For us who live in the 21st century, the world – as crazy as it gets sometimes – is enjoying a state of unprecedented peace. However, we as people are still quite strangely enchanted by violence. We see this in the success of sports like MMA (Mixed Martial Arts), video games, movies, and other viewables that capitalise on this primal connection. Kengan Ashura is looking to do the same.
The Brief History
Kengan Ashura was originally a web manga series written by Yabako Sandrovic, and illustrated by Daromeon. Under Shogakukan’s publishing, the manga series went as far as 27 volumes (with one extra) from April 2012 to August 2018.
The Netflix licensed series that brought the sketches to life in July 2019 was a product of Larx Entertainment, and was produced under the directorship of Seiji Kishi.
In the business world that we know, negotiating skills usually play a key role in securing a deal. However, the Kengan Ashura world is rather different.
As the story is geared towards hand to hand combat, there aren’t many intricacies. Here businessmen hire gladiators to compete in brutal 1-on-1 fights known as “Kengan” matches. The main character, Tokita “Ashura” Ohma is one such gladiator.
He enters the world Kengan tournaments after devastating a Kengan fighter during a vicious street fight. His victory wins him the attention of Nogi group CEO, who head hunts him to fight on behalf of the corporation. Crushing his opponents fight after fight, his strength and skills as a fighter earn him a spot in the big league.
Having been invited to the Kengan annihilation tournament – hosted by the Japan’s biggest corporates, Tokita now tests himself against the best fighters for a chance to win the seat of chairman of the Kengan Associatin, while a mysterious past keeps creeping up on him.
The story focuses a lot on the fighting, so there are no sudden twists. As interesting as they can be in other contexts, the simplicity works very well for Kengan Ashura.
The fighting itself is pure, with no power ups, or energy beams. However, this is still anime, so exaggeration remains a key feature – with brilliant still shots that keep explanatory moments captivating.
The choreography the weaves together the fight scenes is magically fluid and detailed, never feeling too over or under done at any point. It emphasises what Kengan Ashura is, a martial arts themed anime.
The first bit of bad news is for the “purists”. The creators of the Kengan Ashura anime series have opted to make use of technological advances like CGI. The truth of the matter is that they might have made very good use of it, as the flow of the visuals is very clean.
Another point that some viewers might not agree with is the character development. Though not completely void of it, some Kengan Ashura characters could have been assisted by a tad bit more of it.