Karate Shoukoushi Kohinata Minoru is the story of Kohinata Minoru, a freshman at Reinan University, a school renowned for its numerous and formidable sports teams, who is the official Persona Non Grata of the gymnastics club. Holding him responsible for their lost spot in the latest competition selection, his seniors have kicked him out of the club, and continue to bully him over his friendship with Misaki Nana, the club belle.Enter Mutou Ryuuji, a karate club member who happens upon the latest altercation and beats up not only the offending club members, but Minoru as well for failing to stand up for Nana and himself. Having lost his spot in the gymnastics club, Minoru accedes to Mutouís demands, and the club captain Minami Hirokiís more gracious requests, and joins the schoolís Second Karate Club, a small club practicing the brutal full contact style of Kaburagi Ryu. With his gymnastic abilities, Minoru discovers not only talent, but a growing passion for karate. And Itís a good thing too, since he has to take on not only the clubís grueling training, but also its numerous feuds and rivalries, in his journey to work his way to the top of the sport.The series has recently finished in Japan and a sequel to the series has started.
Action Girl: Kou Haruka, Mutou's maybe-girlfriend and the captain of the taekwondo team, and Akamine Rika, the daughter of one of their school's old karate team captains. Akiko Takakura is a less typical example, but is still highly formidable with a naginata. There's also Nozomi, the captain of the naginata club.
All Amazons Want Hercules: Haruka seems to play this the straightest, as she's considered the strongest female on campus and paired with Mutou, widely regarded as the most dangerous male on campus...and other places. Her ex-boyfriend is no less of a Bad Ass.
All Girls Want Bad Boys: Mutou has no shortage of female fans, and Chris Young's ex-girlfriend actually wants him to go back to being a reckless and violent thug.
Pedro Barbossa is a lowly first dan in the school judo team, and a purple belt in Brazilian Jiujitsu, but is far more formidable than either the judo team captain or the black belt captain of the Brazilian Jiujitsu club.
Minoru also qualifies, being a white belt and later progressing to a green belt before the timeskip, yet he's able to beat the head of Reinan's kendo team, and becomes capable of fighting and defeating black belts.
Animal Motifs: Mutou is frequently referred to as a gorilla by Minami and Hayama.
Art Evolution: After 30 Volumes or so, Yasushi Baba begins to evolve his way of drawing muscles. It becomes more defined, shaded and solid; it coincides with the MMA Genre Shift as the characters now are mostly shirtless, and no less important, he begins to draw the women more curvy as well. Characters in particular got a beauty upgrade, Hayama and Seiji are glaring examples, their designs are completely renewed; it might be for matching looks with their beautiful girls, as they got Rika and Akiko as their Love Interests.
Humiliate Gerard Bertrand, and Andre Makinba, his disciple, will do whatever it takes to get the chance to kick your ass.
Big Bad Wannabe: Yuuya Morisawa, the MMA club captain, a villainous individual who makes a big deal of the advantages his versatile fighting style gives over purebred karateka. However, when he fights Ibuki, he goes down like a punk despite using a weapon, and Ibuki's student is quick to point out that while Ibuki practices his art at an elite level, Morisawa's skills are distinctly half-assed.
Big Brother Bully: Mamiya Seiji's older brother, Mamiya Kiichi, who arranges to have him beaten up in order to force him to return to the Kendo Club, and later puts him in hospital. After he is beaten by Minoru, he agrees to let Seiji stay in the Second Karate Club, and ultimately grows out of this trope.
Black Comedy Rape: Pedro starts as a flat out villain, but once he's inducted into the club, his crimes are brushed under the rug, and his intentions towards Minoru are occasionally Played for Laughs.
Blood Knight: Mutou, front and center. Kevin Norton is the tyrant of the underground fighting ring at the American military installation in Okinawa, and Aniya Souhachi, like Netero of Hunter ◊ Hunter, finds himself hard up for a real fight since he became revered as an Old Master.
Blood Lust: Kevin tastes Kohinata's blood during their match in the underground fighting ring.
Brutal Honesty: When Minoru is worried that his senior Ibuki Kengo hates him...
Mutou: There's no doubt that he hates you. But before, far from hating you, he didn't think anything about you at all, so this is a step forward.
Butt Monkey: Hayama Kentarou, the weakest and all around lamest member of the Second Karate Club. Later this role is passed to Pedro and Kaoru (although it didn't keep him from being a badass) as Hayama Took a Level in Badass along with Minoru by turning into a great karateka, fighting in tournaments and getting Rika as his Love Interest.
Cast of Snowflakes: Even unnamed bit part characters are always totally distinct in their appearances.
Casualty in the Ring: Ibuki Kengo's older brother Satoru died three years ago from his injuries fighting the Muay Thai genius Samart Sirinto in a match.
Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: Averted. Gerard Bertrand is one of the toughest fighters in the series. His student, Andre Makinba, is no wimp either, having won two European titles.
Commuting on a Bus:After Mutou's defeat against Masahiro in Volume 16 he decides to train overseas in America, that marks Mutou's loss of substancial importance to the story when compared to his constant apppearances till then; after that he only gets a few appearances when he returns to Japan, just for reader to know he has dropped off the University, became a pro and has improved a lot since his defeat, but all of this as small one or two pages explanations and showcases; this formula is kept all the way till the 50th and last volume of the first series.
Crippling Overspecialization: Minoru is rather weak at throwing punches, something his opponents can take advantage of. Until he evolves into a more well-rounded fighter later on.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Hiroki, the bumbling Captain. He spends dozens of volumes in the shadows and suffering diarrhea and hemmorhoids, then Genre Shift and Art Evolution kicks in, and boy does he change, or rather, he starts to show exactly why he is the Club's Captain. By the 40th Volume he is considered as much a menace in the ring as Mutou. No wonder he got Nozomi as his Love Interest. The first hints of this is actually when he fought and pretty much defeated Kasumi Saizou, and a conversation between him and Mutou soon after that revealed that they have fought three times in middle school, and won...well, at least once by default, but still... The fact that Mutou considers him a rival should give a clue.
Expy: Mutou, particularly early on, comes across as one of Takamura Mamuro in fighting skill relative to the other members of the club, seniority, and jerkassery. Even the circumstances under which they meet the protagonist are similar.
Extremity Extremist: Minoru's specialization is kicks. This is due to his gymnastics background, which gives him flexible legs.
Feel No Pain: Kevin Norton, thanks to his usage of PCP. In the end, his overuse of drugs hurts him even more than the blows he takes in the ring.
Generation Xerox: Minoru and his girlfriend Nanase looks very similar to Ibuki's dead older brother Satoru and his girlfriend Mifuyu. Mutou specifically points out their great talent as their most striking similarity.
Genre Shift: In the series' long run, the setting changes a bit, Karate becomes less prominent as fighting leagues and tournaments take over as the focus of the manga. This is because Minoru develops into a well rounded karateka and black belt quite fast, so the plot introduces the MMA aspect to pit him and his friends against other fighters of different upbringings. Also the comedy gets sligthly dialed down.
Gonk: Hayama at first, then Character Development and Art Evolution kicks in, and he becomes noticeably average looking, and most of the students at Musashino Budou University, Reinan's rival school.
Green-Eyed Monster: Mamiya Seiji tends to get very jealous of Minoru's success with the ladies. Particularly when one of the ladies in question is a blonde.
Groin Attack: Mutou has a propensity for these, both in real fights and in competitions where it's not allowed; he has at least two losses in competition due to disqualification because of this.
Hidden Heart of Gold: Ibuki doesn't want his juniors to know he's good with kids and teaches an elementary school karate class.
Highly-Visible Ninja: Kasumi Saizou. He often wears a stereotypical ninja costume and for some reason shouts "DIVINE RETRIBUTION!" when starting his attack on Minami.
Hope Spot: The first few moments of Minoru's fight with Hamada. At first it looks as though he's on even ground with the Koudan Champion, dodging all his attacks, and throwing some very powerful, and unusually accurate kicks at him. But then Hamada gets serious, and the rest of the fight is not nice at all for Minoru.
Jerkass: Mutou. He can be a good friend to have on your side occasionally, but for the most part your life will be easier not knowing him at all.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ibuki is generally an ass to his juniors when he acknowledges them at all, but is nice to children. he had a more easygoing character before his brother died. Also, Mutou, while usually a reckless Blood Knight, actually does care for his juniors.
Knight Templar Big Brother: Hiroshi Takakura, aka Kasumi Saizou. So far he's attempted to kill a guy he thought was two-timing his sister Akiko, and when he learns that their grandfather has arranged a marriage for her, he ultimately ends up punching the groom so hard in the testicles, that it's implied that the guy ended up sterile as a result. Also, Saizou's unhappy that he wasn't able to actually kill the guy.
Let's Get Dangerous: Kaoru Hamada. He was dangerous when introduced, but when he joins Minoru volumes later, Kaoru becomes a Butt Monkey, finding himself in embarrassing situations quite often. Then he gets into the ring and shows why he was the Koudan National light weight champion for three times in a row.
Little Miss Badass: Akamine Rika. She's "little" in the sense that she's a senior high school student when first introduced, whereas most of the protagonists are at uni. The "badass" part comes from her being able to take on a US soldier much bigger than her.
Loophole Abuse: Imai Yuuto's main tactic when first introduced. Namely, turning his back on opponents when fighting in the Kaburagi Ryu Nationals, preventing them from attacking him. He grows out of it after the timeskip.
Love Letter Lunacy: When Kasumi Saizou thinks Minami is two-timing (or three or four timing) his sister Akiko, he writes a false letter to lure him out. Minami has never met his sister, and was talking about a different Akiko, while the member of the karate club that Akiko really likes is Minoru, who Saizou tried to make his accomplice.
Megaton Punch: The Takakura-Ryu Ultimate Mystery Optical-Magnetized Light Vacuum Fist. Downplayed in that it doesn't send the victim flying, it's just ridiculously powerful.
Meganekko: Akiko Takakura, of the naginata club. She's much more dangerous with her glasses off, since she loses the ability to control her strikes.
Mighty Glacier: An unusal lightweight example; Kaburagi Ryu lightweight championship contender Teranishi has overwhelming resilience and striking power, but lousy footwork and mobility.
Mr. Fanservice: Mutou posing in just a speedo, in order to serve as bait for Pedro.
Mushroom Samba: Minami's "enlightenment" during his training in the mountains is the result of this, coming to him in a poison-addled delusion. However, his performance in the opening rounds of the Kaburagi Ryu Openweight Nationals suggest he might not be so delusional after all.
Never Mess with Granny: Specifically, the naginata club's trainer, a little old woman who throws people around like nothing.
Never My Fault: The attitude of the gymnastics club members who bully Minoru, blaming him for them being unable to attend the selection meeting, even though as Nana points out, it's because of their bad behaviour that the uni took away their rights to the selection.
Ninja: Kasumi Saizou, member of an old ninja family and last remaining member of the school's Ninjutsu Club. Carlos Jiraiya also qualifies, having been trained in Ninjutsu by Saizou's grandfather.
No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Mutou delivers quite a few of these. Most of the time his opponents deserve it, though sometimes you really can't help but feel sorry for the guys.
No Guy Wants an Amazon: Akamine Rika is afraid of this, thanks to an offhand remark Mutou made years ago. Considering that his girlfriend is possibly the most formidable female martial artist on a campus full of martial artists, he probably didn't mean it seriously.
No Loves Intersect: In the long run, every single main character gets a Love Interest, the girls◊ are introduced in the very first ten Volumes (some are main characters themselves), none have competition and they were quite obvious even before becoming Official Couple, they only needed some development then and there after in between the fights and tournaments. To point it out, it goes like this: Minoru/Misaki, Ryuuji/Haruka, Hayama&Rika, Hiroki/Nozomi, Seiji/Akiko. All of them are solid, zero competition to even start a possible Love Triangle or break-up.
Takenaka's very first fight in a ring pits him against Imai Yuuto, the semifinalist from the Kaburagi Ryu nationals. He's so spaced out from fighting in front of an audience for the first time that he doesn't respond to Yuuto's first kick. Total match time, twelve seconds, including the knockout countdown.
Ripped from the Headlines: The Japanese headlines, as the shutdown of Kaburagi Ryu due to tax evasion charges mirror the real life arrest of Kazuyoshi Ishii, founder of the Seidokaikan karate organization (the Real Life founders of K-1).
Running Gag: Hayama and diarrhea, Hiroki and his hemmorhoids, Pedro and his...advances.
Signature Move: The domawashi (full body rolling kick) for Minoru, elbow strikes for Mutou, and counter-punching for Hayama.
Spell My Name with an S: Minoru is occasinally referred to as Kohinata Kairyuu, which is a more common way of saying the kanji in his name.
Tap on the Head: Kasumi Saizou uses the "neck chop" variety on Nana at one point.
Tears of Fear: Minoru in his first run in with Pedro, and later again in the face of Kevin Norton's drug fueled bloodlust. Also happens with a giant Taekwondo athlete when Haruka nearly breaks his head.
Thug Dojo: The Shiryu Kai MMA karate group. Their training style has earned them an unsavory reputation, which the head of their organization fully embraces. In addition to drawing out his students' raw aggression, he encourages his dojo's representatives to fight dirty in competition if they can get away with it, and won't hesitate to protest tournament rules the moment they start to inconvenience his fighters, even if he devised those rules himself.
Time Skip: The story moves forward by a year after the end of the Kaburagi Ryu National Tournament arc.
Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Akamine Kazutora, the Reinan OB who runs the Okinawan training camp, and his deceased wife, who was much taller than he was and described as having the build of a pro wrestler (the picture of her wearing a championship belt suggests she really was one).
Training from Hell: The Okinawan training camp is explicitly described as this. This is also what you are most likely to get if you ask Mutou for training.
Transsexual: Alyosha Harchenko. He wears women's clothing, has long girlie hair and is saving up for a sex change operation.
Violently Protective Girlfriend: Nana Misaki. Though she's more close friend than girlfriend, she still kicks one of Minoru's bullies in the first chapter. Later on in the series, she nearly gets into a fight with a load of Ryu Oosugi fangirls when they claim that Minoru can't beat him in a match.