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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 fathered his sixth child with, Pai Hsiao-Yen, who was the center of a tragic 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 publishing novels and stories until the late sixties - however, his popularity would explode after writing sports manga in The '60s, most notoriously the enormously successful baseball manga Kyojin no Hoshi — it started his most successful era, where he managed to write simultaneously many classics for different publishers, like Tomorrow's 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 gravely strain their relationship for life. It's also on this decade when Kajiwara would ultimately capitalize on his fame and contacts with wrestlers and martial artists to work as a match promoter, 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, which Kajiwara heavily pushed in his manga Shikakui Jungle as the climatic real-life showdown between his two specialities, Professional Wrestling against Karate — nowadays, despite its surrounding controversynote , it's considered in Japan to be one of the most important professional wrestling matches of all time and one of their predecessors 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 in 1983 after a violent event that brought to light violent incidents of his past and made him an Unperson to Japanese medianote . Finally, in 1987, and with a much more relaxed output partly caused by his failing health, he died of pancreatitis while writing what would become his final works. His work wouldn't be critically reevaluated until the mid-'90s.

Notable artists influenced by him include Naoki Urasawa, Keisuke Itagaki, Takashi Shimada or Masami Kurumada (who was artist Kou Inoue's assistant during Samurai Giants), and he was even name-dropped several times on Bakuman。 He was also a huge influence on the Fighting Game genre on the '80s and early '90s, specially on the Hiryū no Ken, Street Fighter or the Fatal Fury series.

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

Works with their own pages:

  • Tomorrow's Joe (あしたのジョー / Tomorrow's Joe, 1968-1973 — Shōnen Magazine) (as Asao Takamori)
  • Tiger Mask (タイガーマスク, 1968-1971 — Bokura / Shōnen Magazine)
    • Tiger Mask Nisei (タイガーマスク二世, 1980-1983 — Shōnen Popy / Zōkan Shōnen Magazine)

Other notable works:

  • Champion Futoshi (チャンピオン太, 1962-1963 — Shōnen Magazine): 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 successor 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 Tatsuo Yoshida, one of the founders of Tatsunoko Production, who also collaborated with Kajiwara in the boxing manga 0-sen Champion, aviation manga Ōzora Sanshirō and the judo-themed follow-up Harris Mu-dan.

  • Shin Senkan Yamato (新戦艦大和 / New Battleship Yamato, 1963-1964 — Shōnen Gahō): A flying Battleship Yamato and its crew defend Japan from the American Mad Scientist that commissioned 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. Drawn by Tetsuya Dan, a pulp novel artist.

  • Kyojin no Hoshi (巨人の星 / Star of the Giantsnote , 1966-1971 — Shōnen Magazine): Hyuma Hoshi, a frail and impoverished boy, is harshly trained by his father Ittetsu (himself an ace baseball player before a WWII injury) to become the best baseball pitcher in Japan and one of the Yomiuri Giants' best stars at all costs. This work, which immediately became one of the manga industry's biggest hits, singlehandedly codified the 60s-70s spokon ("Sports" + "Kikon" / perseverance) manga genre, which focused on tropes like extremely sadistic physical and mental training, ascetic devotion to self-improvement, near-quixotic self-sacrifice, isolation from friendships and other percieved weaknesses, obsessive rivalries, physics-defying signature moves and tragic endings. Drawn by Noboru Kawasaki, also known for Inakappe Taishō and The Song of Tentomushi — his other major work with Kajiwara was Otoko no Jōken (男の条件 / Qualifications of a man, 1968-1969 — Shonen Jump), a drama about a poor boy struggling to become a manga artist, which was heavily referenced by Bakuman。
    • Shin Kyojin no Hoshi (新巨人の星 / New Star of the Giants, 1976-1977 — Yomiuri Weekly): Kyojin no Hoshi's much less popular sequel. After dissappearing from the public eye since a career-ending injury, an adult Hyuma Hoshi unexpectedly returns to the Giants as a pinch hitter/runner, and later as a pitcher with his uninjured arm. Unlike most of his old colleagues and rivals, Hyuma seems to be cursed to live a life fully dedicated to baseball — will he take his body to harmful extremes with the help of his father, just like in the past? Drawn once again by Noboru Kawasaki, whose style became more complex. Recieved a Stealth Sequel in Kyojin no Samurai Honoo (巨人のサムライ炎 / The Samurai Flame of the Giantsnote , 1979-1980 — Yomiuri Weekly), drawn by Joya Kagemaru, where Hyuma acts as the titular baseball player Honoo Mizuki's coach.

  • Yuuyake Bancho (夕やけ番長 / Sunset Bancho, 1967-1971 — Bōken Ō & Shonen Champion): Chuuji Akagi is transferred to a school overtaken by a delinquent 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 tragic endingsnote . Notable for being one of the very first delinquent-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 (柔道一直線 / Judo Straight Line, 1967-1971 — Shōnen King): A judo-based manga where the protagonist beats other Japanese and foreign judoka with outlandish techniques. It was adapted into a popular TV show, mostly known today for being the Spiritual Predecessor of the Kamen Rider TV show. Drawn by Shinji Nagashima, who also did in the same year with Kajiwara the spy manga Chōsensha AAA, and would later become one of the pioneers of the Seinen demographic — although Nagashima would abandon Judo Icchokusen halfway after creative differences, and the much less known Yuruzu Saito (best known as Dynamite Tetsu) would step up to end it.

  • Giant Typhoon (ジャイアント台風, 1968-1971 — Shōnen King): 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 an auto-Alternate Company Equivalent to Tiger Mask, since both of them were created by the same writer-artist team (Ikki Kajiwara as "Asao Takamori" & Naoki Tsuji) during the same years, although for different publishers. Naoki Tsuji, also known for Zero-sen Hayato and Bakuhatsu Goro, would become another of Tatsunoko Production's founders.

  • Kick no Oni (キックの鬼 / The Kick Demon, 1969-1971 — Shōnen Gahō): Kajiwara (as Asao Takamori)'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 Kentaro "Ken" Nakajo, who would become one of Kajiwara’s most faithful artists and one of his closest friends (both of them had similar reputation as tough big guys feared by their coworkers).

  • Niji wo Yobu Ken (虹をよぶ拳 / Fist calling a rainbow, 1969-1971 — Bōken Ō): A fictional counterpart to Kick no Oni, this time starring 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, Masutatsu Oyama is credited as an advisor. Drawn by Jiro Tsunoda, who would go on to do many occult-themed manga after falling out with Kajiwara.

  • Akakichi no Eleven (赤き血のイレブン / Red-blooded Eleven, 1970-1971 — Shōnen King): One of the first notable manga about Association Football, ten years before Captain Tsubasa hit big time, and before the Japanese audience knew much about the sport. Drawn by Mitsuyoshi Sonoda (of Akatsuki Sentoutai fame. He also drew Kajiwara's Seishun kyūjō, Hinotama Racer Kamikaze and Captain Scarlet in 1967), who was infamous within the industry for being rather unreliable despite his talent — as was somewhat expected, he had to be replaced later by the virtually unknown Shosuke Fukaoji.

  • Karate Baka Ichidai (空手バカ一代 / A Karate-Crazy Life, 1971-1977 — Shōnen Magazine): Kajiwara's major work during the seventies, right after his work on Kyojin no Hoshi ended. It's a work very loosely based on Masutatsu 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 retooled after a change of artists because Oyama's life had already been completed, and it started focusing on Kyokushin disciples such as Hideyuki Ashihara more than on Oyama, which helped the manga recover from its slump — and to create an ideological split inside the Kyokushin organization. Drawn By Jiro Tsunoda (first half) and Joya Kagemaru (second half): the former abandoned the manga after falling out with the Kajiwara brothers (and to deepen the wound, Oyama would push Tsunoda to draw a new manga based on himself, after being disenchanted by the Kagemaru part), and the latter would go on to become a regular Kajiwara collaborator.

  • Samurai Giants (侍ジャイアンツ, 1971-1974 — Shōnen Jump): 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 acceptable audiences. 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 Shōnen Jump manga. Also known for having Masami Kurumada as one of the assistants to artist Kou Inoue (whose work is mostly baseball manga) during the run.

  • Judo Sanka (柔道讃歌 / Judo Eulogy, 1972-1975 — Shonen Sunday): The even more over-the top Spiritual Successor to Judo Icchokusen, with a story more similar to Yuuyake Banchou and Samurai Giants. One of Kajiwara’s biggest hits on Shōnen Sunday, although parodied by Go Nagai on his own Oira Sukeban on the same magazine at the same time. Drawn by Hiroshi Kaizuka, one of the earliest Shonen Jump mainstays.

  • Bodyguard Kiba (ボディガード牙, 1972-1974 — Weekly Sankei): 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 earliest famous film roles. Drawn by Ken Nakajo. Followed by Shin Bodyguard Kiba: Karate Jigoku-hen (新 ボディガード牙 カラテ地獄変 / New/True Bodyguard Kiba: Hell Karate Story, 1974-1977), also drawn by Ken Nakajo.
    • Shin Karate Jigoku-hen (新カラテ地獄変 / New Karate Hell Story, 1978-1982 — Weekly Sankei): A prequel to Bodyguard Kiba about the life of Kiba’s karate teacher, who is very loosely based on Masutatsu Oyama. Probably Kajiwara’s most infamous Darker and Edgier work, reveling in bloody, misogynistic and sex-filled tropes – that said, the Karate Jigoku-hen series is one of his longest works. Drawn by Ken Nakajo and Joya Kagemaru. It would be followed by Seihen Karate Jigoku-hen (正編カラテ地獄変, 1982-1983), cancelled after Kajiwara's arrest and also drawn by Ken Nakajo and Joya Kagemaru.

  • Ai to Makoto (愛と誠 / Ai and Makoto, or Love and Truth, 1973-1976 — Shōnen Magazine): 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 (太陽の恋人 / Lovers of the Sun). 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 . Drawn by Takumi Nagayasu, best known overseas for drawing The Legend of Mother Sarah.

  • Ore to Kaneyan (おれとカネやん / Me and Kaneyan, 1973-1975 — Shōnen King): 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 Yomiuri Giants, this one was made to promote the Chiba Lotte Marines. Drawn by Takeshi Koshiro, Kajiwara's longest-lasting artist (from 1963 to 1985), although most of their collaborations were unsuccessful.

  • Kurenai no Choushensha (紅の挑戦者 / Crimson Challenger, or Kurenai the Challenger, 1973-1975 — Shōnen Magazine): The Spiritual Successor to both Kick no Oni and to a lesser extent Tomorrow's Joe (and released shortly after the latter ended), 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 on the level of the King), thanks to the training of an impoverished and peg-legged but sadistic Karate master who is obsessed on defeating Garuda. Also the last title where the pseudonym "Asao Takamori" was used. Drawn by Ken Nakajo.

  • God Arm (ゴッド・アーム, 1976-1977 — Shōnen Sunday): Probably Kajiwara's most unusual 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's temporary slump, but it never made it anywhere.

  • Kakuto-shi Roma no Hoshi (格闘士ローマの星 / Fighting Rome Star, 1976-1977 — Shōnen Champion): 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. As might be expected, it features huge amounts of historical anachronisms. Drawn and partially written by Masami Fukushima, known for his unusual drawing style featuring exaggerated muscle anatomy.

  • Shikakui Jungle (四角いジャングル / Square Jungle, 1978-1981 — Shōnen Magazine): A Stealth Sequel to Karate Baka Ichidai, expanding the chronicles of Kyokushin Karate with (mostly) real kickboxing and pro wrestling events. It starts with a karateka wanting to avenge his brother’s death from the hands of kickboxer Benny Urquidez, but it gradually transforms into a pseudo-documentary of Japan’s then-ongoing martial arts matches, such as New Japan Pro-Wrestling’s “style vs style” matches (It helps that Kajiwara was heavily pushing some of the matches and producing documentaries out of them). Drawn by Ken Nakajo.

  • Pro Wrestling Superstar Retsuden (プロレススーパースター列伝 / Biographies of Pro-Wrestling Superstars, 1980-1983 — Shōnen Sunday): 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 to great success, while cross-promoting 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. Drawn by Kunichika Harada, who would go on to do manga based on real life events after Kajiwara's writing style. It was suddenly halted after Kajiwara’s arrest, much like all his other ongoing manga.

  • Otoko no Seiza (男の星座 / The constellation of a man, 1985-1987 — Weekly Manga Goraku): 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. Drawn by Kunichika Harada of Pro Wrestling Superstar Retsuden, who would volunteer to work with Kajiwara even after his infamous scandals, and dedicated decades later his comeback manga at age 62 to Kajiwara.

  • 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 .

Media adaptations:

  • Champion Futoshi (1962-1963, Fuji Television + Nippon Art Film Company — 26 ep.)
  • Judo Icchokusen (1969-1971, Toei / TBS — 92 ep. + extended episode film)
  • Taiyo no Koibito (1971, Toei / NET — 13 ep.)
  • Ai to Makoto (1974-1975, Tokyo Movie / Tokyo 12 Channel — 26 ep.)
  • Tenkaichi Omono-den (1976-1977, Daiei / Tokyo 12 Channel — 26 ep.)


  • Kyojin no Hoshi (1968-1971, Tokyo Movie — 182 ep. + 4 compilation movies)
    • Kyojin no Hoshi [Tokubetsu-hen]: Mouko Hanagata Mitsuru (Kyojin no Hoshi [Special Edition]: Hanshin Tigers' Hanagata Mitsuru) (2002, Tokyo Movie — 13 ep., Kyojin no Hoshi alternate cut)
    • Kyojin no Hoshi [Tokubetsu-hen]: Chichi Ittetsu (Kyojin no Hoshi [Special Edition]: Ittetsu the father) (2007, Tokyo Movie — 13 ep. Kyojin no Hoshi-Shin Kyojin no Hoshi II alternate cut)
  • Yuuyake Bancho (1968-1969, Tokyo TV Douga — 26 ep. aired on 156 10-minute segments)
  • Tiger Mask (1969-1971, Toei Animation — 105 ep. + 3 compilation movies)
  • Kyojin no Hoshi tai Tetsuwan Atom (Kyojin no Hoshi vs. Astro Boy) (1969, Tokyo Movie + A-Productions + Mushi Productions — TV Special)
  • Tomorrow's Joe (1970-1971, Mushi Productions — 79 ep. + compilation movie)
  • Akakichi no Eleven (1970-1971, Tokyo TV Douga — 52 ep.)
  • Kick no Oni (1970-1971, Toei Animation — 26 ep. + 1 extended episode film)
  • Karate Baka Ichidai (1973-1974, A-Productions — 47 ep.)
  • Samurai Giants (1973-1974, A-Productions — 48 ep. + 2 extended episode films)
  • Judo Sanka (1974, Tokyo Movie — 27 ep.)
  • Shin Kyojin no Hoshi (1977-1978, Tokyo Movie — 52 ep. + 2 extended episode films)
    • Shin Kyojin no Hoshi II (1979, Tokyo Movie — 23 ep.)
  • Tomorrow's Joe 2 (1980-1981, Tokyo Movie — 47 ep. + compilation movie)
  • Tiger Mask Nisei (1981-1982, Toei Animation — 33 ep.)
  • Kyojin no Hoshi (1982, Sankyo Movie — animated film)
  • Shin Karate Jigoku-hen (1990, Deck + Studio Hibari — 2 OVA)


  • Tomorrow's Joe (1970, Nikkatsu)
  • Bodyguard Kiba / The Bodyguard (1973, Toei)
    • Bodyguard Kiba: Hissatsu Sankaku Tobi / Karate Killer (1973, Toei)
  • Ai to Makoto / The Legend of Love & Sincerity (1974, Shochiku / Geiei)
    • Zoku: Ai to Makoto / The Legend of Love & Sincerity: Continuation (1975, Shochiku)
    • Ai to Makoto: Kanketsu-hen / The Legend of Love & Sincerity: Conclusion (1976, Sankyo Movie / Shochiku)
  • Kenka karate kyokushinken / Champion of Death / Karate Bullfighter (1975, Toei)
    • Kyokuskin kenka karate burai ken / Karate Bear Fighter (1975, Toei)
    • Karate Baka Ichidai/ Karate for Life (1977, Toei)
  • Wakai kizoku-tachi: 13-kaidan no Maki / 13 Steps of Maki: The Young Aristocrats (1975, Toei)
  • Koibito misaki (1977, Shochiku)
  • Karate Daisenso / Karate Wars (1978, Sankyo Movie — original story written and produced by Ikki Kajiwara, starring Hisao Maki)
  • Shikakui Jungle: Kakutōgi sekaiichi (1978, Sankyo Movie / Shochiku — Documentary)
    • Shikakui Jungle: Gekitotsu Kakutōgi (1979, Sankyo Movie / Shochiku — Documentary)
    • Shikakui Jungle: Kakutōgi Olympics (1980, Sankyo Movie / Shochiku — Documentary)
  • Ningen Kyoki: Ai to ikari no ring (1992, Maxam — V-cinema)
  • Bodyguard Kiba (1993, KSS — V-cinema)
    • Bodyguard Kiba: Shura no Mokushiroku / Bodyguard Kiba 2: Apocalypse of Carnage (1994, KSS — V-cinema)
    • Bodyguard Kiba: Shura no Mokushiroku 2 / Bodyguard Kiba 2: Apocalypse of Carnage 2 (1995, KSS — V-cinema)
  • 46-okunen no koi / Big Bang Love, Juvenile A (2006, "46-okunen no koi Partners" — Based on Shonen no Elegy from Ato Masaki, a pen name for Kajiwara brothers' collaborations)
  • Tomorrow's Joe (2011, Toei)
  • Ai to Makoto / For Love's Sake (2012, Kadokawa / Toei)
  • Tiger Mask (2013, ARK Entertainment)

Alternative Title(s): Asao Takamori