ridiculous. (Salary what?). So basically, a failure rises from the bottom of scum to the top of the country. So, in my opinion, story is a 9/10.
ART: Each strip of the manga perfectly switches from sadism to beauty to fanservice as
per the requirement. I don't have any more words. 10/10.
CHARACTERS: Character development, again is a strong point of Sun-Ken Rock!. The euphoria of reading how everyone comes to respect Boss Ken is just something you cannot forget. 9/10.
ENJOYMENT: I started reading Akumetsu. I started reading Berserk. I started reading Vagabond. All of them had one thing in similar. I felt sleepy after one or two chapters. However, for Sun-Ken Rock!, I even forgot to have any food for an entire day. It's got action, it's got badassery, it's got comedy, it's got Japanese/Korean Cooking Tutorials and it's got Kitano Ken. Ken is one of the best characters I ever came across. Badass when required, normie when not. 10/10.
OVERALL: Favorite manga. Never read something as good as this. Just love it. Read it already if you haven't already. Sun-Ken Rock! is gonna give you thousands of goosebumps, so consider warned. 9.5/10.
A memorable quote:
"Yes, the King is back.. On his throne.. And ruling over the lowlands of this country once more!" ~Kim Kae-Lyn, Sun-Ken Rock!.