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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Twelve "Nekketsu Manga" That Deserve TV Anime Adaptations (by MAPPA) Part 2

Welcome back for the second portion of this list of hot-blooded manga of the past that really should be given TV time via anime. Though I'm not big on re-using the same image across multiple parts, I just like how simple but visually effective that "nekketsu" kanji in front of the explosion is, so here it is again.

There, now everything feels better. Anyway, on Part 1 I ended with a Hiroshi Motomiya manga that saw cancellation partially because its old-school style was just not going to work with a generation that was going to grow up on Shonen Jump's "Golden Age". Therefore, let's start Part 2 with another manga that was cancelled for more or less the same reason, and it came from the man who introduced this change in shonen action.

Otoko Zaka/Man's Hill (男坂), 1984-1985
This was going to be Masami Kurumada's grand magnum opus. This was going to be the the manga that showed everyone what Masami Kurumada was all about thematically. This was going to be Otoko Ippiki Gaki Daisho for a new generation. Unfortunately, after slightly less than a year, Shueisha put the brakes on Otoko Zaka's serialization, because it just wasn't attracting an audience. Kurumada, not content with such a result, defied the order to "finish" the manga, putting "mikan/incomplete" on the final page in place of the usual "kan/complete" like every other cancelled manga gets. In a magazine where over-the-top spectacle & fantastical fighting was becoming more & more popular, partially because Kurumada himself made it popular via Ring ni Kakero, Jump readers were seemingly just not into Jingi Kikukawa's mission to unite the leaders of Japan's boys gang leaders in order to take on the incoming threat of the Junior World Connection. While I did enjoy what was originally published in the 80s, it's very easy to see that Otoko Zaka's oldest school execution was just not going to cut it in an age where Fist of the North Star, & later Dragon Ball, was king.

Still, the manga is back now, 30 years after the infamous non-ending. Kurumada has done two more volumes-worth of content, with plans to do more. Even though, in the decades since the original run, Saint Seiya has become Kurumada's "main breadwinner" (Poseidon Chapter pun fully intended), the fact that he decided to come back to Otoko Zaka shows that it really means a lot to him. It's not often that someone is able to come back to a prior work & be given essentially free-reign to continue it whenever he/she wants to, but Kurumada has gained that kind of clout in his 40 years as a mangaka. That's up there with Akira Toriyama doing manga when he pleases, or Yoshihiro Togashi, Kentarou Miura, & Kazushi Hagiwara being allowed to put their respective titles (Hunter X Hunter, Berserk, & Bastard!!) on hiatus for as long as they want. Finally, though Saint Seiya is the title everyone talks about, there are three other Kurumada manga that have seen anime adaptations (Fuma no Kojirou, B't X, & Ring ni Kakero 1), showcasing that Kurumada in general has an appeal; maybe Otoko Zaka deserves to be up there with those titles in terms of acknowledgement. In fact, an anime adaptation could either go only 12-13 episodes, covering the original Jump run, or 24-26 episodes, covering all five volumes that are out; Volume 5 ends on a perfect stopping point in that regard.

-What's Working For a TV Anime Adaptation?-
Well, as mentioned, Otoko Zaka has present relevancy simply by being back in semi-serialization. Sure, it's only volume-length runs between breaks, but it's better than nothing. That kind of relevancy has only resulted in two prior Kurumada anime, Saint Seiya & B't X. Fuma no Kojirou wasn't animated until six years after the manga ended, and was only made because Saint Seiya was such a big hit, while Ring ni Kakero 1's first season only happened to celebrate Kurumada's 30th Anniversary in the industry (later seasons seemed to happen mainly because the pachislot machines have always done well). A TV anime could help sell both reprints of the old volumes as well as any new volumes that will come out in the future. Another thing working in its favor is that the series already has an opening & ending theme, in essence. The 2005 album Seisei Ruten ~ Kurumada-Ism~ was a compilation of songs that Kurumada himself wrote the lyrics to for the anime adaptations of his four major works, but at the end was a "bonus track" for Otoko Zaka; it was an enka-style song sung by Sayuri Setoguchi that easily sounds like an opening theme. Then, just last year, was a "maxi single" to celebrate Kurumada's 40th Anniversary. Inside was a new recording of "Otoko Zaka", this time by Mayumi Gojo, as well as a new song called "Jinsei Misaki", which absolutely sounds like an ending theme. While it's not a major factor in the grand scheme of things, it does result in one less thing to think about. In fact, if all five volumes were to be adapted, Setoguchi's version of "Otoko Zaka" could be used for the episodes that cover the original Jump chapters, while Gojo's newer version could be used for the recent chapters.

Most importantly, however, an Otoko Zaka anime could be a way for newcomers to potentially get into the works of Masami Kurumada. While Saint Seiya is the major work out there, it's also a massive franchise, making it very imposing for newcomers to really get into. Not everyone who is interested in the series is going to be willing to watch even the 73 episodes of the original Seiya anime that's available legally via streaming, not to mention survive the various filler in those first 30-40 episodes, and while something like the OVA adaptation of The Lost Canvas is a fine starting point, it still is different enough from Kurumada's specific style to not be an exact example of how he tells stories. Since the chances of the Fuma no Kojirou, B't X, or Ring ni Kakero 1 anime ever seeing any sort of legal option over here are next to none (Catch-22: No company will bring them over if no one's asking for them, but no one will know of them if no company is giving them the opportunity to watch them), then a TV anime adaptation of Otoko Zaka may be the best way to bring in newcomers who are hesitant to jump into something as large as Saint Seiya. Since almost every new anime that debuts gets some sort of simulcast now, then we'd likely get a simulcast of that.

-What's Working Against a TV Anime Adaptation?-
There's only one major thing working against an Otoko Zaka TV anime, honestly. In short, it's business suicide to go up against Toei Animation's Saint Seiya productions. Ever since 2003, there has been some sort of anime production based on a Masami Kurumada manga made every single year, most of them being Seiya-related. The only exceptions from Toei itself were the Ring ni Kakero 1 anime seasons in 2004, 2006, 2010, & 2011. For the first two years, it was because Toei was alternating between doing a Seiya Hades OVA series & a season of RnK1. After 2008's Hades Elysion there was an opening, which TMS Entertainment took advantage of by doing the Lost Canvas OVAs. Sadly, while Season 1 did very well, the second season in 2011, which was fast-tracked & even simulcasted on CrunchyRoll, did not do well, with TMS admitting that it won't be doing any more. Since then, Toei made Saint Seiya Omega from 2012-2014, released the Legend of Sanctuary CG move last year, & is presently making the Soul of Gold ONA series. While Soul of Gold will be ending next month, Toei has already stated that, due to the success of Omega (& SoG's supposedly great streaming numbers), the studio will continue making Seiya anime as long as they can, and you know that the people in charge really want to adapt Saint Seiya Next Dimension eventually. I'd love to see an Otoko Zaka anime, it's actually my #1 most-wanted out of all the entries in this entire list, but as long as the Saint Seiya marketing machine stays strong I really doubt it will ever happen, regardless of whether or not Masami Kurumada is making more of it.

-Personal Wish-
This is a simple one: I'd love see Kappei Yamaguchi voice Jingi. I'm not really sure why, but I just feel like Jingi should have Yamaguchi's one-of-a-kind voice. I liked his performance as Ishimatsu in the Ring ni Kakero Manga DVD, so maybe that's a big part of it, but this is mainly a superficial wish.

B・B Burning Blood (ビービー BURNING BLOOD), 1985-1991
This is another entry that I'm only vaguely familiar with, but it's seeming pedigree makes me want to include it. Much like Shonen Magazine, friendly rival magazine Shonen Sunday has had its share of long-runners, and most of the them have seen TV anime adaptation. Dame Oyaji, Rumiko Takahashi's shonen icons (Urusei Yatsura, Ranma 1/2, InuYasha), Ghost Sweeper Mikami, H2, Major, Dan Doh!!, & now Ushio & Tora are all older Sunday manga that have been made into TV anime, with varying amount of notability outside of Japan. In fact, from what I can tell, there are only three notable Sunday manga than all ran over 30 volumes, yet have never seen a TV anime adaptation: Kazuhiro Fujita's Karakuri Circus (43 volumes; the title he did after U&T), Hiroyuki Nishimori's Kyo Kara Ore Wa!! (38; had a 10-episode OVA from 1993-1996), & the subject of this entry, Osamu Ishiwata's Burning Blood, or B・B for short, which totaled 31 volumes.

Burning Blood tells the tale of the tape of Ryo Takagi, a trumpet-playing ruffian who winds up slowly making his way to being a professional boxer, especially when he finds a rival in Jin Moriyama. Sadly, I had very little info about this title, mainly because the synopsis you tend to find online doesn't seem to match up with the anime adaptation that is out there, but I'll get to that in a moment. While it wasn't made for TV, from 1990-1991 there was a three-episode OVA adaptation of the manga, animated by Satoshi Dezaki's studio Magic Bus & directed by his legendary younger brother, Osamu Dezaki (with character designer/companion Akio Sugino tagging along). Among the entire catalog of the younger, more celebrated Dezaki, B・B is probably his most obscure, mainly because it has never seen a DVD release; it only received a VHS & LD release before being forgotten. In fact, I don't think it would be exaggerating to call the B・B OVA "The Forgotten Dezaki Anime"; only recently have VHS rips been made available online, & they're pretty fuzzy (I'm still looking for LD #3, myself). I saw the first two episodes years ago & liked what I saw (I'll get around the seeing the entire thing & reviewing it one day), so I'd certainly be up for a TV anime that goes beyond the OVAs. The usual synopsis I mentioned says that Takagi winds up going to jail, only to become a stronger man in the end, so I'm curious about how that happens, because there's no sign of that in what I saw in the OVA.

Plus, it only makes sense for a list comprised of "nekketsu manga" to include a series that has as literal of a title as one can get to "hot blood".

-What's Working For a TV Anime Adaptation?-
Luckily for B・B, boxing anime has been made every now & then within the past decade. There's the occasional season of Hajime no Ippo, the four seasons of Ring ni Kakero 1, the criminally underrated Rainbow: Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin, & if you want you can also include the 2003 OVA series Joe vs. Joe (though it isn't exactly spectacular). While it certainly isn't a genre that's brought to light very often, it's supported enough to be worth giving B・B a try on, while not being crowded to the point of feeling tired & trite upon arrival. If anything, though, the old Dezaki OVAs should really be given a DVD release nowadays, if only to test the market & see if making a brand new, TV anime adaptation of Ishiwata's award-winning (Shogakukan's shonen award in 1989) & longest-running manga would truly be worth giving a go or not. Also, upon more research, B・B's story apparently goes pretty dark & violent, even detailing the characters' lives in non-boxing areas, like street fights & even (apparently) an actual war. If anything, it certainly doesn't sound like your usual boxing series.

-What's Working Against a TV Anime Adaptation?-
While B・B may have run for 31 volumes, won a manga award, received an Osamu Dezaki-directed OVA adaptation, & even spawned a 30-volume Shonen Sunday sequel (1993-1999's LOVe) that focused on Ryu Takagi's daugher Ai (who was actually born during the story of B・B) & her journey at becoming a tennis great... It just doesn't seem to come off as a truly "iconic" Shonen Sunday series. Many people still argue that winning something like the Shogakukan Manga Award isn't exactly as important as it sounds, simply because Shogakukan's own series seem to win the awards very often (this was much more common in the earlier years of the award). Then you have to remember that the Dezaki-directed OVAs have never received any sort of re-release, let alone one on DVD, turning it into the legendary director's least-known work (especially since it was made during what might be the man's prime); even Wikipedia Japan has nothing about it other than a staff, episode title, & cast list. Finally, for something that ran for so long, it doesn't seem to appear in many crossover games involving Shonen Sunday, with the only notable appearances being 2009's Nintendo DS RPG Sunday & Magazine White Comic & the collectible card game Victory Spark, but both of those had gigantic line-ups, which kind of lessens how important B・B is in those games. I'm not disparaging this manga in any way, & I could be completely wrong in terms of B・B's importance in the halls of Shonen Sunday, but from what I can tell Osamu Ishiwata's biggest manga just doesn't seem to match up in terms of legacy compared to its predecessors, contemporaries, & successors... And that right there is the biggest thing going against a TV anime.

I mean, before this post, have you ever heard of B・B Burning Blood?

Bastard!! (バスタード!! -暗黒の破壊神-), 1988-Present [Irregularly]
Out of all of the manga I'm listing, this is the only one that's still running to this very day, though (as mentioned earlier) new chapters tend to come out whenever the creator feels like it; the exquisite detail in said chapters makes it all worth it, though. Kazushi Hagiwara got his first gig in manga by being an assistant to Izumi Matsumoto during the serialization of Kimagure Orange Road, followed by a stint with hentai creator Dirty Matsumoto (no relation), and both of those creators obviously helped influence a portion of the kind of manga Bastard!! -Ankoku no Hakaishin/Destructive God of Darkness- is. On the one hand, the tale of Dark Schneider, D.S. for short, being revived to stop his old "friends" in their attempt to revive Anthrasax, who destroyed the world in seven days hundreds of years ago, is outright high fantasy, complete with magic spells, various D&D-inspired creatures & races, & an epic story that eventually goes to the point of (re-)apocalyptic when the forces of both Heaven & Hell appear. Interestingly enough, though, Bastard!! is also hard fantasy, i.e. bound by reality & science, to an extent, as Hagiwara goes to extreme lengths to explain just how everything in this world operates. Also, let's not forget the fact that nearly everything & everyone is named after a metal or rock band/artist. On the other hand, though, you have Dark Schneider, a fourth-wall breaking lead who is ready & oh-so-willing to sex up any & all women who appear in front of him. Bastard!! was not only hyper-violent, but also so blatantly sexual that after only a year in Shonen Jump it moved to Seasonal Specials, followed by irregular serialization & then outright being moved to adult-oriented Ultra Jump in 2002, where it still appears irregularly to this day.

Still, Bastard!! is considered a fantasy cult-classic in Japanese manga, having received an OVA series across 1992-1993 that wound up being cut short, two video games on the Super Famicom & original PlayStation, & there were plans to make a MMORPG (Bastard!! Online) that sadly went nowhere after a beta test in 2006. While Dark Schneider has never appeared in any Shonen Jump crossover, likely due to the unwanted risk of getting kids to check out the manga he comes from (even early on it's way more than simply "raunchy"), the fact that Hagiwara somehow was allowed to publish such a controversially violent & sexual manga when other titles deemed too inappropriate for Jump readers (like Harenchi Gakuen or Chinyuuki) were simply cancelled showcases that there's something to Bastard!! that appeals to people. Let's face it, sometimes people just want to read something that's dirty beyond all belief, while also being bats*** insane & hyper-violent. With late-night being such a successful timeslot for anime now, Bastard!! may have the perfect spot to fit in.

-What's Working For a TV Anime Adaptation?-
You know why titles like Berserk & Hunter X Hunter & are still allowed to see new chapters, even if their creators don't feel like doing them at the moment? It's because, when they do return & new volumes come out, they sell like hotcakes; fans are willing to wait because they are that invested in them. The same is true for Bastard!!, as whenever a new volume comes out (once in a blue moon), it sells very well & appears in the best-selling new manga lists in Japan consistently. Timing a Bastard!! TV anime to go alongside a new volume (or one of the new kanzenban or bunkoban releases) would simply be smart from a business perspective, not to mention having a new episode each week would help keep the title in the minds of fans, much like when Hunter X Hunter received a new TV anime. Also, even though there is definitely a glut of fantasy anime out there right now each year, a new Bastard!! anime would still be more than different enough from any of them due to the content. Even something like Queen's Blade or Bikini Warriors may pale in terms of fanservice compared to the likes of Hagiwara's epic, & D.S.'s fourth-wall breaking humor & uncontainable braggadocio would certainly make him a far cry from any of the leads that we see in shows like Sword Art Online, Overlord, or DanMachi. In fact, an anime adaptation could allow D.S. to make original jokes about how he's "obviously" superior to any of his current competition. Much like how there really isn't any other manga out there quite like Bastard!!, there certainly wouldn't be anything quite like a TV anime adaptation of the manga, especially one that hews even closer to Hagiwara's vision than the OVAs did.

-What's Working Against a TV Anime Adaptation?-
Honestly, I don't even think late-night could properly contain how violent & sexual Bastard!! can be, even on its lighter takes of that kind of content. Almost every season there's that one show that people online love to poke fun at in terms of how exactly the producers try to censor stuff like hyper-violence or strong sexuality; this season the subject is Prison School, for example. In fact, shows like Terra Formars or Pupa, regardless of the actual quality of either, were considered downright unwatchable in their televised forms because of how much the censorship covered up at many moments. In that case, a Bastard!! TV anime would be impossible to enjoy in its original televised form, due to the sheer amount of gore, bare female breasts, & sexual deviancy of D.S. (which borders on showcasing outright sexual intercourse at time [before almost going all the way once story goes to Ultra Jump]). Hell, even JoJo's Bizarre Adventure couldn't get away with some of its gore on TV, not to mention even having to blacken out any scene where Jotaro smokes.

In fact, while I did decide to include Bastard!! in this list because I really would love to see a new anime adaptation, I will concede that a TV anime wouldn't be the best choice from a practical perspective. While being on TV would result in the manga being adapted as accurately as it possibly could be, especially once it would be released on home video, I do think the best chance Bastard!! has at ever being adapted into anime again would be in the form of a movie series, like what happened with Berserk. While that would require the removal or shortening of some scenes for time, it would allow for no censorship to be necessary, not to mention (likely) being given animation that can match up with the quality Hagiwara gives his manga now.

-Personal Wish-
Much like with Astro Kyudan, my personal wish for Bastard!! is about bringing someone back for a role. In this case, I'd love to see Kazuki Yao reprise his OVA role as Dark Schneider. Yao just delivered such a strong & iconic performance that every time I see Dark Schneider in an image saying something, I can only imagine him with Kazuki Yao's easily-identifiable voice.

Also, for the fun of it, considering that Bastard!! is all about being as heavy metal as can possibly be, should a new anime adaptation of any sort happen, it should have a theme song by J-Metal band Maximum the Hormone. It would just feel right.

Rokudenashi BLUES/Good for Nothing BLUES (ろくでなしBLUES), 1988-1997
Yet another Shonen Jump entry here, but I promise that this will be the final one across the entire list. I once said that "Masanori Morita is probably the biggest-name Shonen Jump mangaka you likely never heard of," and I still think that. Even if we never got Kochikame over here (outside of Ryo-san being in J-Stars Victory Vs., which did come out over here two months ago), people at least know of that title, which puts Osamu Akimoto as a slight advantage. But between the two, there's no doubt that Masanori Morita knows what "nekketsu" is. The man worked as an assistant for Tetsuo Hara during the serialization of Fist of the North Star, after all. Anyway, Rokudenashi BLUES focuses on Taison Maeda, a Kansai-raised boy who lives in Tokyo & dreams of becoming a championship-winning pro-boxer. Unfortunately, Taison doesn't really know the first thing about boxing, and while he tries to be a nice & friendly guy, he just can't help always getting into fights & living the usual yankii/delinquent life. Mixing together down-&-dirty, realistic fighting with various delinquents, all of which have larger-than-life personalities, "RokuBuru" (as it's shortened to in Japan) is one of the biggest names in yankii manga, with only the Crows x Worst franchise beating it in iconicity.

Seriously, think about some of the manga that defined Shonen Jump's "Golden Age" (1983-1996), and consider how long each of them ran for. Fist of the North Star was 27 volumes, Yu Yu Hakusho was 19, Saint Seiya was 28, & Slam Dunk was 31. While JoJo's Bizarre Adventure was technically longer by the time Dragon Ball's last volume saw release on August 4, 1995 (by only one volume, no less!), most people point to the latter's 42-volume run as being the true sign of how iconic Akira Toriyama's biggest work was for Jump during that time. Well, Rokudenashi BLUES, which debuted during the apex of the "Golden Age" & ended a year after it closed, not only beat all of the first-listed titles in length, but wound up tying Dragon Ball in length, also ending at 42 volumes! Even removing JoJo, Captain Tsubasa, Kinnikuman, & Kochikame from consideration, as they are stretched across multiple series or is a Guinness World Record holder, only four Jump manga have run longer than either DB or "RokuBuru" (One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, & GinTama, with Prince of Tennis & Reborn! tying them at 42), so there's no doubt that Masanori Morita deserves way more recognition than he normally receives, which is a restricted niche at best. It's finally time to give this series a TV anime & have it join the pantheon of iconic Jump manga that it always should have been in.

-What's Working For a TV Anime Adaptation?-
The biggest thing working for a Rokudenashi BLUES TV anime is its status as a Jump icon. A manga doesn't end up being one of the longest (single series) titles in a magazine's history without heaving a strong appeal, and it's not like the franchise hasn't been out of the spotlight recently. Aside from numerous pachislot & pachinko machines featuring brand-new short animations in the past years, there was also a J-Drama adaptation back in 2011 (though I hear it wasn't a good show, mainly due to attempts at updating it to be more timely). During it's heyday in the 90s, though, it also saw some adaptations. First there were two anime movies made by Toei, a 30-minute production in 1992 & a feature-length movie in 1993, and both were very well done products on their own merit. There were also two live-action movies made in 1996 & 1998, which is generally where yankii manga are given the most attention when it comes to adaptation. Sadly, while the live-action movies & J-Drama were all given DVD releases, the two anime movies still linger as VHS-only releases from the early-90s; I don't even think either was given a LD release. Even more sad is the fact that there's probably a good reason why those anime movies haven't seen a re-release yet, and it leads into...

-What's Working Against a TV Anime Adaptation?-
Here's a challenge: Count how many yankii manga have been given TV anime adaptations. Actually, let me save you the trouble of finding out the answer, because it's kind of depressing. From what I can find out, the only yankii manga that has ever seen a TV anime is Hareluya II BØY, and that adaptation (while very strong overall) was a super-early late-night anime from 1997 & featured some dreadfully cheap animation at times. Also, one could argue that BØY isn't exactly the same type of "yankii" as the likes of Crows or "RokuBuru". While many yankii manga did see OVAs or anime movies, TV has always looked to be an impossibility for the genre when it comes to anime. Especially when compared to its Jump action contemporaries & successors, Morita's tale of delinquents doesn't have the same sense of grandeur & love of the fantastical. Make no mistake, these aren't super-powered delinquents, but rather realistic high-school kids (though check back next time for the former...), and that may be what's keeping Rokudenashi BLUES from ever being made into a TV anime.

Also, on a minor note, there is some sense of notoriety for being able to claim the name of "Longest Jump Manga without a TV Anime", which is what Rokudenashi BLUES was able to do once the JoJo TV anime debuted in 2012. At the very least, there's always that sense of, "It could always happen, can't it?", and I certainly can't say that about what would claim the title should "RokuBuru" ever see a TV anime: Kazuyoshi Torii's Toilet Hakase,  a 30-volume gag manga from 1970-1977 about a scientist who works in scatology & operates out of a toilet-shaped laboratory. Yeah, if that never received a TV anime back then, then it never will.

-Personal Wish-
I'm not one to go around saying "This prior seiyuu must return to voice this character!", like other fans tend to do, but that doesn't mean that I don't mind it when it does happen. Therefore, should Rokudenashi BLUES ever see a TV anime, I think it would be neat if Hiroaki Hirata was to voice Taison once again, as he really did an outstanding job in the 1993 movie. If it was a new voice, then fine, but I have my choice in my head picked out here for the fun of it.
Normally, I'd say that this was the end of the list, but because each entry goes so long I'll be back later for Part 3, where we leave the 80s & head into the 90s. Also, I'll include a bonus entry at the end which is from the past decade, but looks to cling close to the same "nekketsu" spirit of the other 12 manga that came before it. See you then!

1 comment:

  1. The only title I had never heard of was Burning Blood, so my guess is it wasnt that important..
    I know you are missing 4 more manga, but I don´t know if you consider GTO nekketsu, but Shonan Junai gumi would be pretty cool as an anime.