Kenji Gou is an average kid in the neighborhood, healthy and sometimes fights bullies on the behalf of his oft-bullied friend Taichi Ichimura. His mother worries about him constantly, but his grandfather Kyotaro Gou taught him martial arts anyway. He grew up into a peaceable, overall Nice Guy
who loves kung-fu. However, one day his grandfather went to China and have yet to return. Fearing for the old man's life, the young lad embarked in a journey to find him.
Kenji (拳児) is a manga series written by Ryuchi Matsuda and illustrated by Yoshihide Fujiwara. It was serialized in Shogakukan's Shōnen Sunday from 1988 to 1992, totaling 21 volumes.
Tropes appearing in Kenji:
- Ancient Conspiracy/Brotherhood of Funny Hats: The Union leans more towards the latter, since they are by no means malicious or scheming (they have a set of their own codes and rule of conduct, even). A character describes them as "A way for a bunch of old men to keep tabs with and help each other."
- And Now For Something Completely Different: Tankoubon 21 details the life of Li Shuwen.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Loads, but the most glaring (and unrepentant) are Li Shuwen and Tony Tan.
- Badass: The biggest two are Li Shuwen and Kenji Goh. There are many Retired Badasses too. And this truly epic moment of Back-to-Back Badasses.
- World of Badass: This trope, however, is played with at best if not outright subverted. Kenji met a lot of badasses, but he only did so because he was actively seeking them. There are a few non-badass people too like Tony Chen, but their on-screen time are meager at best.
- Biker Babe: Akira eventually races bikes.
- Blood Brothers: Tony Tan has one in America, named Tony Chen. Kenji becomes this to a number of people as he became a member of The Union.
- Boring Invincible Hero: Averted. Kenji takes a beating more than once throughout the series.
- Bruce Lee Clone: One of Yan Da-Wang's retainers, Bobby, is trying to be one in the Hong Kong arc.
- Calling Your Attacks: Since Kenji constantly learns Kung-fu throughout the series, names of a particular move is often mentioned by the teacher as they are performed. Some opponents also do this while gloating.
- The Cavalry: Shaolin monks later show up to help Kenji & Co against Yecha Wu's big band of Mooks.
- Chaste Hero: While he has at least two girls pining for his attention, his quest to find his grandfather (and then to fight Tony Tan) is solely in his focus.
- Chekhov's Skill: Generally, what skills Kenji picked up in his tutelage will be used at some later point, but there are two prominent one:
- We first see Kenji learning elbow-strikes from his grandfather. It is Kenji's elbow strike that (presumably) finished Tony Tan and threw him down a ravine.
- Kyotaro and Kenji met Sohachi Takayama and his star junior pupil Takeshi Hotta in Kyotaro's village in the early part of the manga. Sohachi demonstrated a kick he learned in India, while Kyotaro demonstrated a strong palm strike that sends leaf raining down from the same tree. The same palm-strike was again witnessed by Sohachi towards the end of the series, but this time it's demonstrated by Kenji. It is also the beginning of Kenji's recovery from his biggest Heroic BSOD.
- Cool Old Guy: Many. The Union is essentially a Cool Old Guy Secret Society.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: The film director in the Hong Kong arc is probably the greatest example. He looks like a run-the-mill film director at first, but when his stuntmen started to riot and attacked bystanders (Kenji and co.), he singlehandedly subdued all of them with the help of a staff.
- Daojie later nearly killed Yecha Wu with a bearhug. He was previously the least talented martial artist in the setting.
- Cultural Revolution: Stated to be the event that drives most of the Chinese Mainland martial artists into hiding.
- Curbstomp Battle: Tony Tan loves this, but this is his biggest.
- Defeat Means Friendship: A few times. Most prominent in the 20th tankoubon, since defeating Ma Da-Yuan not only earns his friendship, but also Kenji's tutelage in the Xinyiliuhequan.
- Doorstopper: In Indonesian, at least. 21 volumes of around 200 pages, which roughly equals 4200 pages of manga.
- Everybody Was Kung-Fu Fighting: Again, that scene. Although it was subverted that everyone in the scene is likely to have been taught martial arts at one time or another.
- Heir to the Dojo: Several, but the most prominent is Liu Yun-Chiao, Li Shuwen's last pupil.
- Heroic BSOD: Kenji has several, but his biggest one is towards the very end of the series, when he thought he had killed Tony Tan.
- Insistent Terminology: Akira refers her family as Tekiya instead of Yakuza. Granted, her family doesn't do bad things like drugs or prostitution.
- Instant Expert: Rather subverted and lampshaded, even. Liu Yun-Chiang stated that he does not dump all of that he knows upon Kenji hoping that Kenji will be one of these; rather, he does it so Kenji can develop sufficient countermeasures in case he encounters a martial artist using that style.
- Tony Tan, on the other hand, seeks to be one in his quest to beat the everliving lights out of Kenji.
- Large and in Charge: Yan Da-Wang is the straightest example, although he is better-versed in throwing weapons than close combat. Liu Yun-Chiao is also fairly tall.
- Martial Arts Do Not Work That Way: Largely averted. Ryuchi Matsuda is a martial artist and he describes all the martial arts in this manga with staggering detail. Some people in the mangafox forums are quick to point a few of Matsuda's shortcomings however.
- Martial Medic: Kyoutaro, who treats Kenji's injuries during his childhood with Chinese medicine, noting that he's "still much better than your average doctor." Su Yu-Ching also mentioned that in Taiwan most martial arts teacher can practice excellent traditional medicine, because they should be able to treat their own pupils in case of accidents and such.
- My Kung-Fu Is Stronger Than Yours: Generally, Kenji is the guy doing it.
- Name's the Same: Akira shares the phonetically-exact name (although most likely with different Kanji) to Rival Schools' Akira, Akira Kazama.
- Never Found the Body: Tony Tan after the final battle.
- Nice Guy: Kenji, Kenji, Kenji. He only snaps twice throughout the series, once when Tony raided his school and once again when he learns that Kyotaro might have been killed by the Ya Sha Ow gang. Some other people can also be classified under this trope.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The Kyotaro vs Wukong duel is mainly offscreen, but Kyotaro describes it as the most intense fight of his lifetime. And it lasted a whole day.
- Old Master: Several, but the most prominent are Li Shuwen (in his later years, around the time he mentored Liu Yun-Chiao) and Kyotaro Gou, Kenji's grandfather and first teacher.
- The Rival: The most prominent one is Tony Tan to Kenji. Kenji has several other, more friendly rivals.
- Scary Shiny Glasses: Most notably two individuals, Liu Yun-Chiao and Yecha Wu/Fifth Yasha.
- Scenery Porn: Yoshihide Fujiwara draws detailed scenery shots, although the tankoubon format limits the porniness.
- Serious Business: Entering The Union. In Kenji's case, it is made even more serious since he's a Japanese entering the essentially all-Chinese organization.
- Spell My Name with an S: Due to the translator for the Indonesian translation using a different Chinese dialect, Chinese names in the translation can be quite different from usual. For example, Li Shuwen is rendered as Lie Syo Bun in this translation.
- Sue Donym: Kyotaro goes by as "Gang Xia" in China. It's how part of his name's Kanji (the "Gou" and "Kyo") is read in Chinese.
- Taking You with Me: Tony Tan attempts this, falling down a ravine while his meteor hammer snagging Kenji's wrist.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: One of Kenji's later principles, enforced to him in the time he was in Shaolin Temple.
- The Triads and the Tongs: Hinted at by Zhan Ren Zhong. The old man revealed that he was once offered membership in a Hong Bang society, and that Tony knew of him from the leader of that society in Singapore.
- The Union has a lot of power and basically has an overall feel of a Triad society. Su Yu-Ching even called Tony Chen 'the New York gangster' in jest.
- Yan Da-Wang's wing of The Union is notably shadier than the rest, as he is on the forefront of the clash between The Union and rival Hong Kong gangs.
- The Yecha Wang gang is a crude form of a Triad. It fits the stereotype for run-the-mill Hong Kong-style gang, doesn't help that they had eight leaders, each with massive ego.
- Training Montage: Kenji has a few of those in his training.
- Waif-Fu: The manga explains that muscles don't always make the better martial artist. In fact, many strong martial artists (Li Shuwen, Su Yu-Ching, Kenji) are small, wiry guys.
- Walking the Earth: Kenji traverses Taiwan, Hong Kong (still under British rule at the time), and Northern China in search of his grandfather Kyotaro Goh; Kyotaro, on the other hand, went to China first to look for the man who saved him in World War 2 and the teacher who taught him Bajiquan, but later changed purposes to avenging the demise of the former man's son.
- Wax On, Wax Off: Reversed. Kenji learns a kung-fu technique from Zhang Ren Zhong to aid him in washing the dishes. Kenji keeps breaking them, though.
- Wuxia: As close as a modern counterpart can get.
- Yakuza Princess: Akira is essentially one.
- Zerg Rush: Yecha Wu used this tactic to overwhelm Kenji & Co. near the end of the Shaolin arc.