So many manga and anime series are about becoming better fighters. Whether it’s Dragonball Z, Bleach, Naruto, or whatever, they take fighting very seriously — but even more esoteric anime and manga can be guilty of obsessing over their subjects to the point of insanity. Here are nine series that take certain subjects way too far.
1) The Prince of Tennis
One of the most common types of boy-targeted anime and manga is the sports series. The Prince of Tennis is a perfect example: Ryoma Echizen is a young tennis prodigy who attends a private school with a renown tennis club, so you’d expect most of the students to be tennis obsessed anyways, right? But somehow, the entire world has the same tennis obsession as these kids, as evidenced when the loner Ryoma heads to a bookstore to buy a book on how to play doubles. Not only the staff laughs at his ignorance, but the rest of the store’s customers do, too. Also, the players actually defeat a bear with their tennis skills. Admittedly, the bear was a burglar in disguise, but that honestly doesn’t make it any less insane.
2) Hikaru no Go
Compared to The Prince of Tennis, Hikaru no Go is actually pretty sensible. Of course, it does star a young boy named Hikaru who gets possessed by the ghost of an ancient Go master whose desire to play the game forces Hikaru into the world of competitive Go. Obviously, Hikaru slowly gets into the game and wants to be the best, etc., so it’s all he ever talks and thinks about. As he gets better, he starts playing three games at once, and then blindfolded. When he sees someone cheat at Go he reacts as if someone clubbed a baby seal right in front of him. And for most players, watching someone play a game — even online — is like seeing a fingerprint, allowing them to deduce the identity of anyone they’ve seen play, which gets Hikaru and his ghost in trouble on more than one occasion. The best part is that since Hikaru no Go is a shonen series, it’s also supposed to be an action series; I guarantee you’ve never seen anyone place a small stone on a board more dramatically than the cast of Hikaru no Go.
3) Air Gear
In the world of Air Gear, Air Trecks — basically rollerblades that propel themselves — are so popular they’ve somehow inspired various gangs to have rollerblade-based fights with each other. These are so prevalent, a special division of the police has been formed, devoted to Air Treck-related crimes. That’s not nearly as insane as the fact that there are apparently eight different “styles” of Air-Trecking, and each master of each style has a certain special Air Treck part, which when combined with the others makes the world’s greatest pair of Air Trecks. Eventually, the Air Treck wars get so violent and important that President Obama joins in, personally… although, as you might expect, he has accidentally switched minds with a Japanese schoolgirl.
You may be aware that Duel Monsters, the card game played by the characters of Yu-Gi-Oh, has some sort of mystical property, that the cards represent actual monsters, and that the game is based on something the ancient Egyptians played. But did you know that the entire modern world revolves around a game played primarily by children? There are whole schools devoted to teaching the game. The game has branches of science and mathematics devoted solely to it. Military forces are used to guard the most important, powerful cards. By the time the third Yu-Gi-Oh series rolls around, Yu-Gi-Oh 5D, the game has created a class system that encompasses the entire world and the justice system has been replaced by the game. The children’s card game.
On the flipside of Yu-Gi-Oh, Bartender is a simple tale of a man named Ryu Sasakura. Bartender takes place in the real world, in the sense that society is not based solely on booze (well, at least not any more than it currently is). On the other hand, Ryu is so good at bartending he’s practically a wizard. His incredible ability to size up a customer, mix a drink, and also determine the drink the customer needs regardless of what he/she orders is staggeringly insane. Things Ryu’s drinks have been able to accomplish: make people remember things, forget things, return them from the brink of despair, solve writer’s blocks, save marriages — just for starters.
6) Eyeshield 21
While futbol is pretty popular in Japan, American football is pretty unknown. However, that didn’t stop someone from making a shonen sports series on the subject, where a suspiciously high amount of Japanese high schools seem to have teams. While the football played in the manga/anime is so comically violent as to make American pro football players wince, the real insanity is the training that the protagonists’ team the Deimon Devil Bats are put through by their insane coach Hiruma. He rents the Tokyo Tower (Tokyo’s copy of the Eiffel) and forces his players to run up it while holding an ice cube — if it melts, they have to start over, and Hiruma’s rigged the tower with many fire traps. He calls out a hit on his own player to force him to run for his life and build up stamina. And this isn’t even counting the “Death March” across Texas in which actual firearms are used.
7) Yakitate!! Japan
Can young Kazuma Azuma become the best breadmaker in Japan? Who the hell cares? Well, the baking-obsessed cast of Yakitate!! Japan, for starters. Kazuma works for the Pantasia bakery and has (I am not making this up) “solar hands” — hands that are warmer than usual, which allow the dough he kneads to ferment faster; his dream is to create a bread for the nation of Japan that will be as iconic as the French baguette. Admittedly, Yakitate does lampoon the “super serious” type of anime and manga series, as it even includes bread-baking tournaments which are fought as fiercely as any martial arts tournament in any other shonen series. These tournaments are often fought Iron Chef style, meaning Kazuma must use special ingredients and/or certain themes; breads created in the series include sea urchin bread, mango waffles, cannabis donuts, bread with snapper turtle blood, and so many more.
8) The Legend of Koizumi
The Legend of Koizumi is, without a doubt, pure comedy. That doesn’t change the fact that it’s about former Japanese prime minister Junichiro Koizumi saving Japan, and sometimes the world, through the game of Mah Jong. Not only does Koizumi have to battle members of Japan’s other political parties for the integrity of the country, but other people he fights in the manga include: George W. Bush, Vladimir Putin, the president of China, George H.W. Bush, Margaret Thatcher, Kim Jung-Il, the Pope, the ghosts of Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelet and Josef Stalin, and more. Koizumi eventually makes the ultimate sacrifice and defeats Adolf Hitler and his Fourth Reich on the moon. THROUGH MAH JONG.
Based on a series of light novels, Ben-To is about a war — a war to get half-priced bento box lunches at convenience stores. It’s not even presented as a sport as much as it’s an all-out brawl to get a discounted meal. There are actually rules for the fights, albeit unspoken ones — fighters have to wait until the manager who puts the half-price stickers on the bentos heads back to his break room, fighters must only take one bento box, once a fighter has a bento he can no longer be fought, and by no means should anyone ever do anything to spill the contents of a bento box. But other than that, nothing is really off limits in this glorious, daily fight to save up to $3.