Feb 28, 2014
Po_and_Dong (All reviews)
Saikyou Densetsu Kurosawa is an outstanding manga by Nokuyuki Fukumoto of Kaiji and Akagi fame, telling a story about a man named Kurosawa and his quest to find his place in the world. Throughout its 70 something chapters it gives some of the most touching and bizarre moments, all revolving around the titular strongest man. I begin the review by saying that this Legend of the Strongest Man is one of the best manga I've ever read.

Saikyou Densetsu Kurosawa, or as its known in English as The Legend of the Strongest Man Kurosawa, tells the story of Mr. Kurosawa, a 44 year old single, overweight man who has been working the majority of his life as a construction worker. One day while feigning interest in a soccer game with coworkers, Kurosawa has an epiphany that people should be able to cheer for their own success, not just that of other people, which he finds he has been unable to do. Depressed over his underachievement throughout his life and depressed simply about being depressed, Kurosawa sets it upon himself to find his success, though he does not know exactly how to do so himself. He begins his journey by attempting to make friends with the coworkers at work, yet his forced attempts only bring about disastrously cringe worthy consequences. From there on, Kurosawa finds himself in one bizarre situation after another, all while trying to find his place in the world. While I don't want to spoil the story, I can say that Kurosawa's adventure covers everything from finding a new philosophy in life, to achieving his own personal success, to an all out war with the young punks in the area.

Saikyou Densetsu Kurosawa's story is a myriad of genres, although most notably is drama and comedy, and both affect the plot. Underneath it however is a story packed with realistic expectations and doubts, with some of the best development of its main character, Kurosawa. Kurosawa himself is fantastic, he is, unlike many protagonists, extremely stupidly normal. Kurosawa has nothing special about him at all, literally, he is overweight, not very good to look at, and has no talents or quirks about him. He is a complete anti-thesis to a myriad of other manga protagonists, for better or worse. Of course, whether or not this necessarily makes his character superior, doesn't matter because he is a fantastic character beyond that. Kurosawa's personality has no real abnormalities to it, in fact his simple desires to make friends among other things, are boring objectives! Yet his unwavering determination throughout all of the depressing circumstances drive this manga to never before seen locations. The story of Kuroawa is unique, unique because it takes things that are taken for granted not just in other manga but in real life as well, and puts them to measure. Kurosawa is a depressing character, because he is depressed himself. Depressed that he has barely any money, no success, no family. But he sets himself to change it all, and it is a fantastic quest indeed. Development of Kurosawa in this manga is of course exceptional. Character development is to put it simply, a flimsy and especially subjective standard, but Kurosawa's changes are both noticeable and real. They are very real, they feel natural to an amazing degree. Kurosawa comes to his own realizations in his life, and about his circumstances, something that becomes admirable through the manga pages themselves and into the hearts and mind of the reader. For this and among other things, he is just extremely likable, this is the first thing that comes to mind when reading his exploits. He is just fantastic, and a perfect lead to the story. There are of course, some other characters, but none of them share the same length of development as Kurosawa. Kurosawa's journey is for the most part solitary, and thus he is the star of all events one way or another. Through this great story we are able to see all the facets of his personality, and the rigors of his quest. The realism of it all, and I use this term with good measure, is very noticeable. To put it in more detail, Kurosawa takes the little things other manga may touch on, like people's place in society and zooms on it completely. It is never pretentious in the slightest, in fact it is so dramatically crazy on something so seemingly insignificant that it can be called the opposite of pretentious. Kurosawa doesn't preach, he shows his resolve through his blood and samurai spirit, his fear and emotions run through the reader. One cannot help but cheer the pitiful Kurosawa on, with his good meaning nature and admirable conclusions, he reaches a synergy with the reader and the story that many manga can only dream of, same genre or not. Kurosawa learns his lessons through vigor, and is far from perfect. If he makes a mistake and reaches a conclusion, he will make the mistake again! And yet even a third time, Kurosawa is a fool, but that is why he is fantastic. It's so difficult to express just how written the entire thing is. Beyond the story itself, there is also alot of comedy, however its not quite the goofball shenigans that the premise may at times suggest. Unlike a manga like Watamote, which Kurosawa has mutual circumstances with in the beginning, Kurosawa has conclusion to its facets. If one said that Watamote was a monster of the week type of comedy when it came to social situations, Kurosawa would be the Illiad of them. But most importantly, this does not drive the entire manga, it reaches conclusions. These conclusions are the driving part of the story, they are pivots to keep the momentum. More on the comedy though, this manga is truly hilarious. Frequently I found a smile on my face of the bizarre situations that occurred to Kurosawa, linked to a haphazard decision. There are times when you can just laugh at it, its great. It mostly comes from how likable Kurosawa is as a character, in addition to the situations he comes into. It just all works out very well. The themes of this manga frequesntly deal with place in society, something that this manga shares with Fukomoto's many gambling works. But with this theme comes real conclusiveness, an ending and meaning that is unparalleled. There is weight to this manga, it is not to be underestimated for any reason. If I hear how someone doesn't read this because of the art style, I want to kill them and flush them down the toilet, please don't let that stop you from reading this. This is a personal 10/10 and something I would recommend to any fan of any kind of genre of manga. It is a fantastic outlook on aspects of depression in life and real situations. It is hilarious, touching, and at times, tragic. The determination of this Strongest Man knows no bounds, and neither does the excellence of it's manga. I implore you to read it.