This is a project that I’ve been meaning to do for awhile now. Since I read ALOT of manga, I of course come across many series that I feel are under appreciated and do not receive the attention they deserve. One of these underdog titles is a martial arts manga by the name of Karate Shoukoushi Kohinata Minoru. After extensive research on the Japanese language, and by that I mean I just googled it, I discovered that the word “shoukoushi” translates to something close to “little lord” or “little prince”. This fits perfectly since our titular character, college gymnast Minoru Kohinata, is a fairly attractive young man who is thrust into the world of karate. He’s thrust in by a series of odd events started by karate aficionado and brutal sadist Ryuji Mutou. The story takes place at Reinan University, a college that is heavily focused on its athletics department and even more focused on the martial arts aspect of their athletics departmentOne night, when Minoru and Nana, his childhood friend/love interest, are being accosted by some of the more “rapey” guys in his gymnastics team, Ryuji witnesses this and saves Minoru but, not before knocking him out cold out of disgust for his weakness. Ryuji then, takes it upon himself to force Minoru to grow a pair and join the karate club. Other member of the karate club include Minoru’s fellow freshmen, Kentarou Hayama and Seiji Mamiya, strong and silent karate prodigy, Kengo Ibuki and, Karate Club captain/secret scumbag, Hiroki Minami.
It doesn’t take long before Minoru and his buddies run afoul of the kendo club, lead by Seiji Minami’s older brother, which brings us to not only our first training montage but, Minoru’s first major fight of the series, where he demonstrates that the flexibility he’s honed over the years as a gymnast can transfer over making him and ideal karateka. Now, if you’re one of those guys who says stuff like “There’s no way an unarmed combatant could fight a guy wielding a shinai and win” you should probably stop reading now since, bringing up the other amazing qualities of KSKM such as the later introduction of Pedro Barbosa, the gay Brazilian rapist/Jiu Jitsu practitioner or, Kasumi Saizou, the last remaining member of Reinan’s long since defunct ninjustu club will just make your head explode. Those last two statements should prove to you beyond a shadow of a doubt that this manga is worth a read.
Amidst its little pockets of absurdity, KSKM does tell a pretty solid story. A tale of a wimpy young man who becomes a rather capable karate practitioner. Through the course of the series, Minoru take on a gambit of incredible fighters from from a PCP addicted U.S. marine to an ex-movie star. Along with plenty of action, we also get a fair share of comedy. A running joke of the series is the obvious animosity that Minoru’s fellow karate club members feel towards him since he is rather popular with the ladies. Pedro is later persuaded by Minami to join the karate club with the promise that he’d get a “shot” at Minoru. Minami himself is a source of many ridiculous circumstances. From fighting a world heavyweight champion while hallucinating on mushrooms to accidentally appearing in a martial arts porn film, Minami can always find himself in crazy situations. Pair that along with Ryuji Mutou, whose fights are almost always 5-6 chapter long bouts of extreme bone-crushing brutality, and KSKM has the makings of an amazing martial arts manga.
Baba Yasushi’s storytelling is never disappointing and always fresh, which is something that is not always easy to do with a story that spans 400+ chapters. His art work is vibrant and has an amazing energy. The most noticeable aspect of his artstyle is his extreme attention to detail when it come to drawing muscular men. Anytime a character such as Ryuji is shown without a shirt, they always appear as if their physique was pulled from a bodybuilding magazine which leads me to suspicions that he may be tracing at times but, I would never accuse an artist of such a thing without proof, especially after he’s provided me with such enjoyment. I read loads of martial arts manga (I don’t know why) and I can confidently say that KSKM is one of the best I’ve ever read. It’s crazy, action packed, with a decent pace and a lot of heart. I highly recommend it to anyone and hope that anyone with the opportunity will support it.
Unfortunately, due to its length, KSKM does not have an official English release. However, the great guys at Deadbeat Scans have been doing an amazing job of scanlating this series. Go check them out.