A shonen manga that was published in Shonen Sunday magazine. It stars high school student Akira Kongoh, a ten-to-twelve-foot-tall mountain of muscle with incredibly spiky Anime Hair, mile-wide shoulders, and a stare that could cut bread.After a series of misadventures involving a young girl named Hinako Sakura, who has a compulsion to take pictures of things that are "sooooo unusual" with her cell phone's camera, and her younger sister Tsukimi, in which he demonstrates his incredible strength and resilience (as well as his capacity for kindness and understanding), Kongoh reveals his reasons for his sudden appearance: He has come to stop something called "The 23 District Project". This involves people called "Bancho", people who have exceptional fighting skills as well as great amounts of charisma (and who can be identified by the dark red phoenix tattoo on the back of their neck), fighting for control of the 23 districts of Japan. (The word "bancho" itself is usually used to refer to the leader of a delinquent gang, and all Bancho wear Japanese school uniform jackets, in one form or another.) Whosoever conquers them all will be given control of Japan and will be able to mold its future to their liking.He later ends up defeating one of the Bancho - Iai Bancho, a master of iaijutsu. He is then told that defeating a bancho means you gain their territory and are now part of the 23 District Project, whether you want to be or not, and is given his new title by his defeated opponent: Kongoh Bancho.From there, it leads to awesome fights with The Power of Friendship causing Defeat Means Friendship to those who are defeated, while trying to stop the Big Bad and his Absurdly Powerful Student Council from destroying Japan's population.The manga ended with 114 chapters and 12 volumes.
In a weird twist, it turned out that the Kongou family doesn't have weird spiky hair... It's their skull that is shaped like that! If you stop and think about that for a second, it actually puts quite a twist on the death of Rai's mother.
For those who don't understand much about Japan or the Japanese language, calling someone a Bancho is basically the same as saying that they are the most badass person in their school and/or school district. And the only way to get this title is by kicking the ass of anyone and everyone who tries to take it. Basically, anyone who holds the title of Bancho has already established themselves thoroughly as the most badass individual in their district before even arriving on the scene, so just by hearing their name, you can expect moments of unrivaled badassery from them.
Bears Are Bad News: An interesting case with the "Mountain Destroyer", a cow that, when first seen, has a bear impaled on one horn and is chewing on another.
Big Damn Heroes: This happens later in the series when all of Kongoh's defeated enemies show up to help him when he's getting whupped by five Bancho at once.
Big Eater: Gouriki Bancho, which is explained to be due to her "Hyperion Constitution" and subsequent metabolism.
The Big Guy: Many, many people, but the main character is the first one we meet.
Bishōnen: Iai Bancho. Later, Shirobara Bancho. Nenchaku Bancho appears like this for a few moments, even prompting Gouriki Banchou to nearly squee... and then we get to the Squick.
Bishonen Line: Lampshaded in a bit of genre savvyness by Nenbutsu Bancho in his fight against Nenchaku Bancho, and is then subverted when this second form is every bit as squicky as the first.
Blow You Away: Nenbetsu Bancho's main form of attack, always called with the phrase "Katsu". It's really a Breath Weapon, and shouting Katsu is how he expels the air. Shouting "Butsu" changes the "caliber" on these air bullets, making them smaller, more powerful and capable of piercing most anything.
Kongoh's "That wasn't very smart at all..."note Future translations reveal that this is actually supposed to be a callback to his mother's last words to him about "doing the right thing/finishing things properly"; since the sentence was unusual to the point of nearly being untranslatable, it was changed by the original translators to compensate., which is used to precede a righteous asskicking. Also, "I don't care!"
From Hikyou Bancho, we have "Fair, cowardly way"
Nenbutsu Bancho's is "The afterlife is always open for business."
Celibate Hero: Iai Bancho, which is hinted very early on when he insists Hinako wear a kimono and comments that she shouldn't be showing her legs, played for comedy when he sees girls in skirts, and then played for plot against a later Bancho, who gives him a Nosebleed when he so much as looks at her, causing him to slash his eyes out and fight that way.
Charles Atlas Superpower: Kongoh has plenty of these, such as his Megaton Punch, being Made of Iron, and his Walking On Water, which can hardly be Justified by his being a towering mass of muscle... And then we see his father and realize he's Not Quite Human. Also, if they aren't an outright freak of nature (like, say, Nenbutsu Bancho), Bancho tend to have these. Could be actually Subverted, as during the last arc it is actually implied that all the banchous are the by-products of Japanese super-soldier research.
Code Name: All the Bancho have one, which is lampshaded before we even see one when Kongoh labels a Mook "Homerun Bancho" but then realizes his mistake afterwards.
Combat Pragmatist: Hikyou Banchou. This guy is going to exploit every possible weakness and use any advantage he has to win. Hell he ends up making Kongoh get hit by a truck when he threw a rubber ball in the air which Kongoh (whose eyes were wounded by a earlier trick by Hikyou and could therefore not see well) saw as a grenade.
Contest Winner Cameo: The author holds contests for original characters, redraws his favorites in his own style, and puts them on chapter covers. So far, a lot of different ones have made it into the story, three as part of a Five-Bad Band and others to lose to new villains. Though it seems like the Dark Student Council is composed of contest winners that weren't part of the Twenty-Three District Project.
Crazy-Prepared: Hikyou Banchou takes the cake here. Seriously this guy is like a Japanese Batman. Before a fight he ends up giving a guy diarrhea by poisoning his food HOURS before the fight! Not to mention how much he is prepared to protect those he cares about He makes the orphans swallow pills that will nullify poison, has a freaking machine gun under his own fake arm (which a lot of people had assumed was real for quite some time) oh and he has a bomb in the shape of a kid just in case his enemy will take hostages. This guy is Batman with a penchant for using guns and explosives on people!
Cue the Sun: Light pours through the hole in the ceiling Kongoh made and envelops him, causing the cult he just defeated to view him as a living god, and they decide to follow him from now on. He shouts "I don't care! and walks away.
Used more literally at the end of the Five Dark Vows arc, when all the fighting has ended and it is now dawn.
Dark Messiah: The whole point of the 23 Districts Project, but Nenbutsu Bancho actually turns himself into a cult leader.
Deceptively Human Robots: Inverted; you realize Machine Bancho is a robot before you see his body, which freaks his opponents out even more when they start thinking they're fighting a human, and he's, well, not. Is possibly a Ridiculously Human Robot, due to his musings about the nature of death in living creatures, as well as his flashbacks to one "Dr. Tsukina".
Defeat Means Friendship: Kongoh makes friends with people after messing them up something fierce, even resulting in a Heel-Face Turn for Oyanana despite the fact that Kongoh didn't even touch him (though he sure scared the crap out of him).
Dumb Muscle: Lampshaded by Kangoku Bancho in reference to Gouriki Bancho, when he wonders if her brain is made of muscle as well. After her attacks end up having an effect after all, he wonders if she's really a Genius Bruiser... which she promptly shoots down when she panics.
Fanservice: Pretty rare, but Douke Bancho brings it out in spades.
Fearful Symmetry: An interesting variation with Douke Bancho; Yoruko hides behind Asako and does everything exactly as she does, hiding her presence from the blinded Iai Bancho, and even the heroes, but not the villains who have a different perspective.
Generation Xerox: Rai seems like this at first, but he's really not Kongou's son, but his nephew.
Played straight anyway since he's not identical to Akira Kongoh but to Akira's brother, Takeshi Kongoh, who is his real father. They even share the same Catch Phrase, quite improbable considering that Rai haven't even met his father.
Gratuitous English: Half of Jiryoku Bancho's dialogue consists of near-nonsensical Engrish.
After it is revealed that the Kongoh is a species separate from humans and other mammals, this is soon explicitly stated to be part of the Kongoh genes by Hakai Bancho, who was created from them, as he immediately reconnects his severed arm.
The Hero Dies: Kongoh gets killed by Machine Bancho. There's been no evidence that he could get better, although he later does.
Hikikomori: Appears in one chapter. Kongoh straightens him out.
Hot-Blooded: Pretty much all the Banchous have moments of severe hot-blooded ness, but Bakunetsu Banchou takes this to the extreme, constantly yelling everything he says and declaring that anyone who isn't hot blooded should die. At least until he faces Kongoh Banchou...
In the final issue, Bakunetsu Banchou becomes a member of the Japanese government,and he has been causing quite a lot of commotion. He's made good on his promise to inject Japan with hot-blooded spirit.
Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Kongoh and the Sakura sisters, Gouriki Bancho and her minion sidekick Kairiki (she's also the shortest member of the team by far). Also the Kongou siblings' parents. Their dad is a man-mountain and their mom was normal-sized. It's best not to think how all 3 were conceived.
Noble Demon: Since his Heel-Face Turn, Hikyou Banchou takes every opportunity he can to remind everyone that he's only part of the team as part of his plan to be the last man standing. Even if there's some truth to it, there's the matter of going into a Tranquil Fury when Kongoh is killed by Machine Banchou, going so far as to take the latter on all by himself.
No Social Skills: Kongoh can't figure out a flip-top cellphone, and later on when he comments "What's e-mail?"
Serial Escalation: The main character starts off chapter one by saving a jerkass from falling steel girders with his body, attacking a yakuza compound while carrying a car, getting stabbed with knives and breaking the blades off eith just his back muscles, then breaking a sword in midswing with his bare hands. Oh, and those last three items? He did them just to get a yakuza underling to apologize for ripping up a little girl's drawing. It only escalates from there.
Single-Minded Twins: A variation; Douke Bancho had to train to gain the ability to invoke this at will.
Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Subverted, as the Bancho Kongoh fights early in the story beat the crap out of ones that show up later on. Both played straight and subverted with Machine Bancho, who not only blows away all older Bancho, but also claims that he's at least as strong as Kongoh's older brother, one of the Big Bads.
The Dark Student Council plays this straight, though it's not surprising since all of its members are the banchous who've come out on top in their own prefectures. As a testament to their strength, one was able to take out six Banchou with a One-Hit Kill, and later on defeat Ourou and Iai Banchou. The other one took on Nenbutsu, Gouriki, Hikyou and Sasori Banchou, losing only when Kongoh himself kicked his ass — and even then he still managed to escape.
Stage Magician: Douke Bancho is this but with great emphasis put on the magic.
Thoroughly Mistaken Identity: Machine Bancho believes Tsukimi to be the mysterious "Dr. Tsukina", whose orders supersede Dr. Kagimiya's. Except the order to kill Kongoh. Poor Tsukimi.
Noticeably, we know that this shouldn't be the case, as Machine Banchou identifies humans by their voice patterns and with a retina scan instead of just, you know, looking at them.
Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe: Justified, since the 23 District Project was conceived by the Japanese Government, the ultimate intended result being the rebirth of Japan. The rest of the world (so far, anyways) doesn't even factor into the equation.
Took a Level in Badass: Oyanana, though not to the point that he could be considered a Bancho. Doesn't stop him from declaring himself the new Kongoh Bancho and trying to fight Machine Bancho.
Played straight with Kongoh first after dying against Machine Bancho and secondly against Ousama Bancho.
"My blood has never boiled this hot before. But... My heart is cold and calm, like an ocean of darkness." Said while he's holding Machine Bancho's FREAKING ARM in his hand.
Twinkle In The Sky: Gouriki Bancho uses a giant morningstar to "fish" Unabara Bancho right out of the ocean, yanking hard enough to send him flying up into the sky and out of sight.
‹bermensch: Ostensibly, the goal of the 23 District Project and its larger, nation-spanning expansion is to create one of these that will lead Japan into greatness. Whether the leader of this program Takeshi Kongou is an ‹bermensch himself or simply a Nietzsche Wannabe remains to be seen.
Use Your Head: In two different situations, Kongou was blackmailed into staying still while his opponent beat him, due to them holding one of his friends hostage. The first time this happened, the blackmailer specified "Don't move your arms or legs". Kongou used this trope and reminded them afterwards "That wasn't very smart at all". However, the second time this happened the blackmailer was Genre Savvy enough to tell him not to move his head either.
Willing Suspension of Disbelief: Kongoh and Iai Bancho have theirs put to the test when they see Gokurou arrive with a cauldron of food for Gouriki Bancho a moment after she calls for it.
Done again when Nenbutsu Bancho grows a full head of hair through sheer willpower.
Many of the Banchous plans to improve Japan. Housing situation problem? Stick everyone in 4x4x4 boxes for homes. Food shortages? Everyone eat bugs. This tends to be Lampshaded.
The Worf Effect: Wolf Fang, a group made up of the seven remaining Banchous, is set up to be a reprise of the Five Dark Vows arc to reach the end of the 23 District Project. They get set up by the Dark Student Council, and all but the leader are taken down in a One-Hit Kill. That's not one shot each. TOTAL.
World of Badass: Sort of. Too many badasses for it to not count, but the whole point is that they live in an otherwise normal Tokyo.
World of Ham: Also comes across as this some of the time; very noticeable in the Gouriki Bancho arc.
World's Strongest Man: Kongoh gives the impression of being this. Then you meet Gouriki Bancho, though Kongoh beats her in the end.
And then it turns out that Kongoh went easy on her because his full attacks would have knocked her straight into some kind of hyper acid. When they have a rematch after Gouriki Bancho's misunderstanding, she doesn't last past the first hammer.
Then later, we meet the world's strongest man's brother, who is even stronger. Then there's the world's strongest man's father, who is probably stronger than both of his children COMBINED.
Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Averted. In a fight it pretty much has no bearing whether the opponent is male or female.