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Creator / Ikki Kajiwara

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Ikki Kajiwara (梶原 一騎), born Asaki Takamori (高森 朝樹, September 4, 1936 –- January 21, 1987) and also known as Asao Takamori (高森 朝雄) was a manga writer, novelist and film producer mostly known for being the Trope Codifier of the Hot-Blooded sports manga and the Fighting Series genres, two genres which, notoriously, "The Father of Manga" Osamu Tezuka stayed away fromnote . His family includes his youngest brother, karateka and fellow mangaka Hisao Maki, and his second ex-wife, Taiwanese celebrity Pai Bing-Bing, whom he had his sixth child with, Pai Hsiao-Yen, who was the center of a sadly controversial incident. (Reader discretion is advised.)

His career started in 1953 when he was 17 years old, when he submitted a boxing novel, Shōri no kage ni, to a shonen magazine. He would continue to publish novels and stories until the late '60s - however, his popularity would explode after writing sports manga in the sixties, most notoriously the enormously successful baseball manga Kyojin no Hoshi — it started his most successful era, where he managed to write at the same time many classics for different publishers such as Ashita no Joe, Tiger Mask, Yūyake Banchō, Judo Icchokusen, Giant Typhoon, Kick no Oni, Niji o Yobu Ken or Akaichi no Eleven... And that's not even half of them.


The '70s would be the decade where karate-themed works would dominate his input, most notoriously the incredibly successful manga Karate Baka Ichidai, written with the consent of Kyokushin Karate founder Masutatsu Oyama, the series' protagonist and a personal friend of Kajiwara. However, disputes between Oyama and Kajiwara about issues like the manga's new protagonists or film adaptation income would seriously damage their relationship for life. It's also on this decade when Kajiwara would eventually use his fame and contacts with wrestlers and martial artists to work as a match fixer, like in New Japan Pro-Wrestling's famous "style vs style" matches note . These would culminate on 1980's Antonio Inoki vs. Willie Williams match, considered in Japan by some to be the most important professional wrestling match of all time and a one of their antecessors to Mixed Martial Arts.


Kajiwara's focus also expanded to cinema, as he went to be an independent film producer after seeing the success of many of his manga's live-action adaptations, like Bodyguard Kiba, Ai to Makoto or Karate Baka Ichidai: his films were mainly low-budget but highly successful karate / martial arts documentaries, and to a lesser extent, dramas written by himself.

However, by the late '70s-'80s, he was seen as an outdated authornote  and his prolific output slowed down, until he was imprisoned on 1983 after a violent event that brought to light violent incidents of his past and made him an Unperson to Japanese media. Finally, on 1987, and with a much more relaxed output partly caused by his failing health, he died of pancreatitis while making his final works. His work wouldn't be critically reevaluated until the mid-'90s.

The notable artist disciplined under Kajiwara's line of genre and achieved stardom was Masami Kurumada, who was an assistant of Kajiwara's lead collaboration artist, Kou Inoue during the run of Samurai Giants. Other notable artists influenced by him includes Naoki Urasawa, Keisuke Itagaki, and Takashi Shimada. He was even name-dropped several times on Bakuman。 He was also a huge influence on the Fighting Game genre on the '80s, specially on the Hiryu no Ken series and Street Fighter I.

Many of his less popular works can be found in Japanese for free in this link, or in this other link searching for his name or under the Group Zero (グループ・ゼロ) category.

Works with their own pages:

Other notable works:

  • Champion Futoshi (1962-1963): Kajiwara's first notable work. Futoshi "Dai" Daito, a small boy talented in many sports, joins the Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance under Rikidozan's tutelage and fights against many heel villains. It was cancelled after Rikidozan's murder, and followed in 1964 by the memorial manga Nitoryu Rikidozan and the succesor Senkan Toyonobori (Submarine Toyonobori), featuring the titular wrestler who was predicted to be Rikidozan's successor - sadly, he wasn't as successful, so neither was the manga. Drawn by by Tatsuo Yoshida, one of the founders of Tatsunoko Production.

  • Shin Senkan Yamato (New Battleship Yamato, 1963-1964): A flying Battleship Yamato and its crew defend Japan from the american Mad Scientist that commisioned it in WWII to Take Over the World. Mostly remembered today for the titular ship's resemblance to the famous anime that would come out ten years later.

  • Kyojin no Hoshi (Star of the Giantsnote , 1966-1971): Hyuuma Hoshi, the son of a ex-baseball player, turns himself from a poor boy to the best baseball player in Japan for the Yomiuri Giants (after an extremely harsh training, of course). The manga not only transformed Kajiwara into a superstar, it singlehandedly codified the sports manga genre. It would receive a much less popular sequel during 1976-1977, Shin Kyojin no Hoshi.

  • Yuuyake Bancho (Sunset Bancho, 1967-1971): Chuuji Akagi is transferred to a school overtaken by a bancho gang, mostly formed by members who excel at the many sports clubs there. Akagi, predictably enough, slowly manages to defeat the gang and become an excellent athlete, but there's one of Kajiwara's first twist endingsnote . Notable for being one of the very first Bancho-based manga, a year before the rival hit Otoko Ippiki Gaki Daishou came out. Drawn by Toshio Shoji, who would later make Cycle Yaro, the Ur-Example of cycling manga.

  • Judo Icchokusen (Judo Straight Line, 1967-1971): A judo-based manga where the protagonist beats other japanese and foreign judoka with outlandish techinques. It was adapted into a popular TV show, mostly known today for being the Spiritual Predecessor of the Kamen Rider TV show.

  • Giant Typhoon (1968-1971): A Kayfabe manga about Giant Baba's life and his matches against wrestlers as Antonino Rocca, Fritz von Erich, Buddy Rogers, Bruno Sammartino or Killer Kowalski. It’s something of a Companion Show to Tiger Mask, since both of them were created by the same writer-artist team during the same years, although for different publishers.

  • Kick no Oni (The Kick Demon, 1969-1971): Kajiwara's first manga based on a real-life martial artist, kickboxer Tadashi Sawamura. It follows his trials to prove japanese kickboxing's superiority to Muay Thai. The anime adaptation gained a huge following in Brazil under the name "Sawamu, o Demolidor". Drawn by Ken Nakajo, who would be one of Kajiwara’s most faithful artists.

  • Niji wo Yobu Ken (Fist calling a rainbow, 1969-1971): A fictional counterpart to Kick no Oni, this time protagonised by a schoolboy that learns karate and pretty much follows Sawamura's kickboxing training and Muay Thai duels. Mostly remembered today as the Spiritual Predecessor of Karate Baka Ichidai, and the start of Kajiwara's obsession with Karate - in fact, Masatsu Oyama is credited as an advisor.

  • Akakichi no Eleven (Red-blooded Eleven, 1970-1971): One of the first notable manga about Association Football, ten years before Captain Tsubasa hit big time.

  • Karate Baka Ichidai (A Karate-Crazy Life, 1971-1977): Kajiwara's major work during the seventies. It's a work very loosely based on Masatsu Oyama's life, from his training to develop full-contact karate to the foundation and expansion of the Kyokushin organization and his disciples, while they meet / fight against famous boxing, judo, wrestling, muay thai, savate, capoeira and kenpo practicioners (and bulls). It turned karate into a household martial art, and made Kajiwara and Oyama close friends... Until the manga was forcibly retooled by a change of artists, and it started focusing on Kyokushin disciples such as Hideyuki Ashihara more than on Oyama and the manga recovered from its slump, thus creating an ideological split inside the Kyokushin organization.

  • Samurai Giants (1971-1974): The Denser and Wackier Spiritual Successor to Kajiwara’s own Kyojin no Hoshi, though it never managed to be as popular as its predecessor – in fact, it only got renewed at the last minute by the anime adaptation’s popularity. Unlike Kyojin no Hoshi's protagonist, the one from Samurai Giants shares more Anti-Hero traits with Kajiwara’s Joe Yabuki, right down to his ending. It’s also Kajiwara’s most successful Shonen Jump manga. Also known for having Masami Kurumada in his team of assistants during the run.

  • Judo Sanka (Judo Eulogy, 1972-1975): The even more over-the top Spiritual Successor to Judo Icchokusen, with a story more similar to Yuuyake Banchou and Samurai Giants. Kajiwara’s biggest hit on Shonen Sunday, although parodied by Go Nagai on his own Oira Sukeban on the same magazine at the same time.

  • Bodyguard Kiba (1972-1974): A fictional Darker and Edgier counterpart to Karate Baka Ichidai in the vein of other contemporary Gekiga works such as Golgo 13, about the titular bodyguard's karate-filled adventures involving hitmen and mafia. More known for starting one of Sonny Chiba's best-known film roles. Followed by Shin Bodyguard Kiba: Karate Jigoku-hen (New/True Bodyguard Kiba: Hell Karate Story, 1974-1977).
    • Shin Karate Jigoku-hen (New Karate Hell Story, 1978-1982): Bodyguard Kiba's prequel, about the life of Kiba’s karate teacher. Probably Kajiwara’s most infamous work, reveling in Bloodier and Gorier, misogynistic and Sex Is Evil tropes – that said, the Karate Jigoku-hen series is for some reason one of his longest works.

  • Ai to Makoto (Ai and Makoto / Love and Truth, 1973-1976): A manga about a star-crossed Inter-Class Romance. Kajiwara’s most successful manly romance manga, and a Spiritual Successor to 1970-72's Taiyo no Koibito. It garnered him with critical acclaim, since Kajiwara was mostly seen as a one-note sports author until then. It was so popular that it was adapted into a live-action drama, a film trilogy and a Affectionate Parody film by Takashi Miikenote .

  • Ore to Kaneyan (Me and Kaneyan, 1973-1975): Yet another manga about a boy working to be a baseball star, but not as successful as Kyojin no Hoshi or Samurai Giants. Unlike Kajiwara’s other baseball manga, which are associated with the Yorimuri Giants, this one was made to promote the Chiba Lotte Marines.

  • Kurenai no Choushensha (Crimson Challenger / Kurenai the Challenger, 1973-1975): The Spiritual Successor to both Kick no Oni and Ashita no Joe, the plot follows an ex-football star who takes up kickboxing to defeat Garuda, the “god” of Muay Thai and a powerful authority on Thailand. Drawn by Ken Nakajo.

  • God Arm (1976-1977): Probably Kajiwara's weirdest work, a collaboration with artist Jiro Kuwata of 8th Man fame done to capitalize on Tokusatsu’s enduring fame . It’s about a karateka revived by an evil neonazi organization and turned an incredibly strong superhuman that saves the world against mechanical contraptions, beasts, robots, aliens and Kaiju made of monuments. It was planned to be Kajiwara’s next big hit after Karate Baka Ichidai, but it never made it anywhere.

  • Kakuto-shi Roma no Hoshi (Fighting Rome Star, 1976-1977): Another unusual Kajiwara work, about a roman gladiator fighting under Emperor Nero’s reign that turns to Christianity for love. It features tropes like Kyojin no Hoshi's Training from Hell, an evil villain organization who sends fighters to one of their own ex-members like Tiger Mask and a Inter-Class Romance like the one from Ai to Makoto. Of course, it features huge amounts of Artistic License – History.

  • Shikakui Jungle (Square Jungle, 1978-1981): A Stealth Sequel to Karate Baka Ichidai. It starts with a karateka wanting to avenge his brother’s death from the hands of kickboxer Benny Urquidez, but it slowly transforms into a pseudo-documentary of Japan’s then-current martial arts matches, such as New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s “style vs style” matches (It helps that Kajiwara was fixing some the matches and producing documentaries out of them). Drawn by Ken Nakajo.

  • Pro Wrestling Superstar Retsuden (Biographies of Pro Wrestling Superstars, 1980-1983): One of Kajiwara’s last notable manga, where he goes all-out in creating fictional biographies for wrestlers as Tiger Mask (whose gimmick Kajiwara lent to NJPW, at the same time he was working on his Tiger Mask revival), the Funk family, Stan Hansen, Abdullah the Butcher, André the Giant, Karl Gotch, Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan, Bruiser Brody, Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki, Mil Mascaras, Tiger Jeet Singh, and The Great Kabuki. It was suddenly stopped after Kajiwara’s arrest, much like all his other ongoing manga.

  • Otoko no Seiza (The constellation of a man, 1985-1987): An unusually easy-going autobiography of Kajiwara’s own life, from his family relationships and his work with many manga publishers, to his controversial relationship with wrestlers and martial artists. Kajiwara's most notable work after his arrest, although it was sadly unfinished for the author's death.

  • Manga adaptations of The King Kong Show, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Moby-Dick and The Count of Monte Cristo.

  • Fictional novel/manga biographies of baseball playersnote , boxersnote , wrestlers note  and sumo rikishi note .

Alternative Title(s): Asao Takamori


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