''Souten Kouro'' is a manga written by Hagin Yi and drawn by King Gonta, based on the ''Sanguozhi'', a chronicle of the Three Kingdoms period. Unlike Yokoyama Mitsuteru's [[Anime/RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms Romance of the Three Kingdoms]], it portrays Cao Cao Mengde as the hero. It lasted for 409 chapters (published in 36 volumes), even after the writer [[AuthorExistenceFailure died]].

Adapted into a 26-episode anime by {{Creator/Madhouse}} in 2009, starring Creator/MamoruMiyano as Cao Cao.

!!Provides examples of:

* AntiHero: Cao Cao.
* AntiVillain: Liu Bei, who although definitely not the KnightInShiningArmour of his ''RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms'' incarnation still seems pretty good-natured overall.
** Based on the scene where he meets Guan Yu (only to end up getting Guan Yu and Zhang Fei to join him), and then the later scene where [[spoiler:he realizes he has no idea ''how'' to actually rule]], his motivation is to conquer the world "to see the people's smiles"...
* BadassGrandpa: Cao Teng, Cao Cao's adoptive grandfather. He's a sweet old eunuch, but is known to sell official position at ten times the normal price. What really defines him as a badass is [[spoiler: his visit to the Emperor in chapter 16, where he indirectly accuses Zhang Rang (without naming him) of being [[DirtyOldMan surrounded with women]] and having [[ImAManICantHelpIt too much sexual desire ''because'' of his castration]]. When the Emperor recommends that the perpetrator, whoever he is, be banished, Cao Teng outright recommends ''hanging'' him. Bonus points for Zhang Rang being right next to the Emperor. Right after that, Cao Teng bluntly tells Zhang Rang in private that he will follow Cao Cao in Hell should anything bad happen.]]
* BloodKnight: Lu Bu (not surprisingly) to such a degree that Cao Cao ends up commenting on it but is also able to exploit against Lu Bu, i.e. using himself as bait to lure Lu Bu into a valley, with an ambush set to destroy the troops diverted to support Lu Bu's pursuit.
* CallBack: Liu Bei's sword dance in front of Cao Cao was suspiciously similar to the latter's in front of Zhang Rang many chapters previously.
* ChasteHero: Averted by Cao Cao. See GoodPeopleHaveGoodSex.
** His arch-rival Liu Bei is a {{Bishonen}} womanizer as well.
* CleanCut: Averted by Cao Cao. He's still a child, so the sword only goes halfway through the thug's neck. He proceeds to finish him off by jumping on the sword and making the thug's head fly off. ''Dang''.
* DeadlyDecadentCourt: Cao Cao is no slouch in court intrigue (that's why he lives past the first 30 chapters or so), yet ultimately prevalent corruption of Han court smothers all of his efforts.
* DudeLooksLikeALady: Zhuge Liang.
* EunuchsAreEvil: Zhang Rang and the rest of the Ten Attendants.
* FangsAreEvil: Thugs have a mouth full of them. Subverted when [[spoiler: the Blast Gang joins Cao Cao]].
* GentleGiant: Xu Chu. He does attempt to kill Cao Cao with a bronze bell, but he ''is'' good-natured and helps at a monastery.
* GirlOnGirlIsHot: Played straight by Zhang Rang. The fact that he [[spoiler: joins by probing Shui Jing's ass with a huge wooden dildo in the meantime]] is {{squick}} to say the least
* GivingSomeoneThePointerFinger: "Do you still not believe in Cao Cao Mengde's finger?"
* GoodIsNotDumb: Cao Cao is serious about upholding the law, but he's not LawfulStupid and knows a set-up when he sees it in his tenure as North ''Buwei'' of Luoyang (chief of police for the capital city's northern gate) in Chapter 24.
* GoodPeopleHaveGoodSex: Cao Cao. The catch is that he first had sex aged 13 and that by the time he turned 16, he had had sex with ''seven'' prostitutes. And they liked it.
* GratuitousItalian: Amore
** [[FridgeLogic Even though at the time of Three Kingdoms China they'd still have been speaking Latin, not modern Italian.]] [[hottip:*:Technically, 'amore' ''is'' a Latin word, but it's the ablative case of 'amor', the actual Latin word for 'love', and thus would roughly translate as 'by love' or 'with love'.]]
* HistoricalHeroUpgrade: Arguably Cao Cao. We here at [=TVTropes=] are quite sure 10-year old kids didn't decapitate thieves back in the day.
** Chapter 39 actually makes him the guy behind the banners declaring "Blue Heaven Already Dead" -- which in this story push Zhang Jiao from being ''against'' rebellion to leading the Yellow Turbans Rebellion, and thus Cao Cao is the one directly responsible for the event of the Three Kingdoms story.
* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: Zhang Rang, leader of the 10 eunuchs. He manages [[spoiler: to rape Shui Jing despite not having the necessary instrument]]
** Likewise, Dong Zhuo is a major antagonist who was identified as the eventual despot by the child Xun Yu ''years before the Yellow Turbans Rebellion'', and is himself a solidly-muscled man able to literally break down a wall with a hail of arrows, evade [[spoiler:Diao Chan]]'s assassination scheme, and immediately realize that [[spoiler:the imperial edict for his execution was ''not'' by his puppet Emperor's own volition]]. Finally, in the anime (though not the manga) [[spoiler:he goes down fighting, being the only person in the series besides Guan Yu to hold his own against Lu Bu in single combat until he's surprised by multiple spearmen, then has the misfortune of his sword breaking under Lu Bu's]].
* IdiotSavant: Xu Chu can predict the weather based on the moon's phases. Xu Chu doesn't know that there's only one moon.
* IHaveYouNowMyPretty: Played straight with Zhang Rang and [[spoiler: Shui Jing]].
* NoHoldsBarredBeatdown: Applied by the thug in chapter 2 to Cao Cao. Who is ''ten''. Cao Cao does get even, though.
* TalkingTheMonsterToDeath: Subverted. Cao Cao has a whole debate with Li Lie and defeats him with rhetoric... which buys Xu Chu enough time to come and blow his brains out.
* WellIntentionedExtremist: Both Cao Cao and Liu Bei ultimately strive to save the country, both don't mind the fact that they need to kill quite a few people to do so. After all, they'd ''both'' been leading armed forces before the events of the Yellow Turbans Rebellion, Cao Cao the Blast Gang (in addition to Xiahou Dun's own force) and Liu Bei the Demon Pouch.
* WouldntHurtAChild: Averted by the thief from chapter 2. He ''really'' didn't like Cao Cao staring at him.