Manga of the Now: Kongou Banchou
Welcome to my second entry in my “Of the Now” series. Today, I bring you a more recent, lesser known, and much manlier series, Kongou Banchou. As regular readers may know, I am a huge fan of manliness and GAR. There’s plenty of entertaining GAR anime and manga out there, but few take it to the extremes the way Kongou Banchou does.
So here’s the premise. The Japanese government has decided to hold a secret tournament amongst 23 chosen banchou, gang leaders, in Tokyo. The winner of the tournament then becomes the next ruler of Japan. It’s basically G Gundam only slightly less retarded. In comes Kongou Akira, a manly man who stands well over 8 feet tall who decides to sabotage the tournament because he thinks the whole idea is stupid, and the cliche grudge against his estranged older brother. He unintentionally becomes a part of the tournament and fights a cast of bizarre, but entertaining banchou.
The main reason I enjoy this series is because it is completely absurd. Kongou’s monstrous strength allows him to take down a yakuza base with ease using only his fists and a luxury car. However, he is also a kind hearted guy whose favorite food is pudding. Despite being 8 feet tall, he is still below average in height compared to other characters who are literally giants. However, he is still much stronger than the giants and overcomes all obstacles in his path through hard work and guts. His lawful neutral attitude makes him a comical, albeit shallow character. However, I don’t read this series for a deep story. I just want to see manly men beat each other bloody.
The other banchou are equally absurd. My favorite is the Gouriki (Herculian strength) Banchou who is a petit ojou character who has immense strength despite her size due to a muscular abnormality. The different banchou have different reasons for fighting, hers being a strong sense of justice. Another humorous banchou is the Nenbutsu (Buddhist prayer) banchou who wishes to reform Japan into a Buddhist country with himself as the worshipped Buddha.
Overall Kongou Banchou is a lot of fun to read. So far, the story has been pretty simple with Kongou challenging and beating the shit out of every banchou that comes his way. Most of the early opponents end up being confused rather than truly evil, a common occurence in shonen manga, foreshadowing at their eventual importance to the larger plot. The art is sharp, with dynamic action scenes. The character designs borrow from the stereotypes they are based on, while maintaining some originality. As of writing this, only 28 chapters have been scanlated, and are up on Manga Fox for all to read. As long as you can get past the idiotic premise, you should enjoy reading this series.
So that’s my second “Of the Now” article. Much shorter than the last one, but also more to the point, so I guess I’m getting the hang of writing again. Next up, I’ll write a Summer season preview or a Spring season review. Stay cool now that it’s getting warmer.