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Manga / Karakuridouji Ultimo

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"You shouldn't rely on others to help you determine what's good or what's bad. In no time at all, you'll simply be under someone else's control."

In 12th Century Japan, a man named Roger Dunstan unleashed his curse on the world with his creations. He created two Karakuridoji, 'mechanical boys', one representing pure good and the other representing pure evil. The two were to make contracts with human masters, learn about the world, and grow stronger... until one day, they would battle to the death, all for no other reason than to find out which of the two were stronger. In time, he also created others that represented the gaps of good and evil. Yamato, a bandit who fights an oppressive government, opened the boxes in which these two robots were contained and made a pact with Ultimo, the 'Ultimate Good'. The two fought together for some time, until Yamato's eventual death.

Cut to the present day, where Yamato's reincarnation stumbles into an old antique shop trying to find a birthday present for his crush. And of course, chaos erupts once again like centuries ago with Vice, the evil karakuridoji, already chasing Yamato's tail. The highly confused Yamato begins his struggle to survive and re-connect with his former partner, even as other Douji, both good and evil, begin to set their own plans into motion. And throughout it all, Dunstan continues to watch from the shadows, observing the ensuing chaos for his own enigmatic purposes...

Karakuridoji Ultimo ("Mechanical Boy Ultimo") is a manga created by Hiroyuki Takei (creator of Shaman King) and Stan Lee of Marvel Comics fame. The manga ran in Jump Square from 2009 to 2015, and was compiled into 12 volumes.

Takei's other series Jumbor Barutronica is arguably its Spiritual Successor.

Has a wiki. The forum thread is here.

Not related to Karakuri Circus, although the main character do look and act very similar. It's not related to Karakuri Odette either.

Provides examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The story takes place in 2012, though nothing has changed. However, according to the memories Ultimo gives Yamato, there will later be some time traveling into the 30th Century.
  • After the End: What the future would have been if the events in chapter 12 were come to pass.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Akitsu loves Rune, who loves Yamato, who loves Sayama, who loves the Evil Pro Golfer. Much of this is the result of Incompatible Orientation.
  • Already Met Everyone: Only Yamato and Murayama returned to the day before the Hundred Machine Funeral with memories of everyone.
  • Alternate Timeline: Not just different from the real world, there are three different timelines shown in the manga.
  • Art Evolution: Every character starting around chapter 25, possibly because the inker was changed from "DAIGO" to "HIRO". Examples would be that the characters look skinnier and have more exaggerated face expressions (Especially K's).
  • Artistic Age: Yoichi is supposed to be in his 40's. He looks much older and Service even calls him "old man."
  • Ascended Extra: In chapter 21, Regula gives Sayama, Akitsu, Kiyose,and Oume their memories of their past and possibly future lives. Looks like Yamato might possibly need them later chapters...
  • Author Avatar: Particularly blatant as Dunstan looks almost exactly like Stan Lee, which is strange, considering he also seems to be the Big Bad. Hell, he even said "Excelsior!" once.
  • Balance Between Good and Evil: Pretty important in this series, since you know, the world blows up without it.
  • Berserk Button: Almost everyone seems to have a berserk button.
    • Don't touch Yamato. Unless you want to deal with Ultimo.
    • Even mention destroying anywhere remotely close to where Sayama is, and Yamato will lose it.
    • If anything should happen to Rune, Akitsu will kick your ass.
    • Rune didn't seem to like Yamato rejecting him.
    • Don't make Jealousy.... well, jealous.
    • Ultimo Ulate shows us that calling Akitsu "brawny" and Oume "puny" aren't good ideas.
    • Murayama's is bringing up his mysterious "older sister".
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Because even "nice" incarnate is pretty off his rocker.
  • Big Fancy House: All of Yamato's featured classmates live in one.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Out of 12th century Yamato's group, the first person Vice kills is the black samuri.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: In the beginning of Chapter 8, Ultimo says to Yamato, "Your wish is my command!". At the end of the chapter, Jealousy says the exact same phrase to Rune.
  • Bowdlerise: Although the English Translation is rated 13+ , it is still VERY censored. Even "crap" was changed to "oh no". The original versions shown in Shonen Jump Magazine often censored out some of the violence as well. (The cut Yamato got from Jealous was made to look a lot less serious for example.) The volumes thankfully leave the scenes intact.
    • This may be Stan Lee's involvement speaking; he's not really much for cursing in his own work.
  • Censor Steam: The English translation uses this for Yamato's shower scene.
  • Chaste Hero: Ultimo is implied to be this. He never picked up on the awkward atmosphere after the chapter 3 incident, nor does he seem to realize what kind of implications he is causing with how friendly he is with Yamato. Makes a lot of sense though, since he is the embodiment of pure good.
  • Clothing Damage: Everybody in their mecha forms.
    • Yamato lampshades this in chapter 16.
      "I have to find out if I can do anything about my clothes shredding when I combine with Ultimo."
  • Curbstomp Battle:
    • Chapter 12, The Six Perfections vs. the Seven Deadly Sins. It doesn't go well for the good guys. At all.
    • Presumably what happened when Vice picks a fight with Dunstan and Mileu. By the time Yamato arrives on the scene, Vice is almost completely broken in Mileu's grasp.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Subverted by K, who only agrees to become Vice's master so he can quit his job. Played straight by the other evil douji masters, who all keep their day jobs even after becoming villains.
    • It's implied that Dunstan has been cut several checks in the past, and that he was actually a very well-respected genius before he went batshit insane and started destabilizing all of space-time with super robots.
  • Cute Machines:
    • Some of the good doji. Ultimo, Sopia, and Service especially.
    • Some of the Evil doji are cute, such as Desir.
  • Digital Bikini: The English version has this for everyone's mecha forms.
    • Except K's speedo actually made it worse.
    • Lately, however, (probably due to protests of fans) the English translation has stopped doing this, starting with Murayama in chapter 18.
    • But two chapters later, Machi has a digital bra. Understandable that very thin Godiva Hair was the only thing covering her breasts in the Japanese versions. But still, considering that Naruto is in the same magazine...
  • Double Standard: Rape, Male on Male: Averted in chapter 12 with Service and Avaro. Averted again in Chapter 21 with Rune and Yamato.
  • Dynamic Entry: Villanous Example in Chapter 11 courtesy of Vice. Averted by K. It's still awesome though.
    • Chapter 12 gives us the other five Deadly Sins one-by-one in a series of these.
  • Earth-Shattering Kaboom: What will happen if the Hundred Machine Funeral comes to pass, though it's not specified how.
  • Embodiment of Vice: The strongest under Vice are the Seven Deadly Sins. They oppose those based on the Six Perfections.
  • Embodiment of Virtue: The strongest under Ultimo are the Six Perfections. They oppose those based on the Seven Deadly Sins.
  • Flash Forward: Contains a lot of these, mostly shown through Yamato’s nightmares.
  • Forced to Watch: Vice was going to make 12th century Yamato watch his comrades be killed.
  • Good Eyes, Evil Eyes: The Good doji, such as Sophia, have wide, child-like eyes in contrast to some of the evil doji's narrowed eyes.
    • Jealousy has black marks under his eyes, giving him a shadowy look.
    • Seems to be the oppisite for the masters though. Most if not all of The Good Doji Club members have narrow eyes, while quite a few of the evil ones(Rune, Mizho, Akira, Hana), have large eyes.
  • Good Hair, Evil Hair: Most Good Doji have finer and fluffier looking hair, compared to the more rugged and spiked hairstyles of the Evil Doji.
  • Good is Not Nice: The "good" Karakuridouji are just as cold and menacing as the evil ones.
  • Good Needs Evil: If good doesn't have evil, then the world blows up.
  • Good Powers, Bad People: Some of the evil doji's powers, you'd think, can be used more for good than for evil.
  • Hartman Hips: Getting to be a theme in the girls' designs.
  • High-Pressure Blood: On a couple of occasions.
    • After Jealous slices Yamato's arm, it causes an eruption of blood massive enough to cover all the walls.
    • When Sophia's head is crushed. (Technically oil not blood, but it looked the same.)
    • Implied in Rune's past life's death, considering how much blood was splattered on the floor, walls, and Ultimo.
    • The recent chapter with Vice beating up Jun. Good lord how does that kid hold all that blood?
  • Morality Kitchen Sink: Naturally, as the series is about the different kinds of good and evil.
  • Multiple Demographic Appeal: The little boys like it for the action, the older boys for the action and the storyline, and the girls like it for many more reasons than that.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Eco's legendary sushi, which he uses as a metaphor.
  • Neighborhood-Friendly Gangsters / Yakuza: In chapter 24 we found out that the reincarnations of Yamato's bandit gang, are part of a mafia. Yamato becomes their new leader.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Subverted, as everything was already screwed up, but after Yamato hits the Reset Button, he attempts to prevent everything from happening again. But, Iruma still dies, and Murayama is hurt as well. Ultimo is also suffering injuries, right before he's needed for The Hundred Machine Funeral. Since Yamato waited to find Ultimo, Vice never got hurt in a battle, and went and attacked the Good Doji Club, killing Eco and Koun. Hiroshi also seems to be (possibly temporarily) disabled from his fight with Vice. Plus, Jealous partners up with Rune again, and Rune's gone from murder, to rape attempts to get Yamato. Sayama also seems to be in an argument with Yamato, and crushing on Akira. It's arguable if it's almost as bad, as bad, or worse.
  • No Biological Sex: Given that Karakuri Douji are actually advance robots from the future/past/it's complicated.
  • Non Human Side Kick: Subverted, as many believe Ultimo, not Yamato, is the main character.
    • Averted with Vice and K. If anything, K is Vice's pet.
    • Played straight with the rest of the doji and their masters.
  • No Sympathy: Pardonne and Regula seem to have this problem, deconstructing the idea of Good is Not Nice.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain:
    • He might be built like a stick and look like a geek, and he's unemployed, but K wasn't chosen by Vice for nothing. K's shortcomings make him the ideal master for the douji of ultimate evil, because he's emblematic of everything that is wrong with humanity. Since he is so easy to push over, Vice can literally do whatever he wants. That includes slicing his own teammates in half.
    • All of the Evil Douji Masters. You'd never know just by looking at them. For example, Desir the Lustful's Master, she's an Elementary School teacher.
  • Oblivious to Love: Yamato on Rune's crush on him, up to Chapter 10.
  • Orcus on His Throne: Vice spends the first twenty or so chapters sitting around in K's apartment scheming. Of course once he does get up to do something, we see that he fully deserves to sit around...
  • Ordinary High-School Student: Yamato used to be this... until he found out that he was the master of the most powerful doji of Good for 900 years and that he now has to fight with him against Evil in the Hundred Machine Funeral.
  • One-Letter Name: K.
  • The Psycho Rangers: The masters of the Seven Deadly Sins.
  • Power Perversion Potential: Jealous' webbing abilities. Just see for yourself.
  • Pretty Boy: Murayama is so bishonen that school girls literally run and push desks over to see him.
  • Pulling Themselves Together: The doji can do this pretty quickly, as long as they have a master.
  • Refusal of the Call: Yamato doesn't want anything to do with Ultimo and the doji's battle until Vice shows up to get rid of him.
  • Reincarnation: This manga is full of it. Apparently, it seems that all the masters of the doji in present time are a reincarnation of a past self. They also seem to be coming from the same time period and roughly around the same and then.
    • Justified in that Dunstan's Karakuridouji, Milieu, has the power to manipulate reincarnation.
  • Religious and Mythological Theme Naming:
  • Reset Button: Yamato manages to hit it just as the villains are gaining the upper hand and winds up back in the day he suppose to find Ultimo. Only now he has knowledge of what going to happen.
  • Revisiting the Roots / Continuity Nod: Sayama should learn to knock.
  • Ridiculously Human Robot: Why does Vice have to eat and drink? Why does Ultimo sleep?
  • Robo Family: Some of the doji have refered to Dunstan as their father. Jealous has also called Ultimo his brother.
    • Which causes some amount of Squick when you remember Chapter 12. Avaro molesting/raping Service would be considered Villainous Incest.
  • Robotic Psychopath: Vice. And then there's Ultimo.
  • Running Gag: Anytime Ultimo rushes to see Yamato, he breaks glass. Pieces of the glass always fly into Yamato. Usually his face.
    • Oume puching Yamato in the crotch. She's been doing it since the day they met.
  • Save the Villain: In Chapter 14, Yamato saves Iruma from a repeat of what happened in Chapter 8.
  • Scenery Censor: When the masters are in Icon mode. Averted in the English translation, where they fully cover the area below the waistline with underwear.
    • Makes you wonder how the English translation will censor the ladies' areas when they go into Icon mode.
  • Selective Obliviousness: Yamato, about Rune's crush on him.
  • Sensible Heroes, Skimpy Villains: Averted with Machi and Miyoshi. Machi wears a tight, gothic dress which shows off a lot of cleavage, where Miyoshi (who's even the lust doji master) is quite modest.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Ultimo and Yamato play this straight with their apperances, and their personalities in general. But, they also subvert it with the fact that Ultimo is a fighting robot, and obviously a lot stronger.
    • Rune and Yamato could count as well.
  • Seven Deadly Sins: There is a set of mechanical boys based on the Sins. They are the strongest under Vice.
  • Shapeshifter Weapon: The Karakkuridouji are capable of transforming their gauntlets into various oversize weapons. They can even transform their entire bodies.
  • Supervillain Lair: Subverted by K and Vice: K bought a crappy apartment for them.
  • Take a Third Option: Musashi tells Yamato he has to choose between showing him where Ultimo is or being killed by him right there, and explicitly says "There's a third option, but I don't think it's realistic." Eco says the third option is befriending or fighting all the Douji masters before the Hundred Machine Funeral.
  • Tender Tears: Ultimo has these a lot.
  • Telescoping Robot: Vice has this ability in the Prologue. It is not yet known if other doji can do it too.
  • There Is Another: Turns out that Ultimo and Vice weren't the only Mechanical Boys Dunstan made. By the dozens.
  • Time Paradox: Paraphrased quote from Yamato, "So let me see...I met you in the past but you were created in the future..."
  • Time Travel: As mentioned above, the doji were created by Dustan, and he then transported them to different times in history. The only reason Murayama escaped from the destruction of his future was by following him into the past.
    • Yamato also does quite a bit of this, as Ultimo's Noh Power is time traveling.
  • Tin Man: Subverted with the doji, as they have no human emotions but embody the characteristics of their particular virtue/sin.
  • Token Mini-Moe: Oume for Yamato's group of friends. Hana or Mizho for the Evil Doji Branch, although you may have a different opnion on that...
  • Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe: Even several characters have commented that even though Dunstan created 100 karakuridoji, he seems to have sent them around the area now known as Tokyo.
  • Too Dumb to Fool: Yamato immediately thinks there something fishy about Iruma's offer, though knowing him from his past life does help.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Iruma. Not a good idea thinking about how Ultimo is way more powerful than your own doji, when he himself knows how to read minds.
    • What's sad is that he makes the same mistake twice.
  • Transformation Sequence: The doji masters have this when they go into Icon mode.
  • Trickster Mentor: Eco was a Buddhist monk in a past life. These days he teaches lessons using things like sushi or manga.
  • True Companions: Past Yamato's bandit gang has members who are willing to lay down their lives for each other. This inspires Ultimo to come to their defense, as while he objects to their being bandits, regardless of their motives he considers their companionship essentially good.
    • To a lesser extent, the Club of Good Doji. They often bicker among themselves, and their doji are very rude and aloof, but they are all working together to capture Dunstan.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Subverted by Iruma Tomomitsu who, while he is running for City Council, isn't very known, as he points out.
  • Visual Innuendo: Vice's mecha form has a large spike that curves upward, between his legs.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Oh, Akitsu and Yamato. They clearly hate each other, and Akitsu goes out of her way to make Yamato's life miserable, but they have been friends for seven years. Surely something is keeping them together. They have shown at least one sign of concern for each other as well. (Akitsu panicing when Yamato jumped out of the school window, and Yamato did think about her alongside his other friends when he was worried about not seeing everyone again.)
  • We Will Meet Again: Subverted by K: Look Forward to the day we meet again! Though I really don't want to see you again!
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Murayama comes from the future, and his goal is to stop the Hundred Machine Funeral from happening. He fails the first time, and considering how Dunstan is always meddling with events, he probably can't stop it from happening.
    • Rune becoming Jealousy's master.
    • Eco getting stabbed in the stomach by one of the evil doji.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Jealous pretty much says this to Iruma. Twice.

Alternative Title(s): Ultimo