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Manga: Holyland
Kamishiro Yuu

Holyland is a fairly realistic martial arts-based series with footnotes on how any used or subverted trope fits in with how martial arts really work.

Meet Kamishiro Yuu, a young high school student who was bullied during middle school. The harassment gets to the point he stops going to school and starts secretly training to fight. A year later, disconnected from life around him, he has taken to roaming the streets looking for a place to belong.

He unleashes his secret left-right combo on random street thugs and in doing so gains a reputation as a thug hunter. He ends up fighting increasingly strong opponents as everyone wants to test his skill. Though the series deals a little with the reality of gang violence, people beaten into comas are usually out of the hospital in a few chapters.

Complete at 182 chapters in 18 volumes in Japan. The series was adapted into a Live-Action TV Drama in 2005, 13 episodes were made; it aired at late-night fridays in Japan, on TV Tokyo. Another Korean live adaptation was made in 2012 starring Shin Dongho of K-Pop group U-KISS as "Kang Yoo".

This work provides example of:

  • Acrofatic: Iwado. Notes mention how most people underestimate the speed of judoka.
  • Adults Are Useless: A major theme in the series. The teenage characters live in a total alien world to adults; the night streets, the fighting, their Holyland, adults make no part of it and the teens don't miss their company.
  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Yuu in chapter 88
  • Almighty Janitor: Many gangsters who know karate won't take the black belt test even if they can fight at that level. Justified as having a black belt gives police more ammunition against them.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Lots of them all around, especially the actual martial artists who start taking over for the delinquents.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Where to aim for on humans to do this is mentioned from time to time.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: Chapter 168 explains that the ability to "read" an enemy is the real source of Masaki's ability, more than any of his physical prowess.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses:
    • Masaki and Tsuchiya in chapter 152.
    • Yuu and Shougo in chapter 164.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Mostly played straight in that villains who look physically ugly are a lot more likely to be Jerkasses (and generally don't get Sympathy for the Devil moments) compared to villains who look more normal.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: No matter how many fights he's been in and how many times he's been beaten up, Yuu has yet to lose or chip a visible tooth, hasn't broken his jaw or nose or gotten any permanent scars (he gets plenty of scratches and bruises, but never any permanent ones). Averted by some of the villains, who meanwhile get these things.
  • Berserk Button: Don't hurt Yuu's friends unless you want to have the shit beaten out of you, and out of everyone you know too.
    • When he was younger, Izawa had a Berserk Button that got triggered by being taunted about running from an opponent due to his father walking out on his family.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Masaki Izawa. Tsuchiya becomes one as well later on.
    • Yuu takes on this role at the end of the manga after Masaki "graduates" from the streets to become a pro kickboxer
  • Big Damn Heroes:
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Shougo. They mostly stand out because they're not bleached, but his hair is.
  • Bland-Name Product: Wakudonalds.
  • Blood Knight: Shougo Midorikawa, the Karate user.
    • Izawa Masaki, to an extent.
    • Yuu himself appears to be headed in this direction
      • Yuu knows it, too, and swings between acceptance and fear of becoming this. More towards acceptance in later chapters.
  • Boisterous Weakling: Yagi shouts a good shout but can't back it up with his fists at all.
  • Book Ends: The series both starts and ends with a rookie entering the world of the back-alley street fighting and thug scene in the hope of finding a place he can 'belong' to. Only in the ending, the Na´ve Newcomer has the Thug Hunter still around and looking out for him.
  • Boxing Battler: Yuu starts out as this, but moves away as the story progresses and he integrates different moves into his style.
  • Broken Ace: Masaki. He is at first presented as everything Yuu is not: Calm, experienced, self-confident, an expert fighter and a martial arts prodigy in both karate and boxing, and highly respected. Eventually, his backstory reveals he's basically a two year older Yuu who went through even worse things (including a suicide attempt), came out broken and cynical, and has basically given up on trying to move forward after reaching his current slump.
  • But I Read A Book About It: Yuu first learnt boxing through a book.
  • The Cavalry: Shougo calls the police before Katou's thugs can take revenge on Yuu. Iwado in chapter 59 saving Yuu from three thugs.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: After Yuu beats Shougo, the other thugs have already started beating Yuu before the police arrive.
  • Celebrity Paradox: In chapter 182, one passerby says that Masaki looks like the actor who portrayed him in the Live-Action Adaptation.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: In chapter 170, King somehow slices a beer bottle's neck off with his bare hands.
  • The City Narrows: Where most of the street fighting takes place.
  • Clark Kent Outfit: In Later volumes when Yuu gets quite muscle bound, while in his school uniform, t-shirts or wearing long sleeve shirts his muscles are barely notable. Only in a normal shirt you can see how far his body has developed.
  • Clasp Your Hands If You Deceive: The principal in chapter 131 does this while announcing Masaki's expulsion from the boxing club.
  • Classical Anti-Hero: Yuu. The entire manga is basically about Yuu shedding his 'outsider' status and flaws in order to find a place he belongs.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Several times, the narration will point out the differences between sparring and street fighting and the no-holds-barred nature of the latter.
  • Confusion Fu: Masaki diagnoses Yuu's fighting style as this in chapter 89 - the reason why he can beat better conventionally trained foes is due to mixing styles into an unpredictable blend.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Averted as Yuu can win one-on-one duels, but usually does poorly in a target-rich environment. He has got better at it later on.
  • Cowardly Lion: This is a major part of Yuu's characterization.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: Masaki versus Yuu, the first time. Yuu genuinely did get in a seriously dangerous attack, though Shogou suspects the whole thing was a Batman Gambit on Masaki's part to give Yuu one hit.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory: When Shougo gets a headbutt from Katou he reverts to his karate training, which proves his undoing.
  • Deal with the Devil: In chapter 147 the Yazuka regular tempts Masaki with Yazuka assistance in dealing with the drug problem if he just joins up. Masaki refuses.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Iwado and Midorikawa Shougo, obviously. Also Taka and Tsuchiya seem to be going this way.
  • Delinquents: Lots. Well, just about everyone, with few exceptions.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose in Life: Yuu, which is why he started going into the streets for fights.
    • It eventually comes to light that practically all the street fighters are this way, hanging around the streets because they've got nowhere better to be. Many of the more skilled ones talk about 'graduating from the streets' and taking their skills into the realm of professional martial arts. In the end, Masaki takes this step and becomes a pro kickboxer, leaving Yuu to fill in his shoes as Big Brother Mentor to a new generation of street fighters.
  • Determinator: Yuu. Once his blood is up, he'll take beatings that do in lesser men and keep going until he wins or is definitively knocked out.
  • Diabolus Ex Machina: The ending. Yuu has beaten King and had his final showdown with Masaki, where he admits Yuu's the better fighter. Then, on the way back from his final fight in the series, Yuu is stabbed with a knife by a nobody and left to die alone in an alleyway. The final Time Skip chapter plays with whether or not he's really dead, as nobody has seen him in the interim and they Never Found the Body, until Yuu finally shows up alive in the last half.
    • With the knowledge that Yuu is alive the talk about him in this chapter could be taken in another way, i.e. Shin regrets that Yuu chose to stay on the streets instead of going pro.
  • Dirty Coward: Yagi. Pretends to be a badass gang boss, but is really this. In the latter half of the series he is so terrified of Yuu that he can only face him when hiding behind King's two MMA henchmen or when he's holding Mai hostage. When he is last seen in the manga, he pathetically begs for his life in front of an enraged Yuu (after already trying to hide from him and seeing him everywhere) before he gets his much deserved curbstomp.
  • Disappeared Dad: Izawa's father, in his back-story.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You: Masaki says this to King in chapter 140. Obviously, the villain does not listen.
  • The Dreaded: Yuu wants to become this so that bullies and gangsters will stop bothering him. It not actually working is a major recurring theme.
  • Driven to Suicide: Yuu wanted to in the backstory, but could not bring himself to actually take the step off the roof. Masaki has scars on his wrist from an attempt; we later learn that he would have successfully bled out if Mai had not walked in on him.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The story arc about the new street drug "True" is this in spades. Also, the drug trade in general throughout the series.
  • Dumb Muscle: Tsuchiya is a subversion. Initially he looks like a simple-minded wrestler, but chapter 84 reveals that he can think rather profoundly. Not super-intelligent enough to be a true Genius Bruiser though.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • The gangsters who refused to gang up on Yuu with Katou.
    • Even Ryuu, the more insane of King's two henchmen, is creeped out by Katou.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: This is one of King's flaws as mentioned in chapter 172.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Katou tries to muscle in on King's drug operation. It does not end well for him.
  • Extreme Melee Revenge: In chapter 129, some seniors pushed Masaki's Berserk Button to lure him into a trap. In chapter 131, he paid two of them back.
  • Eye Scream: Twice. Graphically. It is, after all, a series about street fighting.
  • Feel No Pain: Katou due to drugs.
  • Final Exam Finale: The fight with King demands Yuu bring to bear everything he learned throughout the series.
  • Flaw Exploitation: See Masaki's Berserk Button above? In chapter 129, some envious seniors pressed it to lure him into a trap.
  • For the Evulz:
    • Why Katou attacked Shin.
    • Averted and invoked after Izawa beats the shit out of Yoshi, who was the main antagonist for most of the series. Most characters think everything he did was for the evulz, turns out he was simply jealous of Izawa, but didn't wanted anyone to know it, so he pretended to do it for the evulz. Even when asked directly, he answered "because he's an eyesore".
    • In chapter 172 King gives "fun" as the reason why he brought his drug into town.
  • A Friend in Need: Shin is the only character who always sticks by Yuu no matter what.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Used several times throughout the series. For example, Osada and Yoshito kicked Yuu's legs until he could not use them to support his weight. Yuu later learns to use it himself.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man:
    • Masaki does this to Yuu to stop him carrying out Extreme Melee Revenge on Katou. It doesn't take. He tries again later and succeeds.
    • Shin of all people does this to Yuu in chapter 101.
  • Geo Effects: Getting brought to ground is much more painful on the street than on the mat. Also, being on soft ground like grass allows the wrestler Tsuchiya to go all out without fear of hurting himself from a whiff.
  • Gonk: Iwato, the fat Judo user, has an astoundingly round head. Later, his face is drawn differently, goofy and standing out from the rest of the art style.
    • Katou, the horrifyingly ugly junkie street boss. He doesn't depart from the art style like Iwado, but he is missing his front teeth, has a crooked nose, and his eyes are milky, and deeply strabismal.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Played with. Most fighters base their styles on some formal martial art - even Masaki's has karate as a base - and effectiveness varies.
  • Gratuitous English: The english titles for the chapters are from the original print of the manga in Japan.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Tsuchiya throws a thug at some others twice in chapter 144.
  • Groin Attack: Katou pulls this on Shougo and Yuu.
  • Handwraps of Awesome: Yuu takes to using these when he's not using his homemade pair of plastic hand guards.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Played with. Yuu is noted as being precociously talented in martial arts, despite his 'style' being a patchwork mish-mash of street fighting with some moves learned from his opponents thrown in, and defeats several people who've spent years practising their respective sport or martial art. On the other hand, Yuu works himself to the bone and tends to (initially) fare badly when facing people who both have talent and years of training.
  • Heroic BSOD: Yuu, right after Shin gets attacked. He also BSODs again several chapters later and takes a while to regain his old fighting form. Hell, Yuu before the series even starts.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Yuu struggles with the reality of turning the tables on his bullies.
  • I Am a Monster: Yuu's view of himself in chapter 101 after he loses control in a friendly boxing spar.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Yuu, often.
  • I'm Not Here to Make Friends: Masaki as a first-year in the boxing club.
  • Informed Ability: Yoshii's knife-fighting, considering that he gets demolished by an injured Masaki immediately afterwards.
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: Averted. Yuu breaks or otherwise injures his knuckles a few times and takes to wearing protective gear.
  • It's Personal: Masaki originally did not want to lead the rest of the street fighters against King, but when Yagi tried to kidnap Mai, he changed his mind.
  • Just Hit Him: Justified and subverted. Iwado is a judoka, so it makes sense that he would be better at throwing than striking. At the same time, it's shown that getting hurled into a concrete wall or onto asphalt can be as fight-ending as a good strike combo. Also inverted in the fight against Taka, where at one point Yuu closes on his foe and the narration notes that he could have ended the fight right there had he used a throw rather than trying to strike.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Masaki pretends to do this to Yuu in order to placate the watching thugs.
  • Kirk Summation: Yuu gives one in chapter 176 to counter King's attempt at a Not So Different.
  • Logical Weakness: Tsuchiya having to go low to tackle exposes his back of neck and puts his head in easy reach of kicks.
  • Malevolent Masked Man: Ryuu puts a mask on after his first fight with Yuu, for no obvious reason though.
  • Manly Tears: Yuu, Masaki, and Shougo each weep these at least once.
  • Martial Arts Do Not Work That Way: Averted. Martial arts do INDEED work that way!
  • Mistaken for Badass: Yuu is, in the eyes of the delinquents and gangsters, some fearsome hunter.
  • Mr. Exposition: Masaki, all the time. The author himself on occasion (see Painting the Medium) or any of the more experienced fighters.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Shougo experiences this, finally, after being kind of an asshole for a good eighty-plus chapters and having a beaten and bloodied Shin literally crawling in order to see him.
  • My Greatest Failure: Masaki's is begging forgiveness from thugs that he could have fought, while Yuu's is getting Shin attacked.
  • Never Bring a Knife to a Fist Fight: Masaki calmly takes on a knife-wielder and dismantles him - all without disarming him. Notes mention how blind focus on trying to wrestle away the weapon is unwise. The author does mention that fighting bare-fisted against someone with a weapon is generally unwise, Masaki is exceptional after all.
  • Not Himself: A frequent occurrence with Yuu. More experienced fighters are able to recognise when his heart is not properly in the fight, as his skill takes a corresponding drop.
  • Not So Different: Yuu comes to this conclusion about himself compared to many of the fighters he's encountered.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: King, who appeared to be just a drug trafficking boss, is quite the fighter - chapter 159 reveals he is discipled in Chinese Kenpo and even managed to strike fear in Shougo's heart.
  • Oh, Crap: In chapter 27 Yuu's old bullies have this when they realise he's Took a Level in Badass. In chapter 35 it's Shougo's turn when Katou tackles him and takes him to ground. And in Chapter 149 it's Yagi's turn after Yuu foils his attempt to kidnap Mai and attacks his car in a maddened rage.
  • One-Hit Kill: Chapter 29 mentions that the best way if forced to fight multiple opponents is to take out lesser fighters as fast as possible.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: King.
  • Only Sane Man: Tetsu, King's other MMA henchman. While also violent, he's the sane and level-headed one of the two. He even calls Ryuu out on the latter's sadism and unprofessionalism.
  • Painting the Medium: of a sort: when the pros and cons of a certain move are explained by Izawa or someone else, the author elucidates further with diagrams and text boxes clearly not perceived by the characters.
  • Papercutting: This being done to King in chapter 174 convinces him to get serious.
  • Parental Abandonment: Pretty much all characters are victim of this, as adults are clearly not a big part of the teenager cast's lives; their parents are completely absent and neglectful of their children, others are dead, and the majority simply doesn't exist in the storytelling.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Invoked by Yuu in his speech before he fights Taka. "All I know is that I will answer malice... with violence."
  • Poor Communication Kills: Another common theme, and a serious source of drama.
  • Reality Ensues: The gangsters often don't respect their loss in Combat by Champion and gang up on the victor. Averted later on when said gangsters become attracted to the watching of 1-on-1 fights
  • The Red Baron: Yuu, "the Thug Hunter". Masaki, "the Charisma of the Streets".
  • Redemption Equals Getting Arrested: What happens to Shougo in chapter 166 when he saves Yuu and beats down (and partially blinds) Ryuu.
  • The Resenter: Shougou eventually becomes this.
  • Retired Badass: If this trope can be said to apply to a person mid-twenties, Masaki is an example.
  • The Reveal: Masaki is Mai's brother.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Yuu goes on one after Shin's getting attacked.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Some of the thugs in chapter 162 chose to flee than try taking on Yuu.
  • Shown Their Work: Extensive annotations for all the fight scenes, explaining how the various attacks, defenses, and footwork work to the combatants' advantages — and disadvantages. Probably the selling point of the manga. There are, however, some flubs here and there; always consult a properly trained martial artist first.
  • Simple Yet Practical: The moves shown. Nothing crazy that you need to be a ballerina to use, just the straightforward and effective.
  • Slasher Smile: Tsuchiya gets one in chapter 144 just before he turns a fight around.
    • Ryuu in particular is prone to this.
  • Smug Snake: Practically all the arc villains are unbearably smug.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Yuu starts out with small-time thugs and Glory Seekers who mostly know basic street-fighting and a single martial art, moves his way up to youth gangsters who are more adult and are better trained in one or multiple disciplines (or fight dirty) and are accustomed to actual fighting, before starting to butt heads with martial art prodigies or pros with formal training in actually combat-related disciplines like kickboxing or MMA.
  • Taught by Experience: Yuu adapts his fighting style based on his experiences.
  • Tempting Fate: At one point Sawako gangsters are thinking of going after Shougo or Yuu after attacking Shinichi. Cue the former.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: King deliberately invoked this before the story's time-line.
    King: I had to be the bully, so no-one would bully me!
    • Also Yoshii. He was originally just another bullied kid before Taka saved him.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Essentially, the entire series for Yuu.
  • True Companions: One of the key meanings of the term "Holyland" (especially for Yuu who never had a true friend in his life) - a place one can belong to, something worth protecting.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: The guy who stabs Yuu in the second-last chapter is a student who Yuu saved from bullies many chapters back.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: All Yuu could do for quite a while was a "one-two" combo that he applied a bit differently when the situation called for it. However, his power, speed (both recognised In-Universe) and ability to take beatings that do in lesser men help him to hold his own.
    • This is actually subverted. The one-two works because Yuu's opponents don't expect someone as small and timid as him to have knockout power in both fists. Once rumors start spreading of the "thug-hunting boxer" and people start expecting the one-two combo, he has to learn different punches, proper footwork, and kicks in order to keep winning.
    • Katou has absolutely no formal training whatsoever, but is naturally strong, fights extremely dirty and is near insensitive to pain due to drug abuse. He shows up later in the manga in an attempt to take over the drug market and is completely flattened by one of King's MMA-using Co-Dragons.
  • Use Your Head: Katou does this to Shougo, marking the start of the latter's loss.
  • Vacuum Hurricane Kick: Totally averted, thank God.
  • Villain by Default: Majority of Delinquents and other gangsters seem to exist only to cause trouble.
    • Yuu has admited several times that he doesn't know if he's on the "good" side, there's a time when he recognizes that even those who picked fights on him where posibly "protecting their holyland". This goes to the point that Izawa comments on how stupid is to gather up to just "commit crimes".
    • Yuu admits that he is similar to them; they too are just looking for a place to belong to and protecting that place. The biggest difference between him and them is that due to him being bullied, he developed a shy, timid, humble, and more considerate personality, which is the opposite of most of the hot-headed, conceited, jackass thugs.
  • Waistcoat of Style: Masaki sports one at his bartending job.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: Yagi tries to do this in chapter 170, going In the Hood and wearing Sunglasses at Night. Yuu isn't fooled for a second.
  • Wooden Katanas Are Even Better: Used by Taka the kendoka.
  • Worf Had the Flu: A recurring phenomenon. When Yuu or whoever's heart is not in it, their fighting ability takes a large drop.
  • Worthy Opponent: Practically all the non-Smug Snake villains are presented as this instead.
  • Yakuza: When Yuu's Roaring Rampage of Revenge extends to attacking drug pushers, one of these tells Masaki to put a stop to it. Later on, he shows up again to tell Masaki to do something about the teen gangs pushing Shiromon/True before the adults have to get involved.
  • You Are Not Alone:
    • Tsuchiya says this to Masaki in chapter 147 when the latter does not want to shoulder the burden of putting together a group to stand up to the drug pushers.
    • Masaki passes the favour on to Yuu in chapter 156.
  • Younger Than They Look: Tsuchiya is barely out of high school but looks like he's in his mid-twenties (which helps his Big Brother Mentor credit). He gets annoyed when people automatically assume he's older than he really is.

Hito Hitori FutariSeinenHomunculus
Hokenshitsu no ShinigamiMangaHomunculus

alternative title(s): Holyland
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