Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple - A (not so) Mini Review

Synopsis: Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is about a 16 year old high school student named Kenichi Shirahama. He's the typical untalented, arguably weak protagonist that makes up for what he lacks with sheer willpower and perseverance. Kenichi's world begins to change when he befriends a mysterious exchange student, Miu Furinji, whom invites Kenichi to her dojo in order to train. To Kenichi's dismay, his master forces him to do intense strength training rather than teaching him how to fight. Miu realizes how disappointed Kenichi feels and decides to teach him a basic stepping technique he can use in a fight against his fellow karate club members. Kenichi ends up beating a high ranking karate club member with the technique Miu shows him, which results in him being a target for progressively tougher opponents.

I first heard about Kenichi almost a year ago during 2009's Anime Expo. I was sitting in the back of a Funimation panel checking out what they had in store for the future when they started to play a trailer and some clips from the anime. I couldn't help but feel unimpressed as I watched one of the most seemingly generic anime to date. Despite my initial reaction, here I am now writing a review of the show after having bought and watched all 50 episodes of the series.

So, why the change of heart? Let me tell you, that it's a classic case of "don't judge a book by its cover." Yes, Kenichi is probably up there with one of the most generic shonen story lines that exists to date, but when you think about, that can be said for most story lines these days. In the end, it's all about the execution.

One of the things that makes Kenichi great is that it's another underdog story. People just can't help but cheer for the underdog. It would be less exciting if the main character in a show was all powerful and talented. There wouldn't be any suspense whatsoever; the main character would just be mowing down bad guys left and right with little or no effort.

Another reason why Kenichi is so appealing is how they execute his character progression. Kenichi starts of weak and unknowledgeable, but then progresses towards the status of history's strongest disciple. You get to see Kenichi get stronger and stronger each episode as his masters put him through ridiculously tough training that would kill a lesser man. The cool thing I found about this is that Kenichi would actually use the moves his masters taught not too long after having learnt them. This strays away from shows like Dragon Ball Z and Bleach where the main characters use 2 or 3 moves that are enhanced by some new powerful form. Kenichi never gains a super saiyan form, but grows stronger as he adds moves to his repertoire.

The last reason (but certainly not restricted to the 3 points covered in the review) Kenichi is a great anime is the action. The fight scenes are animated very well, and you can't help but get pumped up as you watch Kenichi put his hard work into action. I have to admit though that there are certain parts that could have been done better, but I would have to guess that the studio did not have enough time and/or money to animate a more fluid fight scene as the anime would use stills with the camera panning to simulate action. Regardless, these scenes are still done very well and did not hurt the series in my eyes.

In the end, I would have to recommend Kenichi to any anime fan that loves action/comedy series. It has a solid story that does not let you down.

Great characters and character progression.
Exciting action scenes.
The show will make you laugh at its random antics.
Excellent dub, although I wish they could have done a better job with one of the later characters (Sigfried's lines weren't the best, but I understand how tough it was to write).

The show is considered to be an echi series, so fan service may or may not be a con for some people; the ridiculous boob proportion is the only thing that really bugged me.

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