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Translations: Gintama 507 (2)
As this is the only current project I'm working on, it gets to be my next review
Title: History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi (Shijō Saikyō no Deshi Kenichi)
Genres: Shonen, Martial Arts, Action, Ecchi (Mild)
Author/Artist: Syun Matsuena
Publication: Shonen Sunday
Start Date: August 2002
End Date: On-going
Number of chapters at review: 270
Number of chapters read by reviewer: 98 (260 from chapter summaries/raws)
General Overview: Shirahama Kenichi is a guy given the name "Weak Legs" by his classmates because of his inability to succeed at anything. However, one day, a beautiful transfer student inspires him to go all out in an attempt to become stronger. In order to do this, he gives himself over to a collection of some of the strongest living martial artists. In spite of his lack of talent, they are determined to make him into history's strongest disciple, unless their training kills him first!
The artist draws mostly in a realistic style, although he is very fond of using the "super-deformed" look for comedic purposes. Aside from the first couple pages of every chapter, which are always exquisitely detailed, the detail level is medium. Proportions and anatomy are well done, however, and research into the real martial arts forms has obviously been done.
The plot starts out fairly simple, and only grows much later into the manga. There are several well-done twists along the way, making for a fairly interesting read. However, the plot relies more on its execution than originality. The humor writing on the other hand, is very well done, and makes up for when it sometimes falters in the serious sections.
I do really enjoy the cast of this manga, Kenichi's development is well done, and feels very natural. The main supporting characters and villains also undergo some serious development, gradually deepening into three-dimensional, dynamic characters. Even the relatively static characters like the masters, are well written and enjoyable. Overall, I think this category is probably the manga's strongest appeal.
"When I see something wrong, I want to say it's wrong. But unless I have the strength, I can't do anything." I admit I have a weakness for the main theme of Kenichi, since it's very similar to my own life-view. It's a very typical theme, but it is very well executed here. Of course, the other typical themes of shonen make their appearance, but they are all subordinate to the main theme.
Aside from a few side characters, there's hardly anything new in Kenichi. As I said previously, it relies more on clever execution than originality.
In spite of it's weaknesses, Kenichi really is an entertaining series. If you like shonen martial arts mangas at all, I would suggest picking it up and at least giving it a try.
Feel like discussing some Kenichi? Go here:
Kenichi Discussion Thread
Last edited by Mooncrow; January 03, 2008 at 04:08 PM.
Has anyone noticed that there are two different versions of kenichi manga out there?
There's one thats already finished, and is really different from the anime (shigure is almost non-existent in this version, for instance.):
http://comic.duowan.com/viewcartoon-cid-78.html (sorry its in traditional chinese)
I suppose you guys have already seen the other one.
I am kind of confused, I mentioned on another thread that the anime was farther than the manga. The anime has been completed and yet the latest manga release on the sites I visiit are still far behind (onemanga.com)? Am I visiting the wrong sites for this particular manga?
I would appreciate it if someone knows where to read the latest HSD manga. Thanks
the current scanslations release is ch 95, the anime ends at ch 143. So basically, yeah, the anime is pretty far ahead.
meh... I disagree with most of what you said.
I look forward to your full review of the series then, daddain. Constructive criticism is always welcome.
i wonder Raws will still going .. i know there is scanation ... HSDK anime is finsih season 1 but manga still going mean it will be season 2 ... becasue last esp said "Darkness begin move .." i am read manga in online
what is lastest raw chapter ??
unless not allowed disscused about manga or am i wrong to disscus ??
Chapter 296 was just published this week in Shonen Sunday.
Nobody knows if there will be a second season, or even if it's in negotiation.
Great review and thanks for posting the approximate ending place of the anime Mooncrow.
I watched the anime and was left wanting more. Upon seeing the scanlation of the series start to really speed up(up to chapter 230+ in what seems like a flash) i decided to read it.
It really picks up seamlessly from the anime. For any other fans of the anime i highly recommend giving this a read. The art, comedy, and action are all the same. It's pretty much the same experience just not animated.
I wholly agree with your review, and I really enjoy this series! And you're right, the characters drive the whole thing. My favorite character is Hermit (6th Fist), though I enjoy them all. I'm really happy that the later chapters are being scanlated so quickly!
my friend got me into this sieries and i am happy he did, the charactors are awsome.
I agree with almost everything that has been said. To sum it all up:
This manga is the most stereotypical, cliche, predictable shonen ever made. Thing is, it executes that formula extremely well. So it's the best rendition ever of an absolute stock tried-and-true no variations model.
Basically, if you're absolutely sick of the standard shonen and want to see something new, intriguing, and different, this is the absolute worst manga for you. Also, if you're a big fan of shonen and it hasn't gotten old yet at all, odds are you'll really enjoy this. The pacing's excellent and many chapters have accumulated, so you'll have a LOT of story to enjoy.
There is, however, one point on which I have to differ with this reviewer: the theme. I won't deny that the most standard shonen theme (I need strength to stand up for what I believe in) is here in force. BUT there's a far more prevalent, distinct, laudable, and (disturbingly) original theme that serves as the foundation of this manga.
In most shonen, there's this subtle (or sometimes blatant) undertone that you have to be a prodigy to make it and prodigies have it made. Basically, people are predesignated winners or losers based on their genetics. Think about it. Look at pretty much EVERY OTHER SHONEN out there. Take DBZ, for example. How many people who actually matter at the end of the show are human? How many saiyans are insignificant weaklings? Take the same for Naruto with tailed beasts. Even if a character doesn't have some superhuman fuel source, they have to be prodigies to succeed. Another Naruto example: Rock Lee. I know he's called the genius of hard work and all and set up to be badass, but...how often does he actually succeed at ANYTHING? 666 Satan is just cringeworthy in this regard. Bleach, Hunter x Hunter (toned down, but still very present), etc... One Piece is probably the manga I respect the most, and this theme is still somewhat present. And if your shonen of choice hasn't yet revealed this to be the world order (that only the supertalented/genetic lottery pool winners amount to anything), well...it's probably going to be a big plot twist. Oh, you thought your protagonist was an ordinary guy who made it just like any other other Joe all this time? Guess what?!?!? He's SUPER and chosen by destiny!!
This rather appalling message isn't just restricted to manga; it's prevalent in just about every bit of fiction you read, from fantasy to period-piece-romance-novels. When's the last time Jane Austen wrote a normal person in the leading role? EVERY person we're ever told to care about...is gentry. Major kudos to Dickens in this field--he's one of the few authors who employs characters that might be you. Unless YOU are a count/gentleman/lord, in which case you actually have been chosen by genetics/luck and could lead in many of these stories, well... Actually, scratch that about Dickens. The big plot mechanic thingie is often that said ordinary poor deserving character gets very lucky and turns out to be the sole heir to a huge fortune...or gets very lucky and wins the finance lottery, turning their life around.
As you can tell, this is terrible message to be sending out. I know we shouldn't define our world perceptions by the fiction we read, but still...it's SO widespread in society that this message just sort of sinks in. I know plenty of people who seem content to amount to nothing because they weren't born hawt/brilliant/ultra-athletic/uber-rich or sommat. Likewise, I know many people who were born with a REALLY nice package who just...sit around waiting for life to gift-wrap them a future. Maybe if they stagnate long enough, it'll deliver. We all have our own definitions of growing up, but I'd have to say that getting over this notion is a major step; we grow up when we discover that we are what we make ourselves and that our innate talents are only boosts that we can capitalize on. Once again, we shouldn't take our cues in life from fiction, but why reinforce these VERY faulty perceptions? Moreover, why have virtually every story based on this way-of-the-world theme that isn't valid at all and's just a major downer.
History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi (HSDK from now on) is an absolute breath of fresh air in that it actually boasts a sub-par protagonist. The kid is exaggeratedly unathletic and of unremarkable intelligence. The only thing he really excels at is...gardening. Yeah. Oh, and he's a kind kid of strong morals who wants good to be done. Note the passive tense; he can't actually do it himself. Furthermore, he's almost plain compared to his peers. This kid has about NOTHING going for him. All of a sudden, Kenichi decides that he's had enough of being impotent and wants to matter. Really wants. REALLY REALLY hard. As evidenced by the nonstop training from hell that he continues for...the rest of the series. Throughout this manga, Kenichi's masteres repeatedly comment on how talentless he is. When they look at his opponents, they loudly brag about how much they could have done with a potential like that and jokingly bemoan that they're stuck with a zero-aptitude disciple.
The rest of the manga consists of Kenichi wanting it REALLY REALLY badly and training REALLY REALLY hard in order to beat down all the people who actually DO have talent. He faces down waves and waves of prodigies, geniuses, and bloody monsters. And guess what? He wins. The talentless Kenichi completely ignores his genetic lottery card and standard-shonen-standing to pull himself towards the top. The "geniuses" crumble because they rely too much on raw talent, they're no match for his unparalleled effort, or they're just unlucky. Life's like that sometimes.
At one point, the gentle-giant-fool-sage of the series says something like...(heavily paraphrased) "At 10, you can be a super-prodigy. At 15, you'll be a talented individual. At 20, you're just a guy trying to make it like the rest of them."
Another paraphrase, this one from a hardworking martial artist who is VERY talented. "You were born with far more natural potential than I...and one unit genius may beat 100 units of hard work. But what if I put in 1000 units of hard work? What if I put in 10,000? 100,000?"
Last bit of paraphrasing, I swear. The masters, replying to Kenichi's concerns that he'll never amount to anything with his negative talent, say something like: "Anyone could be born a prodigy and yet amount to nothing. Determination is FAR more important than talent could ever be." They also go on to say that any very talented person who works extremely hard can become LUDICROUSLY RIDICULOUS, but that's not the issue...
So yes, as you can tell, the standard themes of kindness, friendship, standing up for what you believe in, and gaining power to defend your beliefs...those are all here in force. But the importance of work over potential is THE foundation of the manga. As sad as it is, the manga is prettttyyyy much unique amongst shonen for promoting that message. And THAT, my friends, is why I'd have to rate themes as a solid TEN and boost the series itself up a point or two. Because it actually has a meaningful message and purpose.
Last edited by Shinichiro; April 18, 2009 at 11:15 PM.
Title: History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi
Genres: Action, Comedy, Ecchi, Martial Arts, Shounen
Author: Matsuena, Syun
Artist: Matsuena, Syun
Publication: Shounen Sunday
Start Date: August 9, 2002
End Date: Ongoing
Number of chapters at review: 449
Number of chapters read by reviewer: 449
Shirahama Kenichi is a weak, 24/7-bullied, unpopular boy, who just transferred to high school. His only friend is an alien-lookalike with sharp ears and an antenna on top of his head, which he uses to receive signals from outer space. However his entire life drastically changes after he meets a mysterious girl named Miu. One day, on his way from school he sees her being attacked by a group of gangsters. He instantly rushes towards her to help her out, but halfway he remembers a little fact. He is weak. However, what’s done is done. The boss of the gangster gets ready to send Kenichi flying, and our MC already closes his eyes, but there it happens. Or to be more precise, it doesn’t happen. The boss isn’t beating Kenichi. What’s more, Miu is beating the life out of the boss and all his followers. After making short talk with those guys, she thanks Kenichi for helping her out. Speechless, he just stares at her, cursing himself that he couldn’t do a thing and if he only knew material arts he could’ve helped her and, and, and … Miu asks him whether he wants to learn about material arts! Will Kenichi accept her offer and who is this mysterious girl, who can singlehandedly defeated a group of gangsters? Read HSDK to find out
Category Ratings: (1-10 scale)
If I were to describe the art using only a single word (like in those Pokemon™ games, where those dang reporters ask you what you think of a battle >_<) I’d say “Standard”. Especially around the first 100-150 chapters. Matsuena’s style is nothing out of the ordinary. It’s just plain normal. It has something of a “Soul Eater-ish” feeling, though. And that’s one of the reasons why HSDK is a little hard to read at the beginning. Matsuena puts more effort into the plot, then the art. He doesn’t use those thin lines you see in Bakuman/DN, he doesn’t use all those screen tones you see in Air Gear, he doesn’t create those facial expressions you can see in Slam Dunk, but that’s not necessary. He has a basic understanding of to draw his manga and with time passing he evolves it form a basic to an advanced one. There is however one exception, when his “standard” way of drawing becomes awesome-class. And that is close-up double spreads. They. Are. Just. Awesome.
Lately, I’ve been getting the feeling that all Shounen manga have the same plot. They have some specifics, but in the end they are the same. And as a result… I stopped enjoying reading manga. I thought… Oh my god, what now?! And then I read HSDK. Like I mentioned before, it is a little hard to read at the beginning, and this standard Shounen feeling was killing me, but then, after some 150 chapters, I suddenly felt like I started enjoying it again. Even though nothing really changed. I asked myself “why?”, and the answer was… SCREW THIS THING. I LIKE THE PLOT!! Yes, that’s right. There is nothing extraordinary, the outcome of the fights are always pretty much obvious, and plot twists aren’t this manga strong points either. However I like it. And you’ll like it as well. Because Matsuena manages to write a standard Shounen story in such a way, where it will seem interesting. It’s the small details. The location of the fights, the way the antagonists think, their behavior, it’s these small details, that allowed HSDK to reach nearly 450 chapters and the end is not even closely visible.
I’ll get this straight. At the beginning I had a strong feeling, that the cast was overfilled. WAY too many characters. On top of that it’s not even clear whether they’re a 3rd rate supporting character or a main character of Kenichi’s level. However with time passing Matsuena will focus on every character, which really needs attention and after a certain amount of time, this feeling will disappear. And just like this feeling disappeared, another one will appear instead. A feeling that you’ve fallen in love with these characters. So well written, you can’t help but sympathize with them. HSDK features some of the best written and developed characters in the entire manga industry.
Everything about Martial Arts. Their history, their meaning, the different styles and techniques. The philosophy about using force to defend yourself/attack an opponent. I thought about adding “Hard work can surpass genius” here, but I kinda feel like this aspect is featured in so many mainstream battle manga that there’s no need to. Just remember that this as a Shounen manga, and you’ll understand what this manga is about.
Fighting Manga are all over the place. I could count them without break for a week. However there are still a few things that make HSDK different form the other mainstream battle manga. The first would be the power-levels. In almost every other manga the Main Character is the strongest in their respective universe. However in HSDK there are two types of fighters. Disciples and Masters. With Masters being quadrillion times stronger than Disciples it obviously affects the plot. Meaning Kenichi is the Main Character, but he isn’t the strongest character in the entire HSDK-universe. Also, a manga, where you don’t see those billions of “OH MAI GAWHD, NAKAMA-POWAH… NEW FINAL FINISH TECHNIQUE… RAAAWR”, but traditional hand-to-hand fighting is becoming more of a rarity these days. >_>
My opinion of this manga grew better and better with the time. If at the beginning I was ready to give it as little as a “5”, I have no doubt that it deserves an “8” now. All you have to do is bring yourself to read the first few arcs, and once you manage that you’ll be able to enjoy HSDK to its fullest. The feeling of the overcrowded cast will fade away, Matsuena’s art will become better and better, you’ll actually start understanding the differences between those fighting styles, like ju-juitsu, chinese kempo, muay thai, and standard karate. Add to that Matsuena’s superb sense of humor, and HSDK will become one of your favorites very easy.