Status in Japan: 13 volumes (ongoing)
Dae's Status: 11 volumes
LAST PAGE UPDATE: 07JAN14
This series is still running in Japan, so consider this page still under construction :3 !
is a wonderful sport comic dedicated to MMA by the majestic Hiroki Endou, author of another of my most favourite manga ever, the Sci-Fi series Eden
There are TONES of Japanese series dedicated to sports and more or less legittimate fighting styles, I could cite a tons starting from Ashita no Joe
or Tiger Mask
and ending it with Grappler Baki
, passing throught the awesomeness of Hajime no Ippo
But these series have all a tiny bothering flaw (well, in the most of cases that's not a flaw but their actual strong point, expecially for Grappler Baki
), the utter lack of realism.
I'm not just talking about the superhuman strenght of the protagonists, but also their everyday life, their relationships with others.
is a huge development in this sense.
Not only the protagonist is an "average" boy who starts a sport out of boredom as a way to spend his freetime, but the world around him, his family, friends, schoolmates or gym's friends are portrayed realistically, as the title of the manga suggests, "all-round"
But before talking about the story, a quick glance over the main characters:
Meguru, as you can tell from the title of the manga, is the protagonist of this story.
His first attempt at sport was when he was still in elementary school. His father forced him to join a tiny karate dojo in a tiny village of Tohoku, where he lived for a bit before transferring to Tokyo due to his father's job.
During his High School days he decided to join a gym and practice shooto
to keep himself busy.
Half-assed and demotivated in everything, he starts taking his training seriously once he faces two defeats in some little tournaments that he was forced to attend by his gym trainers and once he got "inspired" by his opponents and friends.
Takashi is a childhood friend of Meguru. They used to attend the same elementary school and karate dojo back when they were kids. The dojo where Takashi and Meguru practiced belonged to Takashi's grandfather.
Contrary to Meguru, Takashi's life has been pin-pointed by drama and tragedy. Deserted by both his parents, his father a good-for-nothing yakuza, he got to live with his square-minded grandfather before being led astray by the former boss of his father.
Unable to accept defeat and grown under the serious lead of his grandfather, who made sure to teach him the philosphy behind karate and not just to kick asses, he lives as a shadowy character, his life mixed with sport and violence of the yakuza world.
He got to meet Meguru after years, as his first opponent in their first match. Still irritated by Meguru's half-assed behaviour and aware of the different worlds they live in, he refuses to acknowledge their former friendship.
Yudai is one of the gymmates of Meguru; they are the same age, but Yudai is way more motivated and stoic that our protagonist, thus he tends to underestimate and criticize him.
Meguru starts to "rival" him pissed by Yudai's almighty behaviour, and you can say that Yudai is Meguru's first step into a more serious training.
Yudai was actually a judoka
, admiring his older brother Saidai
, an extraordinary athlete, from afar. Unfortunately Saidai heavily injuried an opponent during an unofficial match, forcing him to leave the world of judo. The bad name of Saidai reached Yudai, who trained in the same club, and forced him to retire from judo after a fight against a third year who badmouthed his bro and harassed him. Even since this episode, Yudai decided to start shooto
as a way to get a name for himself and find his dimension, so to prove wrong all those who made his life a hell for no reason.
Maki is the tall gymmate of Meguru and Yudai, a loudmouthed and proud girl who practices kickboxing, but "swayed" into shooto
by one of the trainer of the gym, Maria
She's quite strong and determined and she's used to harass both Yudai and Meguru (expecially Meguru) for their lack of skills when it comes to kicks.
Maki is a stunning kickboxer, but because of her body type she can't find worthy opponents anymore, so Maria arranged some MMA matches for the girl, so to let her explore her fighting possibilities. As she met worthy opponents and enjoyed the training with her new friends, she starts to practice shooto
with more motivation.
After a match she'll develop a friendship with one of her former opponents, the judoka Kaoru
, and will bring along her schoolmate Momoko
, who practices jujitsu and attended the same middle-school as Yudai (for everyone's rage, LOL).
Of course these profiles are just tiny bits to give you an idea, there are a tones of more characters, including other gymmates, schoolmates and family members...
As I said, this is the strongest point of this manga: the characters' life is not focused on matches or random love stories to pretend that characters have feelings, each character has his own life, circumstances and "pasts" that enrich as the storytelling as the characterization.
Another strong point of this series is its realism and "everyday" feeling, which is extraordinarily expressed during the training of the characters: also if the most of the chapters are focused on matches, in fact, lots is dedicated to training too, and it's during training that the characters develop their relationships, not only during matches.
But of course this realism is expressed also during the fights themselves: punches, locks and kicks that look exactly how they should "feel": wounds, bruises, people passing out after a nice punch on the chin, an effective lock or struggling during a catch-- Whoever practiced some martial arts can get such feelings transpiring
It's impressive how Endou manages to describe his action scenes so effectively: the art is stunning, sharp and dynamic without exagerations, and the pacing of the fights is completely spot on: if you're a bit familiar about drawing action scenes you may know how difficult is to render them effectively-- Endou's art is so good that one could use his fights as a "manual" to train on certain moves..!
In conclusion, to give you some examples, hoping that you're familiar with them (and if you're not just google them XD), when I read Karate Koushoushi Kohinata Minoru
I'm amused by the art, when I read Grappler Baki
I'm amused by the absurdity, when I read Worst
I'm amused by the hot-blooded stuff, and when I read Meguru
, well, I catch a breath of fresh air :3
And this is all. I hope that these few words of mine managed to get you interested in the series :3