Netflix has been growing its anime library, with both original and syndicated works. One of the latest being the adaptation of Kengan Ashura. A martial arts series that rides the line between reality and fantasy. What is it and where does it rank amongst other anime?
Kengan Ashura is adapted from the manga series of the same name. The series is set in modern-day Japan. There the major companies from Japan have a unique way of settling disputes and negotiating with each other. Each company hires a martial artist and the winner of these underground fights wins the settlement. All of these companies must abide by the rules of the Kengan Association that governs the fights.
The series has 2 main characters for the audience to follow. The first is Kazuo Yamashita who is the average, run of the mill older office worker. Kazuo acts as the audience in the series as he gets trusted in the Kegan world by the president of the company he works for (Hideki Nogi). He is empathetic for the fighters and is just trying to adjust to the craziness of the whole situation.
The other is Ohma Tokita who is an athletic man that loves to fight. He wants to fight in Kengan matches to prove his strength to himself. Through Ohma the audience is offered a fighters insight to the various matches.
Eventually, President Nogi purposes a Kengan Tournament with the position of Chairman for the Kengan Association as the prize. This is the bulk of the series, as Kazuo becomes an (unwilling) president of a company under the guidance from President Nogi. This is to better Nogi’s odds of becoming the chairman.
Now, how does it stack up when compared to shows like Dragonball Z and Baki The Grappler? Well, it’s slightly more grounded in reality. While it does take some liberties with the sheer size and capabilities in the fighters. The show also displays sheer respect for combat sports and martial arts. There’s no real ultimate style that is displayed. Every fighting style or character’s ability is grounded in reality. Then the show takes creative liberties by taking it to the border of extreme.
But all of this creates a unique anime experience for viewers. It’s not overly gory like Fist of the North Star, but rather like a UFC match. In fact that’s who I would say the audience is. It’s for an adult audience that likes to watch martial arts. The plot is not overly complicated, and the interaction between the characters feels natural. With my favorite character being Jerry Tyson. An Africian American who moved to China and studied Chinese Wushu. This being the fighting style that has forms based on animals. But Tyson realised why base fighting styles on animals that man kills. So he creates his own Wushu style that’s based weapon systems.
The only negative I have is that it’s currently only one season that’s 12 episode. So by the time the 12th episode ends you want more. So it’s not a true negative. This anime offers a unique story, with interesting characters, and excellent animation. While Netflix has yet to announce when the second season will be aired, I have no doubt that this series will get a second season and is worth checking out. I give Kengan Ashura a 4.5 out of 5. I will finish by putting the ending credits song which I think might be my new favorite song.