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Manga / Crows

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"There's nothing wrong with being a Crow. When you compare them to the poor caged birds that have forgotten how to fly, Crows are much better."

Crows is a Japanese high school delinquent manga series by Hiroshi Takahashi, which ran in Monthly Shonen Champion from 1990 to 1998. The story begins when Harumichi Bōya transfers into the second year at Suzuran High School. Suzuran is notorious for its delinquent students who are nicknamed 'Crows' because of their dark uniforms and inauspicious nature. Quickly enough Bōya meets a group centered around Hiromi Kirishima who are trying to challenge the school boss Hideto Bandō. From there the story follows the exploits of Suzuran students and the teen-aged delinquents of various surrounding schools and gangs.

The series was adapted into two-episode OVA by Knack Productions which cover the first three volumes of the manga. Spawned three live-action films: the Takashi Miike directed films Crows Zero (2007) and Crows Zero 2 (2009), and Crows Explode (directed by Toshiaki Toyoda) in 2014. The films are not direct adaptations but take place before the events of the manga. Several characters from the manga appear in the movies but not the main character Bōya.


Hiroshi Takahashi also wrote a continuation called Worst, which ran in Monthly Shounen Champion from 2002 to 2013. In 2019, the series had a live-action crossover with the similarly gang-themed High&Low franchise for its fifth film installment, HiGH&LOW: The Worst. That movie takes place sometime after the main series, following a new generation of Hosen Academy characters as they go up against SWORD's Oya High School.


Crows provides examples of:

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  • A Father to His Men: Certain characters like Bulldog, Butcher and Hana are followed not just because they're strong, but because they're true leaders. Many would-be leaders learn the hard way that they have their men's fear, not their respect. Somewhat subverted with Amachi, whose followers understand that he is not going to show that he cares for them, but they seem to follow him regardless with the implication being the power of hate unites them.
  • All-Loving Hero: Hana. Compared to Harumichi or any Crow's protagonist in general, Hana is well liked, respected, and even idolized by his friends, schoolmates, and even his enemies. It's to the point that Bisuko, the strongest member of the Manji empire stated that if Hana joined Manji, Bisuko would push him to the moon for leadership.
  • Anime Hair: Not in a very exaggerated tone, but most of them come across as having messy, heavily spiked, extremely curly, or even stylish hairdo.
  • The Berserker: Guriko seldom fights unless he is directly annoyed by someone, but once he gets going he will attack no only the target of his fury, but also their friends, his own friends, and even unrelated bystanders. It's these indiscriminate rampages, where his eyes glow white and his mouth becomes a roaring maw half the size of his face,, that earned him the title Demon King.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Tsukishima Hana is polite, friendly, and will always help everyone in need. He also has a deadly uppercut, and will certainly beat you up if you mess with him or his friends. Oh. and he is also the first Boss Of Suzuran.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Harumichi Bouya is a goofy perverted idiot. but pushed him too far, and you're as good as dead.
    • Zetton is arguably the weirdest student in Suzuran history. He has childish interests, underdresses in winter and plays in a kiddie pool in the summer, grins ear to ear and laughs out loud in moments of peril. He's often The Comically Serious or Comically Missing the Point, and is unintelligent even by Suzuran thug standards. He's also strong enough to earn Bouya's respect, the toughest freshman of his year, a gifted leader and surprisingly perceptive.
  • Blood Brothers: Crows and Worst are both full of these, but none stronger than Bouya and Bulldog. They become friends the instant they meet, confide in each other and have each other's backs. Their loyalties to each other supercede the politics and codes of delinquent culture.
  • Boxing Battler: Ryuushin has a background in boxing, which gives him a leg up on the average Unskilled, but Strong thug, though he isn't above kicks or grappling in a real fight. After he steps down as the leader of TFOA he pursues the sweet science professionally.
  • The Cameo : Some of the Crows characters besides those that are frenchmen in the series made a brief appearance in the WORST sequel, for example :
    • Honjou one of the Ebi Trio from Harumichi's group in Crows, appears briefly to scold Takumi because of slacking off (actually taking a little break), and mostly... not introducing him to some girls.
    • Two of the 4th Armament members under Ryushin, Vice head Juuzou and Samejima, pays their respect when Tesshou died.
    • A silhouette of Genji's fight with Rindaman appears in WORST chapter 89, after Sajima, the freshmen winner of Hana's senior year retell his comrades of watching during his elementary school. It is alsow followed by other Silhouettes of Suzuran's leaders or great figures, Genji, Bouya, Serizawa, and Katsuragi, name drop by Sajima.
    • Kuzugami Tatsuo, leader of Manji's Kuzugami grouo and Bouya's final opponent in Crows, who caused havok and chaos in the final arc of the series, made a brief appearance in Bisuko's flashback in the Manji vs Toarushi arc.
  • Calling Your Attack: Butcher, jealous of some other characters' flashy Signature Move, decides to proclaim his special technique to be the Killer Flaming Car! Unfortunately, he only uses it once, and later regrets forgetting to use it during other fights. Hilariously, it's actually a simple back throw from Judo, which even the naive Hana recognizes as extremely mundane.
  • Chick Magnet: Hanaki Guriko. He has 8 girlfriends and is always seen on his phone talking to different girls.
    • Takumi has a pretty face for a delinquent, and is often seen being fawned over by girls. Unlike Guriko, he doesn't seek the attention, or seem to particularly care for it.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Weapons, ambushes, ganging up- a lot of dirty fighting goes down in Crows. Even some of the strongest fighters and most noble characters are not above pulling the old Look Behind You or a Dynamic Entry at an enemy from their blindside. It becomes a bit of a plot point in WORST for characters to use weapons of some kind (usually pipes or a variant of) to even the score against multiple opponents. One infamous and comedic example in Crows is King Joe using a frying pan to beat up six of his fellow freshmen on his war to being boss of Housen.
  • Contrasting Sequel Main Character: While many characters in WORST are contrasting characters, one that truly sticks out is Amachi vs Bulldog and The Amachi Army to The Kurotaki Alliance. Amachi took over the turfs that were once Kurotaki Alliance turf and his personality is a contrast in every way to Bulldog's. Bulldog was defined by his goofy personality and his ability to unite people under him on charisma and strength. Amachi, even when his development kicks in, is a stoic and quiet individual who unites people with much more darker means save for his true companions and even then they started off on bad terms. Bulldog may smack some of his men around but it is more comedic and because they're being silly, but Amachi goes out of his way to abuse people who failed him. One of Bulldog's defining fights ended with him not pressing further after beating his foe, Amachi went out of his way to break his opponent's arm. While Bulldog treated his second-in-command with nothing but respect and the second-in-command was more of a straight man to him, Amachi met his future second-in-command and beat him to a pulp and the relationship is more of a no respect relationship with Amachi never directly praising his second-in-command. Bulldog's group was not very proactive in conquering schools, usually defending themselves from others such as Parko or the Ishii brothers, many of the people who joined Bulldog joined willingly and were happy once they did it. Amachi beat down leaders of schools and put in his own figureheads to make the schools totally subservient to him. The Kurotaki Alliance, at least in Bulldog's generation, ends on a high note with a bright new head and a new lease on life. The Amachi Army's ending is never stated to advance beyond the small crew it became once it was beaten by The Hana-Gumi. Most tellingly the difference between Amachi and Bulldog is how they deal with their "Suzuran Boss". Bulldog and Bouya had a close relationship, one that went beyond delinquent culture. Amachi and Hana started off on a bad foot, and had a huge confrontation that ended with Hana and him sharing their views on how to live after losing loved ones. While Amachi did change for the better after losing to Hana, he never really improved his attitude towards Hana, but did improve his attitude towards the men who stuck with him. Bulldog did become a better leader after meeting Bouya, but Bouya never really had to kick his ass for Bulldog to become the man he ended his term as The Kurotaki Alliance leader as.
    • Hana and Bouya contrast quite a bit as well. A lot of Bouya's arcs involve him getting taken out only for him to come back pissed and beat down his foes, while with Hana that almost never happens and the most he gets taken out is by a cold. Bouya wanted nothing to do with delinquent culture and wanted to be friends, Hana is similar but also different in how he views delinquent culture. Hana views it more as being a fireman, and likes putting out the fires, while Bouya needs motivation to get involved in most of the squabbles he gets into. Bouya was mostly a lone wolf, not going out of his way to show he cared a lot about his loved ones, trying to keep it on the down low. An example being when he did things like stay up all night waiting to see if Bulldog was okay after getting hit by a truck. Hana, however, is very open with his love for his friends and even people who aren't his friends. Examples being going to a classmate's mom's funeral and openly weeping with them, winning said classmate over to his side even though that wasn't Hana's intention. Bouya never trains and seems to stay at the same power throughout the story, is a relatively heavy smoker, and while he uses headbutts a lot he doesn't have a signature move. Hana trains constantly and his power is constantly growing throughout the series, never smokes, and has a signature move in the form of his uppercut. Most of all, one of Bouya's main traits is his his pursuit of women and love of lewd movies, smacking Mako when he misunderstood Mako's "exciting videos" as pornography. Hana, meanwhile, saw a small hint of lewdness and had a head rush so bad he was dazed for at least a day.
      • The Moonlight Brothers to The Bitou Brothers. The Bitou Brothers debuted as a two brother unit, mourning their oldest brother Makio who would have graduated by their debut if he wasn't murdered. The Moonlight Brothers have all of their brothers and seemed to have been born one after the other, with almost all of them attending Housen at the same time. While the older brothers of The Moonlight Brothers are noted to be strong individuals, they were never truly considered legendary compared to Makio Bitou. Also unlike Makio, they were leaders but never became Boss of Housen, the oldest being an underling of King Joe's until he graduated. The second oldest Moonlight Brother never got to be boss either, with the third brother Mitsumasa becoming new boss. The Bitou Brothers' reign ended with a young freshman, King Joe, taking over and rising up. The Moonlight Brothers' reign ended calmly, with the youngest brother grooming a young protege to take the reigns and it went smoothly.

      • The Third Moonlight Brother, Mitsumasa and previous known bosses King Joe and Bitou Tatsuya contrast each other possibly the most. Mitsumasa does not remotely have the same hero worship of his brother that Tatsuya did, and Joe is as far as we know an only child. Technically, Tatsuya is a legacy as his older brother attended and was the boss, until he was murdered. Mitsumasa is also a legacy in terms of being a leader in Housen, but he is the first Moonlight Brother to be the boss OF Housen. Mitsumasa even compares his situation to a second generation talent in show business getting in on their parents' fame. Joe had neither of these luxuries, and had to claw his way up to the top of Housen by tooth, nail, and frying pan. In fact, when Mitsumasa was given the position of boss of Housen and was having trouble commanding respect, Tora reminded Mitsumasa that Mitsumasa doesn't nearly have it as hard as King Joe. Especially since King Joe had NO ONE, but Mitsumasa had his brothers and some willing followers. Tatsuya had it the easiest of the three, he spent a little while pretending to be the underling of Machida but HE was top dog. Joe's match with Kousei, head of TFOA at the time, was a quiet affair and no one really knows who won. Tatsuya beating Ryuushin was legendary in his era, especially since Tatsuya was younger than a more unrestrained Ryuushin. Mitsumasa never had such a clash with the TFOA head during his time as boss. Tatsuya was cunning from the start, lying in wait and striking when it was best to, but was using the war with Suzuran as a way to work out his feelings towards his brother. When Joe finally has a war with Suzuran in his final year, Joe uses it as a chance to teach Mitsumasa about leadership and actually wins his match for Housen in a deciding match. In all of the history of Housen vs Suzuran, Joe is the first man on record to accomplish this. Mitsumasa finally gets to fight Suzuran (in the form of Hana) in his final year but this was a clash of friendly rivals, not fierce enemies like Joe and Suzuran or Tatsuya and Suzuran. Tatsuya was said by Bouya to be fast on his feet but doesn't have a lot of power, while Joe was known for being a big beefcake of a man. Mitsumasa seems to be a mix of the two, stated to have a great talent for fighting and was shown to hit hard when he did.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Multiple examples. Most of the characters that Bouya and Hana beat become their allies or just formed a friendly rivalry with them.
  • Delinquent Hair: More characters than not. Pompadours, regents, crew cuts, punch perms, Mohawks, buzzcuts, and top knots galore. More hair dye and gel than you can shake a stick at.
  • The Dreaded: There are characters who are regarded as monsters or legends due mostly to their strenght in both Crows and Worst series.
    • Rindaman. Even though he never takes sides with anybody in the group aside from standing idly by watching the conflicts, he's still actually the force to be reckoned with.
    • Hanaki Guriko. Much like the Rindaman, never participate in any of the conflicts (unless provoked), and is regarded as the strongest guy in all of Toarushi. The mention of his name is enough to give fear and uneasiness especially for those who have felt his wrath before. He's arguably even more feared than Rindaman, as unlike the stoic and distant Megumi, Guriko has a very short fuse and will hunt you down if you cross him, accidentally or no. One example being finding and beating multiple college rugby players and making the remaining players cower and apologize to him. Rindaman was like a bear in a cave, but Guriko is a walking landmine.
    • Suzuran itself. Anyone who attends the Crows school is already feared by outsiders, as rumors have it the average Suzuran student could be the strongest at any lesser school.
  • Drugs Are Bad: One of the few things almost every major faction or kingpin of Crows and Worst can agree on is a distaste or outright hatred of drugs. Using drugs will get you banned from most groups, and pushing them is practically suicide in most turfs. One of the early arcs in WORST involved a man named Ogawa Chiharu coming from Osaka and hanging out with The Armament because he got violent when a man he respected admitted to selling drugs. This man happened to be the third branch head of their gang, so Chiharu had to lay low for a bit. It quietly resolved with it being implied the vice-president possibly beat the information out of the third branch head before said head quietly resigned.
  • Even Evil Hasloved Ones: There are a few examples of bad guys who is shown to truly cherishes their friends and family
    • The Bitou Brothers, Tatsuya and Hide are this to each other during their attacks on Suzuran. They are also motivated by the death of their older brother, and Tatsuya even sees a vision of him before Bouya finished him off.
    • Amachi Hishashi, one of the most sadistic asshole in the whole francise hell bent on taking over the town, seems to be motivated by his father's dying words to not make any friends. It is after he finally moves on from it that he finally have a new outlook on his life and his friends.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Even in the violent and vicious world of Crows, there are some lines you just don't cross. Lesser sins include ganging up on an opponent, ambushing someone in their personal life, bringing pipes, bats or wooden swords to a fist fight, and beating someone after they're down. Truly unforgivable transgressions include using a real blade in a fight, cold blooded murder, pushing drugs, rape, attacking or harassing women or grade schoolers, and attacking friends and family of an enemy who are not actually involved in the delinquent lifestyle, such as parents or a graduated older sibling. Villains who pull stunts like that are usually real scumbags who won't be redeemed. In one arc it gets deconstructed somewhat when an old friend of Murata Shougo's got jumped by a rival gang. This friend was from a time before Shougo was even in the Armament. Shougo talks to the old friend, Yuutarou, and Yuutarou yells at Shougo. Yuutarou points out how the people that jumped him and other gangs like Shougo's aren't so different, with their tendency to get into fights over stupid things and how foolish he finds the getting revenge idea to be. Yuutarou, to his credit, realizes this isn't completely fair to Shougo and apologizes and Shougo helps Yuutarou out and the two part on good terms with this conversation clearly helping Shougo learn how to handle things.
  • Extremity Extremist: Guriko won't only use his long and powerful legs, but they are his main weapon. His strongest and most used attacks are roundhouses, sobats, and jump kicks. He kicks more often than even the Bitou brothers.
  • Final Boss: While Bouya still had a lot of fights after, his second bout with Rindaman serves as this. More literally, his final battle was with the vicious Kuzugami Tatsuo, dubbed the Strongest Delinquent in Japan. The fight hinges on the themes of real strength being more than physical prowess, and true friendship surpassing the power of brute force or a large team, making it s fitting end for Bouya's saga.
    • Hana's last obstacle before complete domination of Suzuran: Defeating the Demon King Hanaki Guriko.
  • Freudian Excuse : Some characters, usually the bad ones, such as Amachi and the Bitou Brothers have at least one shitty reason WHY they do what they do. However they mostly fell into Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse territory usually because, the actions have gone too far or have nothing to do with the reasons.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: When Hana and Amachi have their big final confrontation in their third year, Hana has heard about Amachi's past and how this has defined who he is as a person. One of Amachi's old rivals, Kousei, now pities Amachi even though Amachi gave him a permanent scar on his face. Hana's parents and dog died in a landslide when he was a small boy, and he had to live with his grandparents. When Hana and Amachi fight, Hana calls Amachi out on his lashing out by mentioning how Hana didn't let his sad past ruin who he was as a person. After this, and Amachi losing the fight, Amachi starts to change his outlook and notice his men are also his companions.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Many characters, heroic or villainous, have scarred faces from past battles. Especially in Worst. Some of the most extreme cases are Kiiko from Crows, who has multiple scars on his face and hands and is missing half an ear, and Tsukimoto Mitsunori and Daizen Tsumoto from Worst, both of whom fell through a glass window while fighting each other and wound up with countless gashes on their faces and arms.
  • Handy Shortcoming: Abo is dwarfed by the majority of the cast, but being so short means most opponents can't see his knockout punch coming until it's already made contact.
  • Japanese Delinquents: The casts of the Hiroshi Takahashi mangas Crows and Worst are almost entirely composed of delinquents, specifically Harumichi Bouya and Tsukishima Hana, the respective protagonists. The opponents they encounter can be divided into two distinct groups: Rivals (delinquents who respect the codes of honor and companionship in high school gang warfare) and Bad Guys (jerks).
  • Kindhearted Simpleton: Hana is naive and book dumb to the point of being childlike, but he is the most sincerely big-hearted character in the series. He makes friends and forgives enemies easily and goes out of his way to help strangers in need. One shining example was attending the funeral for the mother of a classmate who disliked him and crying real tears with the student, winning him over.
  • Made of Iron: One of the most common traits among characters from both series. Bouya probably stands out the most, as he isn't particularly big or muscular compared to the other toughest characters, but can take any number of punches, kicks, suplexes, pipes and even falls without losing the will to fight, let alone consciousness. Usually if the trope is subverted, it's played for comedy. For example, Bouya might try to make a crazy jump and then land it, but spend several seconds shaking in pain.
  • Muscles Are Meaningful: Anyone who's anyone in Crows and Worst has some serious muscle, but the truly titanic, like Tatsuo, Daizen and King Joe, or the ones who train and work out, such as Hana and Tesshou, tend to be among the strongest characters. Even Bulldog and Bouya struggle against foes who are walls of muscle. Two of Bulldog's biggest victories against men who were walls of muscle were because of sheer grit or one lucky counter.
  • One-Hit Kill: Tsukishima Hana's signature uppercut and Hanaki Guriko's kick/flying kick. Being able to stay concious after gerting hit by one of them is considered an achievement.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: The cranky country bumpkin Abo is tiny compared to most people his age, but he's strong enough to knock out members of the Hana-gumi and be recognized by Hana as a serious threat. He's also gutsy enough to challenge Guriko three times, something only the likes of Tesshou and Hana would dare to do.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: The (thankfully only) attempted rape of Tesshou's sister by a Suzuran student is Serious Business, to the point that The Front of Armament makes a formal request of the governing body of Suzuran, who all unite against all odds to bring the scumbag to justice. Even the normally offbeat Zetton is deeply enraged by the transgression.
  • Retired Badass: Most of the characters becomes this after graduating high school or dropping out, moving on to normal jobs and honest lives. A few do move onto the more serious underworld of Yakuza, or become professional fighters. Some stick around in some capacity such as Katsuragi from Crows or Zetton in the latter half of Worst.
    • Bouya can't exactly avoid trouble, and won't back down from a fight, but by the time he enters Suzuran he's given up on looking for fights or seeking power. He just wants a normal school life with friends.
    • Guriko used to raise hell, but now he only wants to court girls and have a good time. It doesn't mean he's lost his edge, however.
    • When Zetton graduates in WORST, he will show up from time to time to talk to Hana or his friends. Somewhat subverted on the badass part, as Zetton is struggling to get into college to become a teacher and seems to have become dented iron. One particularly notable instance being attempting to do a jump off a bridge he did in Crows and breaking his foot rather than landing and being fine like in Crows.
    • Technically the Umehoshi siblings count as well, as they are retired from delinquent life but are still plenty badass to the point they can cause various characters to lose any badass cred around them and bow down.
  • The Rival: Hana has Mitsumasa and Amachi, while Bouya has Rindaman.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Played for laughs. Nearly everyone who has ever run afoul of The Dreaded Guriko is permanently traumatized. Common reactions include stress disorders, nightmares, and hyperbolic memories of him as a literal monster. Some of his foes (or perhaps more appropriately victims) break into a cold sweat or pass out at the mere mention of his name, while others permanently retire from delinquency altogether. In a humorous example, when Guriko was supposed to graduate he beat up almost every named character from his grade. He ended up not graduating and they all begged Hanna to kill Guriko for them, clearly traumatized by Guriko's anger.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Everyone. Hell, You can count the number of characters who don't smoke with your fingers.
  • Strong and Skilled: Zetton is trained in Karate, meaning he can block and counter at a level way beyond the average punk, and punch and kick with real technique. He still hits like a truck and can take a beating like any Suzuran tough.
  • Signature Move: Many characters have one. Tatsuya has a wicked roundhouse kick, Bulldog his running head-ram, Bouya is prone to point blank headbutts, Guriko is feared for his devastating jump kick, Abo has a lightning fast hook, Butcher considers a basic Judo throw to be his special Killer Flaming Car technique, but the most iconic is Hana's uppercut, strong enough to take down the toughest of foes and even put Guriko on his toes.
  • Training from Hell: Hana, of all people, though half by accident and half by choice. He grew up in a mountainous region where every walk to and from school was miles and miles of hiking amidst vipers, and even in the comfort of the city he goes out of his way for lengthy runs and intense plyometrics and calisthenics. Where most characters get by on their natural size and ferocity, Hana is so strong because he works at it, making him tougher than most. Even other characters in his league or stronger lack his sheer physical endurance. Amachi must do this as well but it's not shown, since he constantly improves to the point that he is in the same league as Hana and Guriko in his third year.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: The vast majority of characters have no martial arts background, combing brute force with stubborn resilience to win fights.
  • Weak, but Skilled: Bitou Tatsuya fights with kicks and grapples, having trained in martial arts. At a young age he could already take out officers from The Front of Armament, but Bouya points out his attacks don't hit as hard as some other major players he's faced.
  • Would Hit a Girl: A member of Jet Black Scorpion punches one of Guriko's girlfriends hard enough to cause her eye to swell shut. This, predictably, does not end well for him.

    Crows Zero 
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Izaki and Genji in the final battle against the Serizawa Army.
  • Battle in the Rain: The Climatic war between The GPS and Serizawa Army.
  • Damsel in Distress: Ruka after Yuuji has her kidnapped along with her friends.
  • Designated Villain: Serizawa is the Big Bad but only because Genji has to fight him. Other than that, he never does anything bad. In fact, he could even be mistaken as the main protagonist.
  • Duel to the Death: Genji and Serizawa's final duel isn't accompanied by a lot of impressive moves and instead just them trying to tear each other apart since they both have spent the energy in the Mob War before.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: Genji's father prevents him from saving Ken from being executed by his boss because of disobeying an order (killing Genji). Despite having great strength and armed with a Katana, he would've been no match for Yakuzas.

    Crows Zero 2 
  • Arch-Nemesis: Suzuran and Housen. Housen are trying to avenge their past leader's death at the hands of a suzuran student.
  • Berserk Button: Tokio doesn't take it well when Genji insulted his head injury.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The whole reason the movie's plot happened in the first place.
  • Sibling Team: The Mikami brothers, Manabu and Takeshi.

Alternative Title(s): Crows Zero, Crows Zero 2