Why Aren’t You Reading This!?: Karate Shoukoushi Kohinata Minoru by Baba Yasushi

KSKM_v01_c001_p001This 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.

KSKM_v03_c023_p046It 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.

Karate_Shoukoushi_Kohinata_Minoru_v04_c035[Deadbeat]_KSKM_v04_c035_p0654db4a070b2792

Introducing Pedro Barbosa, ladies and gentlemen.

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.

Yes, those are vibrator nunchuks. You're welcome.

Yes, those are vibrator nunchuks. You’re welcome.

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.

BEEFCAKE

BEEFCAKE!!!

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Fall 2013 Anime: Yowamushi Pedal

Yowamushi PedalWhen you look at Japanese and American anime fandom, no subject polarizes the two more than sports anime/manga. While sports manga can grow to be insanely popular in Japan, they’ve never really exploded here in the U.S., despite the efforts of Viz media. One theory for why anime and manga based on sports aren’t really popular in America is because of the stereotype that sports and nerds go together like oil and water so, to your average western anime fan, having sports, those things you hate that have left you ostracized from your peers, combined with anime, those things you love that have also left you ostracized from your peers, can lead to some pretty conflicting emotions. Never the less, this fall season brings us a number of sports-related anime. Some are new seasons for old favorite’s like, Kuroko’s Basketball and Hajime no Ippo while, others are new to the scene like, Ace of Diamond and Yowamushi Pedal.

[Commie] Yowamushi Pedal - 02 [C497539A].mkv_snapshot_10.53_[2013.10.27_13.48.55]Analysis: The basic set up for your average shonen sports anime/manga is pretty simple. You take a protagonist who has no interest in the sport the story revolves around, despite have an uncanny potential to be super good at it, a rival who eats, drinks, sleeps and, dreams said sports, a supporting cast of quirky characters and, boom, you have yourself a winner. This show has all of these qualifications fit perfectly. Our protagonist, Sakamichi Onoda is a bright-eyed and cheerful mega-nerd who uses his bicycle to trek to and from Akihabara, the anime otaku mecca located in Tokyo. However he fails to notice that his excursions to Akiba and back are well beyond the scope of what someone should be capable of doing with a bulky old bicycle commonly ridden by old housewives. Sakamichi’s soon-to-be rival, high school cycling aficionado, Shunsuke Imaizuni,  takes notice of his uncanny cycling abilities and challenges him to a race. After that, it’s only a matter of time before Sakamichi is embroiled in the fast paced world of competitive cycling.

[Commie] Yowamushi Pedal - 02 [C497539A].mkv_snapshot_19.49_[2013.10.28_19.14.43]

It’s funny because he’s short.

The last component to a successful sports anime is a quirky supporting cast, which is an area that Yowamushi Pedal does not disappoint. Along with Sakamichi and Shunsuke are Miki Kanzaki, a young girl with a comical obsession with bicycles, her deadpan, sarcastic friend and, the seniors of the cyclist club at their high school. One of which is a lanky young man with the most glorious green and red hair you’ll ever see.

Just try and say that hair isn't beautiful. You can't.

Just try and say that hair isn’t beautiful. You can’t.

Verdict: Despite not being a particularly huge fan of sports, I always find myself enjoying sports related anime. Whether or not that is due to the fact that the average sports anime plot structure is almost identical to your average shonen adventure anime is a topic for another time. However, for now, Yowamushi Pedal has caught my eye and I intend to follow it for the rest of the season.

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Fall 2013 Anime: Wanna Be the Strongest in the World

SekaideIchibanI’m really starting to get tired of anime with really long names. Not because they’re hard to remember but, just because it gets annoying to write about them, since I usually write out the full name about seven times if I write a piece about it. Today I’ll be talking about Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai or, Wanna Be the Strongest in the World or, Sekatsuyo, whatever you wanna decide to call it. I really don’t care too much. It’s a show about women’s pro wrestling from ARMS, the producers of Queen’s Blade and Elfen Lied, Which means that on the surface it’s masturbation material for weirdos but, if you look closer you’ll see that it’s masturbation material for weirdos.

[HorribleSubs] Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai! - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_10.30_[2013.10.26_16.01.39]

This is what they want you to believe this show is all about.

Analysis: Based on my knowledge of anime and Japanese pop culture, I feel I can safely say that if there are three sports that the Japanese love more than any others, it’s baseball, soccer and, pro wrestling (SHUT UP. IT’S A SPORT). As such, we see anime about these three all the time. Well, more so about soccer and baseball but, wrestling gets its time on occasion with stuff like Tiger Mask, Kinnikuman and, Metal Fighter Miku. Now I’ll be perfectly honest, Sekatsuyo isn’t as much about pro wrestling as it is about having Ayana Taketatsu, the voice actress for the main character, suggestively moan into a microphone.

This is what it's actually about.

This is what it’s actually about.

The show starts with pop idols Sakura Hagiwara and Elena Miyazawa, going to a local pro wrestling promotion for some kind of publicity show when Rio Kazama, pro wrestler and general not so nice lady, decides to injure Elena in a sparring match, which prompts Sakura to challenge her to a match, which inevitably leads to Sakura decide that she’s gonna quit her career as a pop idol and dive head first into the world of women’s pro wrestling because why the hell not, right?

[HorribleSubs] Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai! - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_06.33_[2013.10.26_16.57.45]

Was Sakura just raped or, did she just receive a German suplex? That’s for you to decide…

I mentioned earlier that the production studio behind Queen’s Blade had their hands in this show and it shows greatly. I’ll say this though; out of all the really trashy, exploitative, pseudo-pornographic anime I’ve seen, Sekatsuyo succeeds at being not too bad. Aside from a number of scenes where Sakura will find herself in a submission hold, crying out in ecstacy agony as the screen jumps between zoom ins on her chest and crotch, there’s nothing horribly annoying or tasteless about the show. The characters are your standard sports anime fair. You have Sakura, the newbie with an unlikely amount of potential and determination, Rio, her rival  and, Misaki Toyoda, the current champion that Sakura idolizes because she’s so awesome and graceful in the ring. animation is nothing spectacular but, I’ve definitely seen worse, especially from ARMS. If the show involved more technical description of the inner workings pro wrestling, it could pass as an average sports manga with some slight sexual undertones which is why I find myself enjoying it more than I know I should. That being said, let’s see if we can avoid mentioning this show to the morons at Kotaku or that lady from Feminist Frquency . The last thing I wanna see is an op-ed piece or a youtube video about how this show promotes “rape culture” or some nonsense.

[HorribleSubs] Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai! - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_21.31_[2013.10.26_17.04.27]

Verdict: Sekatsuyo is the kind of show that makes it hard for you to enjoy it and not feel like a creep. However, I will say that in the grand scope of anime, there are far worse things to be caught watching. Thins will most likely get at least another week out of me until I put it to the side.

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Fall 2013 Anime: Kill la Kill

KillLaKill early imageLast Fall was the last time I tried to do those annoying solo pod casts for every new season. Boy, how time sure does fly, right!? Since I’m getting into Kill la Kill, I thought I would direct everyone’s attention to This. It’s a little article written by one Richard Eisenbies over at Kotaku, talking about Kill la Kill and how the method of transformation used in the show apparently bears a resemblance to slitting one’s wrist. So let’s take a moment to all point and laugh at this dude then, get on with our lives.

Kill la Kill is the brain child of Studio Trigger, a group of former Gainax guys who, under the leadership of director Hiroyuki Imaishi, went on to form their own studio and release some pretty interesting stuff, such as Inferno Cop and Little Witch Academia. It should also be noted that Kill la Kill features much of the same production staff that brought us Gurren Lagann, so it goes without saying that this was a show that received an incredible amount of hype both in Japan and abroad before its premiere. Now the only question is whether it lives up to said hype.

Analysis: This show is directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi, a man who’s made his name with other works such as FLCL, Dead Leaves, Evangelion, Panty and Stocking and, of course, Gurren Lagann. Gainax veteranKillLaKill whose decided to break out on his own, Imaishi and his team’s greatest strength is their ability to refresh old ideas and themes with their high-energy animation style as shown with Gurren Lagann, as anyone who has ever seen or heard of Getter Robo can and will tell you. That is exactly what Kill la Kill is, nothing particularly new but, it’s done in a way that no one’s seen before.

Kill la Kill begins the way I believe most anime should, devoid of wordy monologues or Star Wars like text scrolls meant to set up the world and its rules. Instead, we have a high-energy, high-action cold opening that establishes our main villains, their goals and, one of the major plot points of the show. The story revolves around Ryuuko Matoi, a tough girl who has just transferred to Honnouji Academy in search of the person who killed her Juuzou Kabuto-esque father. The most likely suspect in this case is Sastuki Kiryuuin, the student council president who controls the school like a savage dictator because you know, student council president is a position that’s ju[Underwater] KILL la KILL - 03 (720p) [D6162FE9].mkv_snapshot_20.33_[2013.10.18_10.55.49]st brimming with overwhelming power and authority, right? When Ryuuko realizes that it’ll be tough to reach Satsuki since she has an army of students wearing magical school uniforms that give them crazy super powers, she makes a hasty retreat to her old house, where she discovers her own super powered school uniform that gives her amazing powers.

Giving a simple description of the plot of Kill la Kill doesn’t do it justice. At its core, it’s nothing really ground-breaking, a revenge story with hints of a major twist down the road. However, The care that Imaishi and the folks at Trigger put into its presentation are what make it shine. The only true problem I have with the show is the fact that Taku Iwasaki was not brought in to compose the soundtrack. Instead, they chose to go with Hiroyuki Sawano, who people will know as the composer for Guilty Crown, Attack on Titan and, Sengoku Basara. As you all know, the big selling point being used for the show is that it’s the team that brought you Gurren Lagann so, to find out that the music, which was a major part of the Gurren Lagann experience, is composed by someone else, is a bit of a disappointment.

[Underwater] KILL la KILL - 03 (720p) [D6162FE9].mkv_snapshot_18.18_[2013.10.21_22.24.27]Verdict: At the time I am writing this, I have just finished watching episode three and if it’s any indicator for how the rest of the series will be, Kill la Kill has a solid chance at being the best show this season or maybe even this year. I’m gonna be following this weekly and I suggest that everyone who reads this does too.

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MTP 9/27/2013: We need someone to impregnate our things, to make more things…

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I was finally able to abduct Mr.EvoluderKamina from the NOTR studios for another rousing episode of the Manly Tears Podcast. This week we talk about a little show called Fate/Zero. As always sorry for being gone so long but, THESE ROCKING BEATS AIN’T GONNA WRITE THEMSELVES!!

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Nerds of the Round Table Podcast

Hey everyone, sorry for the lack of updates as of late, we’ve been having trouble getting everyone together at the same time. In the mean time, you guys can check out the new podcast by myself, OOOVer-clocked and some others, with a special guest appearance by NoBadSign!

Nerds of the Round Table Podcast

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Summer 2013 Anime: Watamote

WatamoteBefore I actually go into what this show is, I feel like I need to explain the name. There has been a pretty distinct trend in anime and japanese light novels as of late where naming your anime title or light novel has become a game of ” How much of the basic plot can you vaguely summarize in a weird sentence?” Basically, I’m talking about the breakout hits from the last few years such as “Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai” and “Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteru“. It’s because of this weird new trend that some production companies have gone so far as to devise little abbreviated names for their series. Ones that are short and easy to remember. Watamote is such a title since it’s full official name is “Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaete mo Omaera ga Warui!” which translates to “No Matter How I Look at It, It’s Your Fault I’m Not Popular!

Analysis: Ever since Otaku no Video, it seems like the slightly romanticized interpretation of the anime otaku has been growing in popularity to the point that we have entire anime series devoted to that subset of the Japanese population like Genshiken, Comic Party and, Doujin Work. However, lately it has become popular to peel away some of the rose-colored gild these shows place on anime otaku, hell, Kengo Hanazawa has made a decent career from it. Watamote is one of these shows.

[FTW]_Watashi_ga_Motenai_no_wa_Dou_Kangaetemo_Omaera_ga_Warui_-_01_[720p][84EDF505].mkv_snapshot_11.08_[2013.08.10_14.34.33]When I wrote my review of Flowers of Evil, I talked about how the main protagonist thought himself to be a demigod among ants in terms of intelligence because he read french literature from the 18th century but, in reality, that attitude was just a facade to hide his insecurities and the fact that he had all the personality of blank wall. Watamote is a similar tale of a young otaku girl who deludes herself into believing, as the title suggests, that it is not her fault that she isn’t more popular. These delusions of hers lead to hilarious results. seeing as Watamote is a show about an anime otaku, it is awash in anime references from Fate/Zero, Kuroko no Basket, and Death Note to name a few. I was actually pleasantly surprised when I watched an episode and was confronted with a reference that I could not place. I assumed it was from a Makoto Shinkai film and called it a day.

[FTW]_Watashi_ga_Motenai_no_wa_Dou_Kangaetemo_Omaera_ga_Warui_-_01_[720p][84EDF505].mkv_snapshot_16.19_[2013.08.10_14.34.53]I have to applaud Watamote for accomplishing something that few comedy anime series can do; be consistently funny and charming without getting dull. All of the jokes and hilarious situations succeed at hitting home and leave you wondering “What will Tomoko get herself into next?”If I had one major issue with the show it would have to be its soundtrack. Most of the background music for this show is this clumsy, oafish sounding horn that sounds like it should be the soundtrack for the life of a morbidly obese man.

Verdict: musical choices aside, Watamote is a solid little comedy that is fresh enough to grab my attention. I plan to follow this weekly.

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