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Manga / Buster Keel!

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Buster Keel! is a shonen manga by Kenshirou Sakamoto that ran in Monthly Shonen Rival from 2008 to 2012.

In a very strange fantasy world, there are those that set out be Adventurers or more over Monster Users: Humans who can control said beasts with certain instruments (usually a guitar) and increase their power. However not all monsters in this world are visible to the human eye, some move around in human form either voluntarily to keep their powers in check or are forced into it to keep certain ones from going wild. The latter is the case of Keel, a Dragon Ape (yes you read right) who's stuck in human form and searching for a individual name Shiva who put him in such a predicament (the reason why is unknown however). As the story opens he meets Lavie, a female monster user and her flying pig monster, Mippy. After certain events, the two decide to work together to find Shiva (both with their own reasons for doing so) along the way they meet Blue, a Magic Warrior who's on his own quest and soon all three of their goals collide and the foursome form a party together. Say the least, Shōnen adventure ensures.


Don't be surprised if you find it similar to certain other manga, though please enjoy it as its own thing.

This manga provides examples of:

  • Attack Backfire: During the Gokuraku arc, Gold uses his gourd, hosting the Soul Eater, to trap inside the souls of Lavie and Keel, confident that they'll be destroyed. Unfortunately, the soul of the user takes the form they were born with, and thus Keel is a full-powered Dragon Ape.
  • Alternate Character Reading: Unusually, this is employed to form punny names with english letters with at least two characters: T-Ross (which reads as "Tau-Ros", a.k.a. Taurus) and H Roju (H stands for "Happy", which is the english for "Fuku" in " Fukurokuju).
  • Ax-Crazy: Out of all the Shikyou, Jack is probably the most crazy and killer-happy. When the Star-Eater begins its rampage, not only he breaks the Instruments, but he just sits down and laugh excitedly at the impending destruction.
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  • An Axe to Grind: Blue's weapons are the "Water Demon Axe-swords", a pair of unusual-looking axes with the blade shaped like the half of a crescent moon, with the tips pointing upwards. He can also put them together to form a single crescent-shaped labrys. Yancys of the "Thunder Wind Gods" team also wields a battleaxe while channeling her wind powers.
  • Beast Man:
    • T-Ross' subordinates seems to be beast monsters: he's seen relaxing with a (literal) bunny girl and a fox girl and his Elite Four are a goat-man, a tiger-man, a boar-man and a wolf-man.
    • There's actually an entire race, known as the "Monkey Tail Clan", to whom Keel's friends and foster mother belong to, resembling humans with moneky-like noses and tails. Keel himself is one, cursed by the ancient evil Dragon Diabolos to turn into the destructive Dragon Ape as vengeance for his defeat at the hand of the Monkey Tail clan.
  • Beast of the Apocalypse: When all the Sacred Instruments are bought together, the Divine Beast "Star-Eater" will be released and start to consume all the monsters in the world before eating the planet itself.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: The candidates seems to be the evil guild Ayakashi lead by "Black Cut" Setsuna. The real mastermind is actually Shiva.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Lily, Keel's adopted mother. But she pulls a Heel–Face Turn and gave her life for him and his adopted brothers.
  • Boobs of Steel: Sarah, Keel's mentor, is considered the strongest fighter in the world and one of the top 7 adventurers. She also has humongous physic-defying breasts bound in a low-cut black top. On the villainous side there's Dakki, who has equally large mammaries.
  • Boss in Mook's Clothing: Mippi himself isn't actually a Pig Devil, an F class monster, but a Hell Pig, an S class monster on par with the Four Evils and Keel.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Blue, by Dakki at the climax of the Adventurer's Circus arc. After her defeat, it's clear that all her servants were actually in this state.
  • Breath Weapon: Several monsters: Tutan can breath fire from one mouth and ice from the other, Mippi and Firebird can both shoot fire, while Kataiston the Gargoyle can shoot water instead. Dragons can breath out flames of their own color.
  • Brutish Bulls: T-Ross, the "Bull Demon King" and one of the Four Evils. On the one hand, he's the only one who seemingly uses nothing but physical attacks and brute strength. On the other hand, he behaves more like a mafia boss than a thuggish brute, and compared to the other Evils he's a Noble Demon.
  • Catchphrase: Keel: "Funky!". Blue: "Bingo!", both usually delivered once they've taken down their opponent.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Every single technique used by heroes and villains alike.
  • Color-Coded Elements: This becomes important during the tournament arc, where Dakki transforms certain warriors with elemental powers into her minions using her seven-color tails, each tail briefly turning in the respective element. The colors are Red for Fire, Blue for Water, White for Ice, Gold for Thunder, Silver for Wind, Brown for Earth and Black for Darkness.
  • Cool Old Guy: Shiro looks like a kind and wise old adventurer even before he reveals himself to be a White Dragon in human form.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Shiva Used to Be a Sweet Kid and once found a small, seemingly harmless monster. He took it home with him and befriended the creature... until the latter grew strong enough to destroy Shiva's village and kill all people within, leaving the poor Shiva so traumatized he eventually decided to hatch a plan to destroy all monsters from the face of the world.
  • Dangerous Forbidden Technique: During the battle against Jack, Tutan and Bumper have one: the former shoots a powerful laser beam from his eye, but this technique leaves him blinded for a while. Bumper can create a clone to attack in tandem with, but the fact that he has to split his mind between the two of them makes him dizzy.
  • Dem Bones: The aptly named "Bone", alongside the skeletal army summoned by Jack.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Star-Eater, a colossal monster with grasping baby hands for fingers and tongue who exists only to devour monsters, increase its power and eventually consume the planet. Word of God implies that it was of human origin.
  • Elemental Powers: Several in the series, though usually each user is limited to one element, with some exceptions. Dakki specifically looks after "Vessels" with elemental magic she can turn into her thralls using her tails. In a pinch, she can absorb them into herself, gaining elemental-powered tails and the ability to use them in any combo she prefers.
    • The Power of Rock: Lavie and Monster Users can play their melodies to power up their own creatures, heal others, relax them or put them to sleep.
    • Non-Elemental: Keel can partially transform his body into his original Dragon Ape form, though rather than use fire or other dragonish elements he justs expels huge amounts of air from his scales to dash around or deliver a powerful Megaton Punch or two.
    • Playing with Fire: Mipp and one of Tattoo's mouths can spit fire. The Paradise Bird Crem of Gokuraku Village uses fire and so does the woman from the Yan Yan team.
    • Making a Splash: Blue "the Water Demon" is able to manipulate water with his sword to form a shield or a mean to attack from afar.
    • An Ice Person: Chaboo, one of the contestants of the tournament, can use ice magic, usually in the shape of tableware or sweets.
    • Casting a Shadow: Setsuna is clad in black and can use pitch black demon swords leaving streams of darkness behind. One of Dakki's Vessels is Black, a user of Darkness who can perform a Shadow Pin.
    • Shock and Awe: Albra (and Gold) can manipulate lightning to enhace their attacks or shoot bullets from either the ground or the sky. They have a bad synergy with Water magic (as it can be used to deflect the lightnings).
    • Blow You Away: Yancys (and Silver) have power over Wind, usually manifested as tornadoes.
    • Dishing Out Dirt: Doryuu, one of the tournament's partecipants, uses earth in combat, usually as a literal Stone Wall or as fists made of stone.
    • Ki Manipulation: Fan and Pai of the Invincible Style uses Ki to protect themselves and deliver extremely powerful attacks.
  • Enemy Mine: The protaganist teaming with Tutan and Bumper against Jack
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Dakki tries to command the Star-Eater to do their bidding, but she gets devoured by it. Jack even mocks her for thinking it would obey them
  • Expy: Heartful -> Heartfilia? Also, from the same series, we could say that Keel, Lavie and Blue could be considered expies of Natsu, Lucy and Gray.
  • Femme Fatale: Dakki, became the Queen of Eight Kingdom and enthralled the king for her plans.
  • Four Is Death: The Four Evils (Shikyou), four extremely powerful and dreaded monsters who provides the main threat in the series. Two of them (Setsuna and T-Ross) have an evil organization running, while Dakki is ruling a kingdom from the shadows and Jack is a Lone Wolf Boss infesting the Necropolis.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: According to supplementar materials, out of the Four Evils only Jack is truly an S-class monster. All the others belong to monster races with lower classes note  but trained and gained enough power to ascend to S-class level threat.
  • Godhood Seeker: According to the legend, whoever finds the four Divine Instruments will be able to receive the power of a god, though both Keel and others such as Roju seem to dismiss the idea. Turns out, the four combined instruments can release the Divine Beast Star-Eater from its slumber, and by eating its core Shiva is able to turn into a self-proclaimed God.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Setsuna in truth is a demon sword the Water Demons made to fight back a powerful clan of monsters they were in war with. However, the bloodlust and wrath of its wielder were so great they lead him to take human form and turn on the very tribe.
  • Gratuitous English: Quite often, notably each chapter title is in english, and many powerful monsters use a combo of kanji with english furigana (such as the Dragon Ape Keel and Shiro, the White Dragon).
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Crem, she resurrects as its an ability of her species but loses her memory of her time with Keel
  • Hidden Buxom: Despite her child-like looks and mousy appearence, Maru of the Miracolous team actually hides some surprisingly big knockers under her shirt. When she appears in a bikini top she looks very embarassed about them.
  • Humongous Mecha: The ace in the sleeve of team Miracolous turns their little robot Nininmaru into a giant, ninja-themed mecha.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: Gomejii and his ex-girlfriend, Pannacotta: currently, the former is a bald midged whose head resembles a rice grain and the latter is an overweight, bitter woman, but in the past they were both slim, tall and good looking.
  • Jerk Jock: Charles, from the Adam's Proof of Heirloom arc, is an arrogant powerhouse knight who calls the legitimate heir weak and plans to take the proof from the group by force.
  • King Mook: The very first important enemy is the Lizard King, an A-class Monster who commands the normally shy Lizard Men into combat.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Tatun and Bumper were already though opponents, but once Setsuna show up things go bad pretty fast, showing how much the heroes must train to overcome.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • During the Gokuraku village arc, Gold and Silver destroy the altar needed to keep the vulcan sealed as they make their getaway.
    • Jack forces Bone (who had befriended Mippi) to fight against him with a cursed tattoo. When Bone manages to remember everything about his past life and overcome the spell, he blows up. Not satisfied, Jack then mock him and destroy his corpse, scattering the bones everywhere before using them to form his cage of bones.
  • Kitsune: "Seven Colors" Dakki, one of the Four Evils, is a buxom, seductive fox demoness with seven tails. She's confirmed to belong to the Monster Fox race.
  • Light Is Good: "Happy" Roju, Wiseman and leader of the Seven, is dressed like a high priest or a bishop and uses "Holy" magic. He's also a good man and a Reasonable Authority Figure.
  • Lizard Folk: The very first threat are a bunch of aggressive lizard men looking like chlamydosauri, forced to attack the city by their boss, the huge (and talking) Lizard King.
  • Lucky Seven: The Seven are seven ace adventurers (a fighter, a mechanicist, a Monster User, a summoner, a warrior, a sage and a magic expert) tasked with protecting the world from dangerous S-class monsters and fighting the evil Four Evils.
  • MacGuffin: The "Divine Instruments", a set of four mystical musical instruments which are said to grant the powers of a God to whoever gathers them. The Four Evils and the heroes are after them. Unfortunately, they're the can where the Divine Beast Star-Eater is sealed, and when they're brought together the monster is unleashed.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Shiva secretly masterminded the whole Feast of the Gods to summon the Star-Eater so that it would rid the world of Monsters.
  • Monkey King Lite: According to the author, the entire story is a Shout-Out to Journey to the West, and the main party is based on the main characters of the novel: Keel is Sun Wukong, Lavie is Tripitaka, Blue is Sha Wujing and Mippi is Zhu Baijie.
  • Monkey Morality Pose: The Three Monkey Brothers invoke this with their looks: Iwazaru wears a mask over his mouth, Mizaru a patch over both eyes and Kikazaru wears earmuffs. They also hide their Power Tattoo which gives them an upgrade but will kill them if they betray Ross.
  • Mons: Namely to Monster Users like Lavie, they range from pitiful to actually quite powerful. Lavie can technically use her powers on Keel and later Blue as well.
  • Monster Clown: Jack "The Clown", one of the scariest and most unhinged Four Evils who's also a Necromancer and a Psychopathic Manchild. Though he normally wear a pumpkin mak over his head and belongs to the Jack o' Lantern race.
  • Ms. Fanservice:
    • Though it doesn't come up often, Lavia in a bikini is nice for the eyes.
    • Sarah, Keel's master, is a beautiful feisty brunette wearing only a tanktop and shorts under her coat, and has the largest bust in the series.
    • Yancys is an Amazonian Beauty who wears a Chainmail Bikini 24/7.
    • On the villainous side, Dakki is a gorgeous vixen monster with humongous breasts who, when serious, fights in lingerie and corset.
  • Muggles Do It Better: When the heroes note  are having a hard time against Dakki, Juro (who' not a magic user) shows up with a massive gatling gun and manages to stall her until his gun is destroyed.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Mippy the Pig Devil is this to Lavie, a Monster User. Other examples include Shiro the White Dragon for Judy.
  • Not Quite Dead: Jack is reduced to a talking head, but recovers and join the other Shikyou for the Feast of the Gods.
  • One-Winged Angel: In such a manga with plenty of monsters, this is obvious and there are several examples:
    • T-Ross simply turns into a 50 foot giant form of himself to fight.
    • Dakki can reabsorb her elemental powers to turn her seven tails in tails made of elements.
    • The Star-Eater goes from a non-descript giant monster with hands for fingers and tongue and exposed muscle to a bigger form with huge jaws, several eyes, a body with swirly patterns and finally to a giant Blob Monster.
    • Finally, Shiva, upon absorbing the core of the Divine Beast, turns into a pointy-eared humanoid with markings over hi body and black feathery wings.
  • Our Dragons Are Different: Dragons in the series are apparently very powerful monsters. Two of them include Shiro the White Dragon (resembling a western dragon covered in white fur with antlers and whiskers) and Kuron the Black Dragon with the appearenc of a classical, black-scaled western dragon able to emit black flames, whose human form is that of a little girl. Keel meanwhile is a Dragon Ape (yes, in kanji with Gratuitous English), a massive simian creature with oversized arms covered in scales and a spike-tipped tail. In truth, Keel is the result of a curse cast by the evil Dragon Diabolos when he was slain by the Ape Clan: every 100 years, Diabolos reincarnates into a child of the Ape clan, making him a Dragon Ape capable of bringing untold destruction on the world.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Bumper of Ayakashi is a Vampire resembling a goth youth with sharp teeth. He's unique among his kind because he's a Daywalking Vampire immune to crosses and garlic, and his body is actually composed by hundreds of black bats he can transform into freely to avoid attacks and maul his opponents.
  • Overly Long Name: Mippy real name is Mishishippi Teramoto, once can't blame Lavie for going with the nickname
  • Poor Communication Kills: Had Keel bothered to the tell the Monkey Brothers about Lily's nature sooner, they wouldn't have wound up joining the organization that they were mean to be sold too in the first place.
  • Power Levels: Monster Class are used to mesure the power and danger level of various creatures around the world: starting with F for the really weak pests and working all the way up to A level for pretty powerful beasts. Of course, above the A level there's the S level, with monsters such a Dragons and the Four Evils, who are powerful enough to be a national threat.
  • The Power of Rock: Most of the ways to power up a monster.
  • Punny Name: The Gargoyle member of Ayakashi is called Kataiston, which sounds like "Hard Stone". Also, Bumper's name may also sound/be written as "Vampa", and he's a Vampire.
  • Religious and Mythological Theme Naming: Aside from Sarah, the Seven adventurers are named and themed after the Seven Lucky Gods: with Sarah standing forn Benzaiten (the only woman) we have Happy Roju (Fukurokuju), Shiva (Daikokuten), B-Shamon (Bishamonten), Hotei (... Hotei), Juro (Jurojin) and Ebinyasu (Ebisu).
  • The Rival: The Muteki School of Fan Sensei is this to Sarah's Musou School, with the former accusing the latter of taking martial arts frivolously as a game. In truth, he's still sour because, when they were co-disciples, she refuesed to go on a date with him.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: The main reason for Keel's quest is to find a certain music to undo his transformation Shiva put on him.
  • Shout-Out: Aside from the obvious references to other shonen manga, the series has a surprising amount to quotations and nods to Chinese classics such as Journey to the West and Investiture of the Gods.
  • Sink-or-Swim Mentor: Sarah's standard method of training involves kicking her trainees down a cliff into some dangerous enviroment (such as a jungle infested with monsters or down a waterfall). If the trainee can survive a week on his own, good for him.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Both Blue and Keel gets one during the battle against Dakki: the former when transformed into "Water-color Blue", the latter when Shiva unlocks his other arm and undoes more of the Fuujinka. Blue snaps out thanks to Lavia, while Keel recovers when Blue calls him out.
  • Tail Slap: Halfway through, Lavia's song manages to allow Keel to use his Dragon Ape tail in combat, both to slap and to pierce. Also, Dakki's main weapons.
  • Temporary Bulk Change: Hotei is normally fat and rotund, but can become skinny if he uses too much power.
  • Tournament Arc: The Adventurer's Circus arc. Keel, Lavie and Blue all enter it. Since it's a paired event, Lavie and Blue team together while Keel teams with a mysterious masked figured who's later revealed to be Shiva.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Dakki grows visibly more and more irritated and desperate when the battle against Keel and Blue starts going against her favor.
  • Villainous Crush: Apparently, T-Ross has one with Sarah, Keel's Sexy Mentor.
  • Villainous Valor:
    • T-Ross is an evil crime boss who uses magical tattoos to control his associates, tattoos which will explode if the underling is not loyal. That being said, he concedes his defeat when Keel manages to snap his horn, his top four underlings are ready to die for him and he does seem to care for them. He has a downright Heel–Face Turn when his Shitennou are devoured by the Star-Eater, and falls dead after a Heroic Sacrifice.
    • Setsuna is The Dreaded even among his men. When Tutan confronts him over the "Feast of the Gods" and looks ready to fight him over it, Setsuna praises his strength of character and lets him be.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Shiva is the Big Bad, but his reason for exterminating all the monsters was to avoid having other people go through what he went through. However, he's ready to resort to violence on anyone daring to stand in his way.
  • What's Up, King Dude?: After the Adventurer's Circus arc, it's painfully clear that Keel has no manners with royalty. Fortunately, the king of Eight is a mellow enough guy to let it slide.
  • You Killed My Father:
    • Keel's adopted brothers think he did this when they had walked in on him standing over their adopted mother's body in the past Turns out, no he didn't. Keel had discovered their mother's true nature and she had killed herself to both to apologize for lying to them and to keep them out of her evil organizations hands. It was just a case of bad timing on the brothers' part. Not helped that Keel went tight lipped when they had asked him about it.
    • Blue wants to murder Setsuna to avenge his mother and his Water Demon clan.