Posts Tagged ‘HSDK’

History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 408

December 4, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by aegon-rokudo and FANtomCore]

Pretty tame cover page compared to what we’ve been getting. That’s an up note for this chapter, right? There’s at least one. I can approach the rest of the chapter knowing that. The bit of exposition we’re given for how they got out of a U.S. army base fits with the things we’ve seen before. Ryouzanpaku calling in favors from all over the world is nothing new.

Well, it’s been a while now, but I still feel as though Apachai should be dead. I love the character, he’s definitely my favorite of the masters. However, I cannot accept the fact that we were so built up towards his death, and now seeing him struggling on the airplane while gravely wounded just seems like salt being rubbed into the wound. The comedy of Akisame being a miracle doctor is normally welcomed when he’s resurrecting Kenichi from some training from hell, but in this context I can’t find it funny.

Kenichi himself is still a good character, and it was funny to see him try to get up and then collapse because he was told that he was badly injured. His fight with Koukin was good, and historically I like the post-fight cooldowns Kenichi has been given. It’s slightly ruined this time with the interplay between Kenichi and Apachai, and I definitely have some issues with using Apachai’s “final words” as a joke on the fact that he’s still alive.

Thank you, Overly Obvious Girl!

I should note that the fanservice this chapter has been completely and utterly acceptable. It’s still there, but only because the females of HSDK are fanservice by their very nature. There’s no gratuitous amounts of chest showing, no downright blatant camera angles, no torn clothing. This time, it isn’t just because there are no females present. They’re present, and not being used for it. Despite everything that’s happened with the plot, I find myself somewhat fond of this chapter for this reason alone.

The sub-plot going along with Niijima finding that data is pretty interesting. We’re approaching the main plot to the story here, and the war with Yami seems to be developing as well. I think we’re overdue for meeting some more members of Yomi, the satsujinken disciple division. Also way past due is finding out more about Miu’s father. All we know now is that he killed her mother, and that he seems to be a  silhouette. His disciple is one of the more interesting disciples we’ve met, which is undoubtedly on purpose. There’s so much we should be finding out, that any plot advancement is welcome.

Niijima is more taxing than a knee to the ribs

Hermit shows up, which is interesting, given he’s now a member of Yomi. Niijima is on to him, but not enough for anything to come out into the open just yet. I like the idea of him sticking around the main group of good guys while secretly being in the enemy group, it adds an element of suspense to everything.

With little left to say, the Elder timely moves everyone out to give Kenichi rest, and when he wakes up, surprise. Suddenly police cars are everywhere, and Ryouzanpaku is taped off. Shocking twist!

He just read chapter 407

Final Flash: An okay chapter with acceptable levels of fanservice, but still severely hurting from coming off last chapter.

History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 407

November 21, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by Binktopia]

Not a very convincing start of the chapter. Miu herself is not a bad character. She’s capable and fairly intelligent, and has proven that up to this point she’s at least on par with Kenichi as a fighter. In fact, the last time they fought, she was still considerably stronger than Kenichi. That said, having her serve as nothing but base fanservice cheapens her character beyond belief. It’s a bad omen for the rest of the chapter.

Forget that, what about our eyes?

The scenes with Apachai continue to be powerful, particularly with the way the point of view is being done. The shot of Apachai standing like a giant, his massive back presented to us, really gives you a feel of the enormity of the character. The parting words between Apachai and Agaard are fitting and welcome, just a confirmation of the victory that the Katsujinken has won. It’s time for Apachai to go.

What follows is the most unwelcome page I’ve ever read. I had my worries when Sakaki showed up while Apachai was still standing, but when Ma and Akisame show up, they’re confirmed. Apachai isn’t dead. He’s going to be fine. Every single bit of emotional impact we’ve received from everything going on has essentially been for nothing. A complete victory for the side of good, because with the two medically trained masters present, I have no doubt Apachai will be fine.

I can’t even begin to stress how much of a disappointment this chapter was. HSDK had the chance to do something real with the plot, something that would introduce a new element to the story, and change things forever. Instead, it opted for the easy way out of the situation. Nothing has changed, and in the bargain, pages upon pages of “death scenes” have been made ridiculous and embarrassing. Shigure shows up and there’s some more ridiculous fanservice, but I couldn’t even be bothered to find it offensive at this point. Something like fanservice couldn’t possibly be as insulting as having the past five chapters made meaningless.

Better female character than what we're stuck with

Final Flash: This chapter was utter garbage by default. I’m completely disappointed in it, and I don’t know what the series going to have to do for me to enjoy it with no reservations. Every step forward is followed by two steps back.

History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 406

November 12, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by Binktopia]

I don’t think Apachai has ever looked more imposing or dangerous than he does now. The eyes are being used to showcase his current state, and they’re blazing with light. Consider this “fight” over before it has begun, folks.

Protector of Children

The whole dialogue about how Apachai gained his strength, and the small flashback, were both handled very well. Not only did Apachai have the strength to disable Agaard for two whole days without killing him, but he has enough left to defend his disciple to the very end. Very well done, and if anyone had any doubts remaining about who came out on top in the fight between masters, this should settle it.

Once again an excellent use of white space, breaking through the sword and through the weapon user’s face, also. This page and the one following it relate force through artwork, something which is tough to do well. You can feel the impact of the blow, and you can tell that the force is something out of this world.

Out of nowhere, four straight pages of some of the most gratuitous fanservice I’ve seen in Kenichi, and that’s saying something. I don’t understand what’s happening, and at this point I really hope this is an issue introduced by the editorial staff and not the mangaka. I understand that sex sells, but this is cheapening key moments of plot and distracting from the focus of the story. I want to be able to recommend Kenichi to people without an asterisk commenting on the fanservice.

I had to separate myself from those pages so I could appreciate the final page of the chapter, but it does its job well. No one following this manga wants to see Apachai go, but his exit has been handled exceptionally well, and at this point I would consider it an insult for him to survive this storyline. Based on what respect I have for Matsuena-sensei, I take this as his farewell, and it is fitting.

Heart-wrenchingly delicious

Final Flash: A well-handled end for a beloved character, marred by a few pages of very shameless fanservice.

History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 405

November 3, 2010 1 comment
[scanlation by Binktopia]

Kenichi has won, but everyone present is so worn out and beaten up that every fighter is just laying on the ground. That is, everyone is down until the entrance of the same Weapon Division Yami member that we saw in the arc to save Freya’s grandfather, the staff-master. Kenichi had a scrape with him in the past, and it looks like he’s about to test himself against a master class again.

Exhibit A: How to trigger your own death flag

This guy is an evil bastard, and he’s going to get the stuffing knocked out of him very soon.

A hugely appropriate and well-done response from Kenichi. The whole page is used to great effect in displaying his anger. Again with the intense eyes, as well. Matsuena definitely has a trademark.

Agaard Jum Sai is doing his best to protect Kenichi, even though Apachai’s finishing blow has left him unable to even lift a finger for 48 hours. We know not everyone in Yami is outright evil, some of them merely believe martial arts are the art of killing. Agaard seems to be one of the “good guys” on the “bad guys” side.

The scenes of Kenichi fighting while Agaard yells orders give credence to the theory that if Apachai has died the final death, Kenichi could have already found a new Muay Thai teacher. Agaard tossing the pebble with his mouth is a final desperate act to save a disciple, but it doesn’t look like it will save Kenichi. All of the sudden, the ground splits open. Who’s here to the rescue?

This hand of mine glows with an awesome power

All jokes aside, the final two pages of this chapter are nothing less than the two most impactful moments I’ve ever read within this series. I was stunned, excited, and a whole mix of other emotions as I finished this. Next week can’t come quickly enough.

Final Flash: Pure excellence, regardless of the fact it presents a possibility that Apachai could be able to recover.

History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 404

October 25, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by Binktopia]

Straight into the action, and Kenichi fully intends to make good on his promise of using Muay Thai to finish this. The art is doing an excellent job of relating how beat up both fights are. The blood and bruises work with the ragged, torn clothing so well that you can nearly feel the wear on both Kenichi and Koukin.

This chapter is doing some great work with technical martial arts that we haven’t seen in a while. Fights like this are what I’ve been missing: pure martial arts with a minimal amount of text.

Koukin has the upper hand, as well he should. Kenichi beating him on technical merit in Muay Thai would be out of character. What Kenichi pulls out to turn the tides, however, is an excellent move. Master eyes! Certainly Kenichi isn’t a master, but he’s channeling Apachai so faithfully that he’s mirrored his eyes.

But do they shoot lasers?

A tiny flashback to set up the fact this is an Apachai move. Something as basic as putting all your strength into an uppercut is befitting of Apachai, and Kenichi should have that down pretty well — after all, he gets sent flying by it every other day. (Good job, now dodge!)

Agaard speaking out during the match is a huge taboo. The manga goes so far as to have Agaard thinking about how it was a mistake to do so, and a reaction panel of silence from Koukin. There has to be something that will happen as a result of this, it simply has too much focus. All that said, the CHAI-KICK is excellent, and the stark whiteness used for the attack makes it seem devastating.

Everything but his hair is gone!

A nice bit of closure to the fight. I’m ready to wind down and feel the implications from this. Apachai seems to have died the permanent kind of death, but we’ll see. Also, if this whole ordeal hasn’t left a mark on Kenichi’s character and evolution, I will be incredibly disappointed.

Final Flash: The past two chapters were a return to form for HSDK, and everything that we originally wanted out of this arc. It’s a shame they came so late, but that doesn’t lessen the quality they present.

History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 403

October 21, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by Binktopia]

Cover page of fanservice. At this point, I guess it needs to be featured as prominently as possible. What better way than the cover.

As usual, HSDK does a great job of relating to a reader the feel of power behind the large clashes of the fighters. The destruction of the floor and the stylized beams shooting through Koukin are perfect examples.

Koruinuki didn’t connect cleanly; they traded blows. This is a little played out, and removes a clean win that Kenichi sorely deserved.

Guaranteed to feel that in the morning

I really feel like this sequence of events would have done better if related by the art, as opposed to Agaard Jum Sai narrating everything while lying face against the ground. It’s a little ridiculous, but okay. Following his rant, however, Kenichi takes a turn at bat. It shows character progression that Kenichi can spot when his opponent is bluffing now, but did he really need to take three pages and a few bubbles of inner monologue to do so? I think the art related just fine that they both took a hit.

Kenichi is showing the resolve we know he has. Excellent intensity in his eyes when he stares Koukin down and questions his reason for fighting. It’s a great move to have them finish it both using Muay Thai, and a completely in-character choice for Kenichi to honor Apachai as a master. However, I don’t like that the series seems to be adopting a theme of letting Koukin get off with an honorable loss.

Does this look like the face of a bad guy to you?

They’re going to finish it off with one final exchange, in what I would call a very traditional fashion. It’s a fitting end, but all the animosity between the two combatants has been removed. Kenichi, please try not to forget that Apachai is still lying ten feet from you with a hole through his chest. You were ready to dismantle Koukin. What happened?

Final Flash: One page of fanservice is a deal I’ll take every time. I can only hope this fight ends in a satisfying manner next chapter after this chapter worked to make Koukin’s character seem so much lighter and less imposing.

History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 398

September 17, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by Keishou Scans]

Decent Shonen Sunday cover page, but awful color pages. Fanservice (and borderline nudity) this gratuitous is uncalled for. Worse still is the fact that the color pages have no connection to the rest of the chapter. That’s basically an admittance of pandering from Matsuena.

Kenichi’s counter to Yan Erawan, which had previously “killed” him, is exactly the kind of martial arts exchange I’ve wanted. Discounting the color pages, this is an excellent start to the chapter.

The way Matsuena draws Kenichi’s eyes never gets old. I can’t remember any other manga character with such pure intensity shown through his or her eyes alone.

But are they Mystic Eyes?

Tirawit shows some fantastic martial arts skill, and even taunts Kenichi properly, but name-dropping Kanou Shou only reminds me how much more interesting of an opponent Kanou was. Tirawit may well be a stronger fighter, but Kanou had the underlying plot to round out his character.

The masters believe their battle will end first. That would bode well for some great development out of Kenichi, who finally seems poised for a sharp improvement.

Final Flash: Insulting color pages aside, this was a great chapter. This kind of fighting is what this arc should have featured all along.

History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 397

September 9, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by Keishou Scans]

Tirawit taunting Kenichi is great, because Kenichi breaking out of his shell and going fully on the offensive is exactly what this fight needs.

Agaard’s observations on Kenichi are setting up the fight extremely well. It’s such a pity that the preceding fights and flashback have put such a gap between Kenichi’s “death” and this fight. The impact of Kenichi’s mindset and Agaard’s understanding of it is slightly lessened because those events aren’t fresh in the memory anymore.

Regardless of the placement of the Apachai/Agaard flashback, the benefit is being felt now, particularly in the scene where Agaard thanks Kenichi.

Good mid-fight moment

The two-page spread of all four fighters is nice, but the time for posing and talking is long over. This fight needs the technical precision and insight that made Kenichi what it is.

A little more talking and a few moves from each side, but ultimately the chapter ends without serious martial arts exchanges.

Final Flash: Drastic improvement over the last several chapters, but still not up to the level that a main event fight warrants. Hopefully, next week (Sunday cover page) and the following two weeks (color pages each week) will live up to expectations.

History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 396

September 6, 2010 Leave a comment
[scanlation by Keishou Scans]

Even more flashback. Granted, we haven’t had the requisite “heel turn” from Agaard yet, but this is taking forever.

Happy-go-lucky Apachai is still amusing, but I still can’t bring myself to enjoy any of this, knowing what I should be reading instead.

The friendliest Muay Thai killing machine

Agaard is back, and suddenly, he’s killing people. So, he’s evil now, but why?

Evidently, it’s because he found Yami. That’s disappointingly straightforward, to the point where this flashback is not only out of place, it’s also completely unnecessary.

Agaard invades the underground Muay Thai headquarters, and Apachai goes off to… be a good guy.

Finally, the flashback is over. Unfortunately, Apachai’s statement about Kenichi being his strength seems like it will need to be explained, which would mean even more time-wasting before the fight resumes.

Final Flash: Another wasted chapter, and one that cements my disdain for the last two.

History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 395

[scanlation by Keishou Scans]

More flashback. I might as well give up any excitement for the present-time fights that are happening. Evidently Matsuena doesn’t care about them.

If anything, this flashback is weakening Apachai’s character with relation to his fight against Agaard. Apachai has been shown at maximum intensity for so many chapters, and now suddenly we’re seeing him as an excited child. This flashback should have happened months ago.


Agaard is throwing the match for the sake of poor little Apachai. Terrible.

The new champ is dead on his feet. That’s not a bad moment, but the placement is all wrong. I almost care more about Agaard than Apachai now.

Final Flash: The potential positives aren’t enough to make up for the blatant negatives anymore. This arc is bad.

History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 394

[scanlation by Keishou Scans]

Yes, yes. Ni hao, fanservice cover girl.

Wait a minute, I’m confused. This looks like fighting, but it can’t possibly be fighting. This isn’t a fighting series anymore. Where are the stupidly-proportioned ladies with skin-tight suits or no clothes at all?

In all seriousness, we’ve finally arrived at some real action. It’s still too bad that both fights are happening simultaneously, though.

I can think of few things more painful

A flashback? What’s wrong with just showing the fight, already? Any flashbacks should have been shown weeks ago.

Agaard used to look after Apachai. Okay, point taken. Back to the action, please.

Instead, the rest of the chapter is more of the flashback. It’s a tremendous improvement over the last several chapters, and the part about the “cat” was particularly funny, but this still isn’t up to the existing standard of the series. How much longer must we wait before Apachai/Agaard gets the same treatment and spotlight that all the other notable Kenichi fights did?

Final Flash: Calling this chapter “better than the last few weeks” isn’t much of a compliment, but it’s a step in the right direction.

History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 393

[scanlation by Keishou Scans]

No, I haven’t forgotten that Miu has breasts. Feel free to stop reminding me at every possibly opportunity.

Still more Miu action and Niijima comedy. With appropriate respect to each character (some to the former, little to the latter), this is completely irrelevant and uninteresting when the Kenichi / Koukin fight is underway.

If Miu is fighting all these people right outside the control room, why can’t Akisame come outside and speed things up?

While Niijima comedy has grown tiresome, Akisame comedy is still acceptable.

Let's play Oregon Trail

All the while, Kenichi and Koukin have been fighting, and we haven’t seen it. Worse still, Apachai and Agaard Jum Sai are beginning their fight now. All the inane comedy fights have had individual spotlight, but the two long-awaited fights that have been the driving force behind this arc are going to split time? This is a huge disappointment.

Final Flash: I’m losing what remaining faith I had that this arc will be redeemed by the main event fights.

History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 392

[scanlation by Keishou Scans]

The cover page is promising. The weeks of fanservice and disappointment will become an unfortunate but distant memory if this and the Apachai fight are good.

Frankly, I don’t care at all about Niijima right now. Enough with the idiocy.

Evidently Matsuena feels we need even more Niijima, instead of a serious fight. This entire arc has been one big tease.

Not only does a blackout interrupt the start of the fight, but Kenichi’s cell phone is ringing? This is painful.

No fighting, inane Niijima moments, and Matsuena reminding us what apparently matters most in Kenichi these days:

Hint: It isn't the dialogue

A brief moment of action from Miu, but it feels more like an excuse to show off her body rather than show the audience some martial arts.

Final Flash: Complete waste of a chapter. These upcoming fights better be excellent to compensate for the low quality of the last several weeks.

History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 391

[scanlation by Keishou Scans]

Finally, Sakaki. By default, this should be an improvement from last chapter.

Truly impressive display from a brand new character. Sakaki might not be in a tight spot, but he isn’t winning handily, either.

Sakaki is just the type to allow himself to be hit in order to strike the decisive blow… although his method here is a little ridiculous, frankly.

Next time, pull both your legs into your rib cage

Final Flash: Good short fight. Nice to have another quick chapter, paving the way for the main event beginning next week.

History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi 390

[chapter link]

Fanservice on the cover aside, what’s wrong with her head? It looks like it isn’t centered properly on her neck. Or maybe it’s too big? Something’s wrong.

Speaking of fanservice, it’s a Ma fight. I guess I can’t complain too much.


Ma neatly folding the stolen clothing is actually quite funny.

I take it back. I can complain too much. This isn’t an acceptable level of fanservice, even for a Ma fight. This is hentai. I have nothing against hentai, but there’s a time and place for it. Shonen Sunday is not the place.

As a direct result of this unabashed nudity, it’s impossible to take Ma’s impassioned speech seriously.

A dominating victory for Ma is what I originally wanted, but it’s been completely cheapened.

Final Flash: If I wanted to read hentai, I would. Don’t bring it into shonen.