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Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple (史上最強の弟子ケンイチ Shijō Saikyō no Deshi Ken'ichi?, lit. History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi) is a Japanese manga by Syun Matsuena serialized in the weekly manga magazine Shōnen Sunday.
This manga is a remake of Tatakae! Ryōzanpaku Shijō Saikyō no Deshi (戦え!梁山泊 史上最強の弟子?, lit. Fight! Ryōzanpaku, History's Strongest Disciple), which was serialized in the monthly manga magazine Shōnen Sunday Super, publishing five tankōbon between 2000 and 2002.
The story focuses on Kenichi Shirahama, an average 16-year-old high school student who has been picked on his whole life. However, after a month into his freshman year, he meets and befriends the mysterious transfer student, Miu Fūrinji. Driven by his desire to become stronger and to protect those around him, he follows her to Ryōzanpaku, a dojo where those who are truly strong and have mastered their arts gather (Ryōzanpaku comes from the Chinese story of Heroes of the Water Margin who train together at Liangshan 梁山). After learning basics from Miu, Kenichi is able to beat a high ranking member of the school's karate club, and becomes a target for all the delinquents in the school. Kenichi's reason for training is to fulfill the promise he made to protect Miu. Subsequently, Kenichi's daily routine is divided between hellish training under the six masters of Ryōzanpaku, and his fights against the members of Ragnarok, a gang that views him as either a possible ally or an impending threat to their plans. After defeating Ragnarok, he faces a new enemy called YOMI, a group of disciples who are each personally trained by a master of an even bigger organization rivaling Ryōzanpaku, Yami. Hee realized that he wanted to be the stongest in order to protect everyone without killing anyone. Along with former members of Ragnarok who joined the Shinpaku Alliance, a group created by Kenichi's schoolmate Haruo Niijima, Kenichi now fights Yami to prove his ideals and protect those in need.
- Kenichi Shirahama (白浜 兼一 Shirahama Ken'ichi?) Voiced by: Tomokazu Seki (Japanese), Josh Grelle (English)
- Kenichi is a first year high school student, who likes gardening and reading books. He was initially viewed as a weakling by the rest of his school, and was ranked as the weakest student. In order to become strong enough to help others, he becomes a disciple of the Ryozanpaku Dojo, and eventually lives there, so he can fully learn his masters' techniques. Despite his timid nature, he grows to be a martial artist when motivated, usually when using his skill to help others, adversary and ally alike. Although his masters and many of his opponents refer to him as someone with zero talent for martial arts, it is implied that his stubbornness and talent for hard work serve just as well. His masters also said:"you are a person who cannot learn high level moves because of your zero talent for martial arts, that's why we will make your low level moves the strongest!"
- Miu Furinji (風林寺 美羽 Fūrinji Miu?) Voiced by: Tomoko Kawakami (Japanese), Carrie Savage (English)
- Miu is a first year high school student, who also happens to be in the same class as Kenichi. Miu has a quiet nature despite being an incredibly strong and talented fighter trained by her grandfather, the elder of the Ryozanpaku Dojo, since childhood. Miu is quite eager to make friends, and treasures her training with Kenichi, but seems oblivious to his true feelings for her, though she does get jealous whenever another girl shows affection for him and has on various occasions hinted towards having deeper feelings for him, such as getting embarrassed when people suggest they are a couple.
- A Dou type martial artist uses his/her anger to exceed his/her limits. As such, they tend to be aggressive in combat, and very rarely strays from the offensive. At some cases, they are even bestial, as seen with Miu and Kisara, after receiving intense emotional pain and frustation, respectively. Users seem to rely heavily on instincts and brute strength when fighting. According to James Shiba, a Dou fighter focuses on making their ki "explode" after channelling it through a target to deal damage. According to the manga, Apachai, Sakaki, and Miu are all Dou types. It seems that Dou types are more prone to move onto the path of Asura (the killing path), because they fight with anger, and can hardly control themselves when fighting. However, Apachai, Sakaki, and Miu are able to uphold the principles of Katsujin-ken because of their own natural sense of kindness.
- A Sei type martial artist doesn't fight to kill his/her enemy. It actually means that this type of martial artist fights not with power or anger, but with skill and wit. These traits are evident in Kensei, Akisame, Hayato, and Kenichi. This principle requires a state of calmness and a clarity of mind.
- The Path of the Asura
- The path of the martial artist who pursues power in order to crush all who oppose them. Isshinsai Ogata is one notable example of one who has accepted this principle. Those who walk this path will eventually use this power to kill.
- Literally "the killing fist". The yin belief that martial arts were created to kill and destroy. Yami embodies this principle and recognizes that it cannot prove that satsujin-ken is the true meaning of martial arts without defeating Ryozanpaku, who embodies the principle of katsujin-ken.
- Literally "the saving fist". The yang belief that martial arts were created to save and protect lives. Even without the resources and manpower of Yami, the masters of Ryozanpaku are bent on upholding this principle.
The "History's Strongest Disciple Kenichi" manga is currently serialized in Shōnen Sunday. The series has been compiled into 34+ tankōbon. The manga series follows the story past the ending seen in the anime, in which Kenichi encounters members of Yomi and their respective masters.
An anime adaptation of Kenichi: History's Strongest Disciple animated by Tokyo Movie Shinsha first started airing on October 7, 2006. It aired a total of fifty episodes, covering from the beginning of the story to the confrontation against the top members of Ragnarok. FUNimation has dubbed the series. All 50 episodes have been released as of May 25, 2010.
The series made its North American television debut when it aired on FUNimation Channel starting October 26, 2009. Shows 26 episodes.
Between the manga and anime
- In the manga, Kenichi starts training at Ryōzanpaku after beating Daimonji. Miu's map was so confusing that Kenichi needed Honoka to decipher it for him.
- A short arc before Kenichi's showdown with Hermit showed that Akisame had brought Kenichi to train in the mountains to learn the art of tactics. In addition to learning such, Kenichi also showed that training can be a tactic in itself. This arc is not shown in the anime.
- In the manga, after the second battle between Kenichi and Hermit, there is a short arc where Kenichi and Sakaki challenged another dojo, where one of the members of the Shinpaku Alliance was learning an unsportsmanlike version of martial arts (poking the opponents' eyes, using foldable chairs to attack, etc.). This arc is not shown in the anime.
- Right after defeating Thor, the next chapter showed Kenichi slacking off in his training as he thought he was strong enough. His masters proved otherwise, with Apachai getting him severely injured. This is not shown in the anime.
- Right after the arc where Kisara quit Ragnarok, the following 5 chapters followed Hayato's recounts of his meeting with Apachai, and how the latter followed him to Ryōzanpaku. This arc, which is not shown in the anime, was then immediately followed by Nījima's plan 'H' to get Hermit to join the Shinpaku Alliance. This is set after Kenichi went on the mountain retreat with Hayato in the anime, but in the manga, Kenichi participated in the action.
- There is a short arc where Kenichi's father visited him at the Ryōzanpaku Dojo, and after witnessing the actual training, tried to get Kenichi to return home. He brought along his new gun, rotowski, which he secretly bought without his wife's knowledge.
- In the manga, the 馬 family (Kensei, Sōgetsu, Renka, etc.) pronounces their family name ば, (Ba); in the anime, and in some translations, this has been changed to the usual Chinese pronunciation, ま (Ma.)
- Blood in the anime version is either significantly reduced, or removed entirely when compared to the manga.
- The anime ends before the YOMI arc(chapter 143 of manga), thus its existence is omitted.(Actually it is referred to as the darkness so it is hard to say if it was omitted or not since YOMI does translate to The Darkness in English.)
In Tatakae!! Ryōzanpaku
The plot to the 5 volume monthly predecessor to the series was mostly the same, with a few major differences:
- Shigure does not exist in the monthly version, and two of the masters are said to be away on a journey (the silhouette of one of them seems to be Shigure, however the other figure was rumored to be Saiga Furinji). Also, Akisame's age is said to be 28 instead of 38, but despite the 10 year age difference his looks are the same.
- Kenichi and Miu do not attend the same high school.
- Ma Sougetsu and Ikki Takeda both look completely different as the former has a much less muscular and intimidating appearance and the latter has short black hair. Additionally, Takeda is named Takenouchi (竹ノ内?) (possibly a parody of Ippo Makunouchi from Hajime no Ippo) and is the captain of the boxing team. Natsu Tanimoto is also instead named Natsu Sugimoto (杉本 夏 Sugimoto Natsu?).
- Nijima's hair is a lot shorter and more flat-bowl shaped.
- The group Kenichi battles against is named Snake (スネイク?) and is headed by three main members: Shōgo Furukawa (吉川 将吾 Furukawa Shōgo?) (Top One), Natsu Sugimoto/Hermit (Top Two), and Kisara Nanjō (Top Three). The three of them later appeared in Kenichi as members of Ragnarok (Furukawa appeared as Berserker). Ragnarok was used as the name of Snake's rival group.
- Kisara Nanjo's hair is different compared to the ongoing manga and anime and Shogo Furukawa was never shown chewing gum nor being normally passive compared to the ongoing manga.
- The original Hermit looked exactly (with some slight hair differences) like the new Takeda, still however clothed in the same Hermit outfit.
- Ryōzanpaku Master Differences: Shio Sakaki had a much slimmer build than in the spinoff, Apachai Hopachai was fashioned in the same clothes, with hair resembling Guile from Street Fighter, Shigure Kosaka is fashioned in more of a stereotypical ninja suit, Hayato is less muscular, Ma Kensei had the same outfit without his signature hat and a yin yang symbol on his shoulders, and Akisame Koetsuji had shorter hair.
- Ma Kensei and Ma Sogetsu are adopted brothers instead of real brothers.
- Kenichi did not mention his never-hit-a-girl policy.
- Instead of Ogata who saved Natsu when he was little it was Ma Sogetsu.
- It is a kind old grandpa who adopted Natsu and his sister instead of the other version of a heartless businessman.
- After Kenichi defeated Shōgo Furukawa (吉川 将吾 Furukawa Shōgo?) he became the Leader of Snake and become Top 1 reluctantly.
- Shōgo Furukawa (吉川 将吾 Furukawa Shōgo?) and Kisara become the newest disciple of Ryōzanpaku.
- Instead of Mycroft, Christopher Eclair fights Sakaki, but Mycroft makes a cameo appearance in a flashback of Sakaki burying him and Christopher in a desert and he is also mentioned briefly. In the fight between Sakaki and Mycroft (in the monthly manga), Sakaki also makes a reference to the burial. Though Mycroft's hatred for Sakaki is never mentioned in the weekly manga.
- (Japanese) Shōnen Sunday's official Shijō Saikyō no Deshi Kenichi page
- (Japanese) Official Kenichi anime site for TV-Tokyo
- (Japanese) Official Kenichi anime site for TMS
- (Japanese) episode list
- (Japanese) Official New White Union site
- (Japanese) Official Syun Matsuena site
- (English) Official Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple site
- (Japanese) DVD Kenichi: Box Set DVD site
- Shijyou Saikyou no Deshi Kenichi (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Shijyou Saikyou no Deshi Kenichi (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia