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Manga / Kengan Ashura

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Ohma Tokita, the "Ashura" and a small fish in a big pond.

"You wanna fight, too?"
- Ohma Tokita

Kengan Ashura is a manga series written by Yabako Sandrovich and drawn by Daromeon,note  beginning publication in 2012 it runs in Ura Sunday, a Shounen Magazine, published by Shogakukan.

When Kazuo Yamashita, a 56-year-old underachieving salesman, stumbles across the mysterious young Ohma Tokita easily taking down a musclebound yakuza twice his size, his world gets set to be turned on its head.

The following day, Kazuo is summoned by the Nogi Group's CEO, Hideki Nogi, who introduces him to the world of the Kengan Association matches: a place where wealthy business owners, corporation leaders and merchants hire gladiators to fight in unarmed combat where the winner takes all. With Kazuo being reacquainted with Ohma, the latter of whom has become the Nogi Group's latest fighter, the two's journey into the Kengan world begins. Several bouts into Ohma's careers, the eccentric leader of the Kengan Association Katahara Metsudo announces his desire to see things shaken up in the organization- by hosting a tournament of the best fighters in the business, with the winner being given anything they want and the CEO they represent being given chairman position in the organization. Kazuo and Ohma are entered on behalf of Nogi, and so begins a long-running Tournament Arc that sees Ohma's shady past slowly be brought to light.


In May 2015 the series won a poll organized by Ura Sunday in which the winner would become eligible for getting an Animated Adaptation, Kengan Ashura got more than 2 million fan votes, winning. The anime adaptation by Studio Hibari and Larx Entertainment premiered on July 31, 2019 on Netflix.

The sequel, Kengan Omega, set 2 years after the original series, began publishing on January 31, 2019. Set two years after the events of the previous series, Omega stars two newcomers: the brutal street fighter with natural talent Narushima Koga, and the mysterious and aloof Gaoh Ryuki. Both find themselves drawn to the world of the Kengan Matches after a chance encounter with Kazuo, who decides to mentor both fighters after seeing hints as to their potential. Unfortunately for him (and the rest of the association), rival underground fighting ring Purgatory is looking to acquire the Kengan Association for their own purposes, and challenge the Kengan fighters to thirteen rounds in a one-on-one tournament in Purgatory's home turf. As Koga and Gaoh gear up for the fight, it becomes increasingly clear that a mysterious third party known only as "The Worm" has a vested interest in interfering with the battle between the two groups- and their sights have been set on Koga and Gaoh...


Compare to Baki the Grappler. Kengan Ashura shares some similarities to the early beginnings of Baki and both protagonists are similar in design and personality.

See also How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift?, a more light-hearted manga series set in the same universe and written by the same author, though under a different illustrator.

Official English Translation: Comikey

The series provides the examples of:

  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game: The Kengan Association members wager enormous sums of money on the outcome of matches as side bets. Most notable is the bet Kazuo accidentally makes with Penasonic CEO Urita Sukizo for 10 percent of his company's stock, which comes to a total value of 288 billion yen.
  • Adaptation-Induced Plot Hole: A minor case related to some of the refs from the manga being Adapted Out. In the manga, referee decisions to call a match aren't always consistent (for example, sometimes the match is stopped the moment one fighter goes unconscious, while other matches continue on); however, this is explained away by different refs canonically having distinct styles of refereeing. This is not the case in the anime, which uses only one ref—Yamamoto—making him just seem extremely inconsistent with his calls.
  • Age Insecurity:
    • Nogi's (and later Kazuo's) Sexy Secretary Kaede has her age listed as "?", although an offhand remark by Nogi implies that she's Older Than She Looks, and she gets annoyed whenever her age is brought up. By the same token, her older sister Sakura has her age unknown.
    • Shion's profile states that she'll kill anyone who asks her age, although it is eventually revealed to be 35.
  • All Just a Dream: How the bonus Street Fighter crossover chapters ended. Ohma fell asleep playing the video game and it apparently messed with his dreams... or did it?
  • Ambiguously Related: Rei Mikazuchi and his predecessor Byo are presumably relatives, due to their shared surname and hairstyle; however, Byo is described as Rei's master rather than family—unlike Jozaemon Inaba, Ryo's predecessor who is explicitly described as his grandfather.
  • Army of Thieves and Whores: In Omega, the Worm grows to become a global threat, and the Prime Minister of Japan brought together various factions around the world consisting of gangsters, crime syndicates and religious cults to form an Anti-Worm Alliance.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Virtually all the Kengan Fighters (with the possible exception of Wakatsuki) are very confident of their strength and martial skills, and always walk into a match assured of their own victory, whether or not it is warranted.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • Using techniques from the Koei Style, Kiryu Setsuna's unfortunate victims are left with limbs and necks twisted to unnatural degrees not possible in real life.note 
    • Haruo's almost remarkably rapid caloric expenditure was lampshaded by Bando Yohei as being medically impossible.
    • When using his "Advance" technique, Ohma is somehow able to overclock his heart, achieving a form of blood doping that gives him an immense boost in physical capabilities. Kiryu is able to create an overload of tachypsychia in his brain, risking nerve damage and brain hemorrhaging to achieve Super Reflexes, and Fei Wangfang shows that these abilities are meant to be used together, achieving a suicidal Humanoid Abomination form that combines insane blood-doping and tachypsychia to push the human body to an unheard-of limit.
  • Audience Surrogate: Kazuo is an underachieving salesman who is immersed as a fighter manager into a secret society where powerful businessmen organize fighting matches to settle their market disputes. Kazuo is constantly thinking about the ludicrousness of all but still admiring such a different world from his usual pathetic life, and the ridiculously strong fighters who are the very opposite of his weak self. Adding to this, the one truly exceptional thing about Kazuo is his fantastic eyesight, which allows him to follow along with the matches just as the reader does.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Tokita Ohma and Rihito during the beginning of the Kengan Annihilation Tournament preliminaries.
  • Badass Boast
    Sekibayashi Jun: "Pro wrestlers are good actors!"
  • Beach Episode: Most of Kengan Ashura chapter 40 is dedicated to this, with most of the fighters relaxing by the waters before the Annihilation Tournament begins.
  • Big Fancy House: Since both series are about proxy wars between the fabulously wealthy, there's lots of these. Especially notable is the enormous island mansion where Toyoda Idemitsu meets with Nogi in Omega, which is revealed to just be a villa for one of his mistresses.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Part 1 ends with the tournament infiltrators stopped by Metsudo, who completely outsmarts them and manages to allow the tournament to continue unimpeded. Gensai wins the tournament for his company in a massive upset, taking down Ohma in the finals at the cost of shattering his arm. However, Gensai's handler (and the winner of the tournament) Takakaze decides to step down from his position, seeing it as both too much of a responsibility and too cruel to take Nogi's hard-fought dream away from him. Just about all the competitors come out of it better in some way- either with renewed motivation to become even stronger, or with bonds to help them become better people. Unfortunately, a combination of abuse of the “Advance” technique and his injuries ultimately result in Ohma passing away after the tournament concludes. Everyone mourns his passing as a talented fighter who was taken in his prime, especially his father figure Kazuo. Yet, with the lessons he's gained in seeing Ohma live his short life to the fullest, Kazuo refuses to let anyone boss him around, and he decides to start up his own company. However, there are still a lot of plotlines left unconcluded, and the story hints that, somehow, Ohma may have been revived.
  • Bland-Name Product: Many of the corporations involved in the Kengan Association have names only slightly altered from those of real world corporations. These include "Ginokuniya Bookstores", "Boss Burger", "Penasonic", "Sentory", and "Nentendo".
  • Body Horror: Most of the injuries in this series are absolutely horrific, in no part thanks to the artist's skill in depicting such injuries. Shout out goes to Muteba Gizenga's lethal brutalisation of Meguro Masaki.
  • Bowdlerise: In the manga and a bit in the anime, Rihito lays it rather heavy with the homophobic trash-talk in order to get under Sawada's skin. In the English dub, he's content with simply refering to Sawada as a freak.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Early on in the series, Ohma breaks into Yamashita's workplace during the evening and is shown to have physically subdued the guards in order to do so. Fast forward several chapters and a caricatured wanted poster of him can be seen on a wall in Yamashita's workplace.
      "If you see this man, please contact security. This man broke into the building at —.00 on —— —th and assaulted four security guards."
    • In Muteba Gizenga's Kengan Ashura commentary, it mentions that he is looking forward to going on vacation. Come Kengan Omega, his introduction is him relaxing with a bunch of beautiful women on vacation.
  • Call-Back: As Ohma walks into his final match against Gensai in Ashura, he turns to Kazuo and asks him, once again...
    You wanna fight, too?
  • Captain Ersatz:
    • Adam Dudley's employer is pretty much a slightly uglier Ronald McDonald.
    • One of the companies in the Annihilation Tournament is Tochigi Destinyland, featuring its beloved mascots, Mockey and Honald.
  • Cast from Lifespan: Ohma's 'Advance' technique that he uses to defeat Sekibayashi and other fighters takes a serious toll on his health every time he uses it. This is symbolized by him mentally blowing out a series of candles, potentially taking years off his lifespan.note 
  • Cast of Snowflakes: After years of publication the series has been consistently about one big fighting tournament, and as such its dozens of fighters have very varied designs and each fight is given panel time, even those where the protagonist isn't taking part. While some fights are shorter, all fighters are given some character and a background. This even extends to one-off Mooks, who all look different from each other.
  • Central Theme: Omega has a lot of emphasis placed on deception, identity and inheritance. It's revealed that the Kengan Association has been infiltrated by the Worm early into the series, which puts all the returning characters on edge. Gaoh's fighting style is an assassination art based on redirection and confusion. A large amount of the Purgatory fighters are planted by the Worm in an attempt to subvert the grudge match between the two organizations- this includes people with established friendships, such as Lu and Fei. Characters like Nicolas Le Banner and Yumigahama Hikaru have backstories where they deceive someone though to be important to them in pursuit of selfish ends, and "Nicolas" as we know him is actually an impersonator named Jean-Luc. All of these examples and more give the series a somewhat paranoid edge where the main characters don't know who they can trust and cling to former chairman Katahara's power and influence even after he steps down, which gives an oppurtunity for the really unsavory elements of the criminal underworld to make their move now that the Kengan Association is not monolithic in it's power structure for the first time in five decades.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: The series' best fighters are capable of feats such as punching through concrete, being able to defend against bullets by reading the shooter's movements or killing them before they can shoot and withstanding grueful blows that would have killed a normal person instantly by dispersing the force through their bodies by going limp at the time of impact or flexing their entire body in response to an incoming attack.. However, aside from a few genetic anomalies such as Gozo (thoroughbred of two athletes who could stand up at ten days old and dominating track and field for 3 decades), Wakatsuki (born with 52x denser muscle fibers than the norm), Julius (responds incredibly well to lethal doses of steroids to become a medical miracle) and several old families like the Kure Clan who selectively breed with fighters and athletes and train their children from birth to be fighters or hitmen, they are all normal humans from incredibly different backgrounds whose extreme lifestyles and sheer dedication to training themselves and becoming the strongest allows them to accomplish these incredible feats. Even with the anomalies, their modified DNA isn't actually enough to realistically explain the feats they can accomplish (e.g. Julius is able to pull a racing car that's moving in the opposite direction at full speed without the chains he's wrapped in even managing to dig through his skin), but the series also exploits this well for a larger-than-life effect.
    Elena Robinson: ...Oh. I've seen this before... It's just like those movies I used to watch with Mokichi. These two are like a kaiju movie...
  • Chekhov's Gun: Subverted when after the first round of the Annihilation Tournament, Metsudo announces that every corporation has the right to substitute its fighter once. This only ever happens once for the rest of the series, and it's Sekibayashi being subbed out for Marvelous Seki.
  • The Clan: The Kure Clan, a large family of assassins-for-hire who selectively breed to naturally enhance their DNA towards adrenal output and muscular strength, and can be distinguished by their black sclera. Omega introduces the Wu clan and the Occident Wu, which are the head clan that the Kure splintered off into Japan from in the 700's, and the Occident Wu splintering at the same time but heading into Europe respectively. The Kure and Wu are amicable with one another, while the Occident has become very hostile under the leadership of Edward Wu.
  • Combat Pragmatist: The vast majority of fighters in the series could give a rat's ass about honour and will do whatever it takes to win, dirty, underhanded or otherwise. Even in the comparatively Lighter and Softer Purgatory, don't be surprised to see an Eye Scream, a knee to the balls or literally flaying a man alive, starting from the jaw. Early on in the series, Tokita Ohma proves just this when he delivers a Groin Attack to Ivan Karaev, noting that the man's high kicks left his defences wide open.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: The series' specialty: Some of the matchups are between people of wildly different backgrounds who would never get the option to throw hands without the existence of underground martial arts circuits; One of the least unbelievable ones is a Featherweight Kung Fu master taking on a Sambist one-and-a-half times his own size and convincingly beating said Sambist's ass.; In particular, one battle between a sumo and professional wrestler causes the entire audience to go absolutely bananas at getting to watch such a serendipitous (there's a major element of chance at how the Annihilation Tournament bracket was determined) match-up.
  • Crossover:
  • Dark Horse Victory: Gensai, the fighter who wasn't expected to make as big of an upset in the tournament as he did, ends up winning the whole thing. But the win itself was glossed over narrative-wise; it barely meant a thing, if at all.
  • Defeating the Cheating Opponent: The only foul in Kengan matches is the use of weapons. However, anything that make through the check can be used with impunity, since doing otherwise would be damage the Kengan Association's authority. Koji Kaburagi is abusing this loophole to eliminate promising fighters before they can become too much of a threat for others. Everyone knows he is using weapons, but he always manages to sneak them past the referee. During his fight against Ohma, Koji has his employer use The Mosquito to distract Ohma, use poison to take out his sight, and attempt to cripple him by stabbing him in the spine with a needle. Once Ohma manages to figure the employer's position and removes him from the equation, Ohma quickly overwhelms Koji fairly with his superior strength and skills.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: There are other, less major underground fighting tournaments, aside from the Kengan matches, such as "Death Fight," "Purgatory" and "Slaughter Coliseum." Then there's one called "Deadly Death Dead Die."
  • Determinator: Pretty much every self-identified fighter will not stop fighting no matter how injured they get or how many bones they break in the process of proving themselves the strongest. They only go down when they either die or pass out. This is frequently deconstructed however; Being willing to fight to the death for your art and your head held high is valiant, but a majority of the people who are willing to go that far over a fistfight are never particularly good people, if not outright deranged.
  • Disqualification-Induced Victory: A major plot point in Omega during the Kengan Association's Showdown against the Purgatory. The matches are fought under the Purgatory rules, where fighters are disqualified if: 1) They kill their opponents, or 2) They fall out of the ring. Since the Kengan matches had no such rules, this puts their fighters in a disadvantage, and they've lost a number of matches despite overpowering their opponent.
  • Do You Want to Copulate?: After assaulting him out of nowhere, Karura bluntly asks Ohma to have sex with her (in the middle of the room while other people were present) before adding that she wanted his babies. She does so every time she manages to catch him.
  • Dub Text: The english fan translation effort for the manga takes several liberties regarding certain fighter titles, also the way some characters speak, resulting in flashier names and characters speaking in accents, slangs and profanity more in common with native english media. With this acknowledged, Kengan does dive into some very arcane terms and Kanji even for native speakers, crisscrosses Kanji use between Japanese and Chinese on top of the the usual Hiragana and Romaji affair within Japanese, and references a bunch of incredibly obscure (for a foreign audience) historical and martial arts references, so some things going Lost in Translation was inevitable in translating it at all.
  • Episode Zero: The Beginning: Kengan Ashura Zero serves as this.
  • Every Scar Has a Story: Before the finals, Ohma goes over the scars and damage he incurred over the course of the series, all the way back to the gouge wounds Rihito gave him in his first major fight.
  • Eye Scream: The fight between Muteba Gizenga and Meguro Masaki is full of it. The most brutal is culminated by the method with which Muteba finishes the fight.
  • Faint in Shock: Played for laughs in Omega, where the usually composed Kaede goes limp and falls unconscious when she is unexpectedly approached by the supposedly dead Ohma.
  • Family Theme Naming: Several family members have similar-sounding names:
    • Yamashita's first name is Kazuo, and his second son is named Yasuo.
    • Katahara Metsudo's son is named Retsudo.
    • Karura has a younger brother named Sarla.
  • Fanservice: There is plenty of fanservice for both guys and girls. Though with the series focusing mainly on heavily muscled men fighting, the fanservice is particularly good for the girls.
  • Food Porn: Most of the fighters are huge Big Eaters due to their livestyle and needing to maintain muscle-mass and a considerable amount of attention is brought to the food they eat, which is usually plates stacked to the point of overflowing with protein. One of the most recurring character profile elements is the character's favorite food, which is usually some dish or combination of dishes with hidden meanings to them(Liu Dongcheng for example, coming from A House Divided between Taiwan and Guangzhou, who's favorite dishes are Oyster Omelets and Dongpo Pork, which are hometown classics of Taiwan and Guangzhou respectively).
  • Foreshadowing: Muteba being completely blind is foreshadowed twice: first, there are his Exotic Eye Designs that are completely white, which is usually a sign of blindness in animated media. The second is the fact that when Meguro steps into the ring, Muteba identifies his heartbeat as the sign that Meguro is insane, and not the fact that Meguro is crying Tears of Blood. In hindsight, it makes sense that Muteba would identify the heartbeat, as he can't even see said Tears of Blood and he has superhuman hearing.
  • Friendly Rivalry: Most of the Kengan fighters are quite amicable towards each other ouside their matches, and generally don't get caught up in the bitter political wars their employers are engaged in. This doesn't mean that they'd go easy on each other when they do get to fight, nor would they swallow a loss without hoping to get even with their opponent some day.
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: The Ho Yay subtext between the cast members are far more explicit in Yamashita's gender flipped dreamland. For example, female!Setsuna wants to marry Mao, instead of being killed by "her", as the original does.
  • Gladiator Games:
    • Kengan Matches, events in which businessmen decide to settle their differences and market share not through court but through appointing fighters to win it all. These fights are very brutal and can end up with one fighter dead or seriously crippled and, although there is a referee present, his presence is just for show- if a fighter is smart enough to cheat in a way that the referee and the audience can't blatantly notice, then all is fair.
    • There are several underground fighting rings mentioned in the series, and in Omega we are introduced to Purgatory, which is slightly safer for the fighters and run for pure entertainment value.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In spite of their strength, the Kengan fighters tend to lack self-awareness.
    • Himuro derides Nikaido Ren for being a "playboy-type" despite being one of the biggest playboys in the series and mocks the match between Nikaido vs. Setsuna for being a Pretty Boy battle. His friends, Kaneda and Okubo, can only stare at him, speechless at his self-condemning remarks.
    • In the Omake, Julius and Nikaido tell each other to clothe up for winter, while both are still wearing next-to-nothing.
    • The Omake also has Kokomi criticize Dr. Hanafusa for having no other clothes besides his lab coat. Hanafusa points out that she herself only ever wears her nurse uniform.
    • During the Purgatory match, Okubo loudly wonders if Arashiyama is a cosplayer for wearing clogs to the match. Cue Misasa staring at his clown outfit.
  • Kill and Replace: The "Worm" has repeatedly attempted to infiltrate the Kengan Association by killing its member employees/fighters and assuming their identities.
  • Knight Templar: Akoya Seishu with his excessive brand of "justice".
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Alongside Bland-Name Product above, there are characters resembling Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald appearing in the Kengan Annihilation tournament.
  • Legitimate Businessmen's Social Club: Yamashita Trading Company is founded by Nogi as a shell company so his clique could enter more fighters in the Annihilation Tournament. In Omega, it secretly serves as a branch of the Kengan Association that registers and hires out fighters. Koga's friend is immediately able to identify it as fishy because it's the only business on the list of Kengan participants that produces nothing. Kazuo immediately admits the business is a front when Koga confronts him.
  • Leitmotif: With the exception of (so far) Wakatsuki and Murobuchi, whose fight was largely cut, each of the fighters have their own theme songs that play during their introductions at the start their matches.
  • Legacy Character: The title of Fang of Metsudo, which belongs to the strongest fighter in Katahara Metsudo's employ. Kure Erioh is the first and had that name even before Metsudo became chairman in the 50's, and Annihilation Tournament fighter Kanoh Agito is the fifth. Considering Metsudo's been Kengan Association chairman for fifty years, this speaks a lot to the Fangs' dominance and durability, with the Fourth Fang and personal bodyguard of old Metsudo, Masamichi Omori, defending his chairmanship in the last Annihilation Tournament fifteen years prior to the story beginning.
  • Lethal Joke Character: Most fighting manga treat combat styles done for sport or entertainment, like boxing or pro wrestling, as weak compared to more "practical" styles seen in modern MMA. In Ashura, the boxer and pro wrestler are both terrifying and two of the strongest entrants in the Annihilation Tournament.
  • Made of Iron:
    • Anyone with huge muscles. Particular shout out goes to Julius Reinhold, along with Gensai who has fingers hard enough to pierce stone.
    • Both Niko and Ohma when using the Adamantine Kata of the Niko Style, along with Agito when he reveals he has a similar ability.
  • Meaningful Background Event: At the end of Ashura, in Chapter 235, Okubo and Kaolan are having a chat after the tournament. In one panel, in the background of their conversation, we see Yoshizawa asking Hanafusa if he has a moment. Nothing else of their conversation is shown. This isn't elaborated on until over fifty chapters into Omega, where it is finally revealed that Yoshizawa was informing Hanafusa that somebody dropped off a box, a box containing a replacement heart for Ohma, and the reason for his survival.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Ohma Tokita can be translated as “Witching Hour”, Kazuo remarks that even Ohma's name is strong and links to the fact that before the Kengan Matches, Ohma wandered late at nights looking for a challenge.
    • More accurately, "Witching Hour" in Japanese is "ouma ga toki", but it sounded similar enough to Kazuo. It is later revealed that Ohma Tokita was named after Tokita Ward and Shichiohba, two fictional lawless zones of Tokyo. Ohma grew up on the border of these zones.
    • 滅堂, or Metsudo, contains the characters for "Overthrow/Destruction" and "Gathering/Hall". Depending how you read it, it can be translated as "Destroyer of the Order/Way", symbolizing his upstart beginnings and monolothic stranglehold over the Association, and the crumbling of that stability now that he's no longer Chairman and the previously established order of the Japanese underground is overturned.
    • "No gi" is a kind of grappling competition, namely one in which the fighters are lightly dressed (often down to shorts or tights) rather than clad in a normative gi (the suit used in Judo and Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu).
  • Mistaken for Badass: Kazuo gets this. Due to not understanding business jargon, he acts completely unconcerned when the director of Ohma's first opponent wants to make a very expensive bet on their fight, leading that director (who is specifically mentioned as being fairly smart) to believe he has Nerves of Steel. Later on, he accidentally hits Julius' head with a thrown can (he didn't even see the guy) just when he was about to break Sawada's legs. Nikaido gets convinced he is extremely skilled for doing that perfectly from a blind spot and later dodging his nearly invisible needle (he bowed at the exact right time to apologize for the can), while Julius is surprised that the guy managed to hit him without exuding any "bloodlust".
  • Mocky Mouse: Tochigi Destiny Land has a mascot consisting of a mouse with plate-like ears and pants with two buttons in the front named Mockey.
  • Morality Kitchen Sink: Characters run the full gamut from extreme Nice Guy to full-on Hate Sink. The very nature of the Kengan Association means that every CEO involved is a Corrupt Corporate Executive, but the degree of said corruption also greatly varies.
  • Muscles Are Meaningful: Considering even the leanest of fighters still have very defined musculature, this is played quite straight in general. However it is played completely straight and exemplified by Julius Reinhold. A literal walking mass of pure dense musculature, Julius completely tanked Sawada's strongest kick using only his trapezius muscle.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: From fighters to executives to Background characters, the manga is rife with blatant references to real life businessmen, martial artists and athletes.
    • Dazai Yukio, the head of Teito University, looks exactly like Japanese author Dazai Osamu, who committed suicide after several attempts, and has the last name of Yukio Mishima, who attempted to carry out a coup on the Japanese Imperial estate before committing ritual suicide. Sure enough, Dazai Yukio always carries around a sword and is willing to die to atone over not stopping Bando Yohei when they were fellow med students.
    • An obvious caricature of infamous boxing promoter Don King can be seen in the audience commenting on boxing technique.
    • Word of God states that Murobuchi Gozo was modeled after the hammer-thrower Murofushi Koji.
    • One chapter begins with a flashback to a balding older man who could once kill bulls with his karate. His appearance and feats mirror the founder of Kyokushin karate, Mas Oyama.
    • Sekibayashi's wrestling mentor Babadozan Hiroshi had the same impressive physique and distinctive jaw as legendary Japanese professional wrestler Antonio Inoki, even though his name is taken from Wrestling/Rikidozan.
    • The president of Motor Head Motors bears a distinct resemblance to Lemmy Kilmister.
    • Throughout the manga there have been the appearances of Presidents Mobama, Frump and Petin.
    • The boss of Tochigi Destiny Land is a clear stand-in for Michael Eisner, one of the more controversial people to ever be in charge of Disney.
  • No Doubt the Years Have Changed Me: The second to last chapter of Zero is about an unnamed man struggling to survive in post-World War II Tokyo. After he manages to bluff his way past a Kure Clan member, it's revealed at the end of the chapter that this is the backstory of a young Katahara Metsudo.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Done by multiple characters when asserting their dominance. Notable ones are Kure Raian's annihilation of Mokichi Robinson and Muteba Gizenga's destruction of Meguro Masaki.
  • Not Afraid to Die:
    • Despite his great enjoyment in the act of killing, Meguro Masaki died in an equally satisfied manner, going out with a huge grin on his face.
      Upon dying: Ahhhh... that was fun...
    • As a child, Tokita Ohma. After being beaten almost to a pulp by Ando Jiro, Ohma flung them both out of a multi-storey high window, with Ando noting the unnerving lack of fear in Ohma's eyes.
  • Not Just a Tournament: Both the Kengan Annihilation Tournament in Ashura and the Kengan Association vs. Purgatory matches puts a lot more at stake than the fighters' personal desire to prove himself the strongest of them all.
    • The main purpose of the Annihiliation Tournament is to decide the new Chairman of the Kengan Association, and the fighters are merely pawns for their sponsor to achieve that goal. There's plenty of backdoor dealings, with the companies trying to rig the matches to their favour (e.g. forcing rivaling companies to withdraw from the competition); at one point, one of the participants decide to forgo the Tournament altogether, and try to seize the Chairman's seat by force.
    • Kengan Association vs. Purgatory isn't just a fighting competition to determine which "team" has better players, but it puts the entire existence of both organizations at stake, as the losing side will be absorbed into the winning side. Complicating things further is the involvement of The Worm, who has infiltrated into both the Kengan Association and Purgatory for motives that has yet to be revealed.
  • Not So Similar: When Inaba Ryo's employer likens Meguro Masaki and Muteba Gizenga to him by calling them assassins, Inaba says that he was nothing like them as assassins don't kill without a reason.
  • Oh, Crap!: Kenzo's reaction when he sees the policemen and the mob outside of his home are all Kure Clan.
    • During their fight, Ohma redirects all of Wakatsuki's collosal strength back into him with a Demonsbane, sending him sailing across the arena. With his last few breaths, Ohma comments that not even Wakatsuki could withstand a blow like that. Cue Wakatsuki sitting up like a slasher villain, leaving Ohma looking outright fearful for one of the few times in the series. Thankfully, Wakatsuki is in no condition to actually fight.
  • Professional Killer: There are lots of mercenaries and assassins competing in the tournament including Inaba Ryo, Kure Raian and Kuroki Gensai.
  • Pro Wrestling Is Real: The story is very aware of kayfabe, as are most of the characters, who treat the idea of fighting Sekibayashi Jun with actual martial arts as a joke. Sekibayashi enjoys playing up his pro wrestler imagery, including refusing to block in combat and assuming silly personas in the ring. However, he is also very happy to show his opponents that, scripted or not, he is still in extremely good shape and has a great deal of fighting skill, and with his skills as an actor, he's very capable of Obfuscating Stupidity. Another pro wrestler on Jun's team, Jose Kanzaki, demonstrates a far more agile, luchador-like style of wrestling (also in a real, no-rules fight), which proves to be just as effective as Jun's.
    • Omega also seeds the return of shoot wrestling after its original flop in the 70s, as "pro wrestling but with even fewer holds barred" is a natural fit for the Kenganverse.
  • Psycho for Hire: Several characters fit, but Meguro Masaki is the craziest of them all. He can barely even be called an assassin so much as a rabid animal that his "employer", Hayami, lets loose on people he doesn't like.
  • Rated M for Manly: This centers around the titular Kengan tournament, where a bunch of musclebound men beat the shit out of each other in cool and badass ways. It really says something when some of the low-tier fighters in the series are still people who can smash apart trucks as a warm-up routine.
  • Red Baron: All of the fighters in the series have at least one fear-inspiring nickname. Later down the road with many Kengan Matches under his belt, Ohma gets nicknamed "Ashura", a vicious fighting demon. This is coming from an Association filled with vicious fighters, so Ohma became a demon among demons.
  • Running Gag: Despite the lack of proper continuity in the 4-Koma strips, their gags tend to follow a particular pattern.
    • The 4 idiots (Rihito, Okubo, Himuro and Kaneda) never fail to get lost/stranded in the wilderness whenever they go on trips. They even lampshade it, saying that this has practically become a tradition.
    • Rihito and Okubo getting arrested due to their drunken hijinks. Yamashita comments that the pair gets into trouble a lot.
    • Nikaido Ren's increasingly perverted choice of fashion, and Cai's inability to stop him from going out in public with it.
    • King Rama's continued inability to go "Incognito", due to his lack of understanding that commoners don't normally indulge in his usual Conspicuous Consumption.
    • Ohma's preoccupation with the setsubun causes him to link every other Japanese festival with soybean throwing.
      Yamashita: "How long are you going to keep dragging setsubun out?!"
  • Seen It All: Downplayed example in Omega Chapter 96, where Alan Wu being torn in half by Raian reduces the Purgatory referee and the audience to shocked silence and horror, while the Kengan commentators while shaken continue commenting because sudden brutal deaths tend happen in their tournaments.
  • Serial Killer:
    • Bando Yohei is considered the worst serial killer in Japan's history. Bad enough to warrant the death penalty, though he survived every attempt to execute him.
    • Meguro Masaki and Muteba Gizenga are also perceived as serial killers (and not merely mercenaries) due to their excessively bloody histories and high body counts.
  • Shared Universe: How Heavy Are the Dumbbells You Lift?, Sandrovich Yabaka's episodic weight lifting manga, is connected to this series. It features many character cameos from Kengan, even those from characters who have already died in the story, and one of the leading girls is Shion Soryuin's little sister and the cast goes to/works at the Koyo Academy where she is chairman.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Meguro Masaki's tongue lolling was inspired by Venom.
    • Ohma's fight against Rihito takes place in the Makunouchi Building.
    • One of the bars that members of the Kure Clan like to visit is called Red Rum.
    • In the first chapter of Omega Kazuo starts listing all the different underground fighting groups out there, and casually mentions that there's even one being run out of Tokyo Dome.
    • Several panels where Inaba is featured tends to zoom into his eye glaring past his hair in a similar fashion to the posters of The Grudge and The Ring.
  • Slasher Smile: Many of the fighters sport these when they're on the offensive or about to stage a massive comeback. Conversely, it's dangerous to not be wary of the high-level characters who don't indulge in this.
  • So Last Season: The Removal technique, which unleash a certain percentage of unrestrained muscle power, made Raian one of the favorite to win the tournament in Ashura. By Omega two other clans are shown to also have the eugenic training to reliably have fighters unleash their muscle power to a 100%, they usually get mangled by Strong and Skilled user of the Removal or dispatched within seconds by an armed opponent. One of them even lampshades Removal is just a number.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The series' title can be either Kengan Ashura or Kengan Asura, the official Japanese print romanizes it as Kengan Ashura, some fan translators however prefer to stick with Kengan Asura.
  • Strong Flesh, Weak Steel: This seems to be one of the marks of a truly strong fighter
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Despite how over-the-top the series seems at first, it frequently invokes this. The action is less outright fantastical and more an exaggerated version of real combat sports, and thus remains somewhat grounded.
    • Haruo is an overweight giant of a man, which comes to bite him in his match when Akoya delivers several focused strikes to Haruo's right knee. Eventually, the injuries take their toll and Haruo's leg starts straining from the sheer weight of his own body.
    • Sekibayashi is a human tank who makes up for his unwillingness to block or dodge by being able to soak up an enormous amount of damage. After his win against Kiozan Takeru, he collapses from exhaustion, a fractured knee capsule and extensive injuries after leaving the stadium.
    • Also, no matter how physically tough a fighter like Sekibayashi truly is, he still needs to breathe. Both Ohma and Muteba managed to knock him out by striking his windpipe and his heart respectively.
    • Kaneda's Kujin Style is designed for combat in warfare, specifically by disabling an opponent with weapons and armor, then finishing them off as quickly as possible with (what the style assumes the user should have) a knife. This martial art is largely unsuited against the unarmed styles of the other, stronger Kengan fighters and he ends taking a beating before he finally manages to get a hit in.
    • Sukechi is damn good at predicting his opponents moves, but he lacks the physical ability to take down individuals in the Kengan matches, and has to resort to sneak attacks to eke out a win. This means that on paper he's a very effective fighter, but in practice his style has its flaws. When he fights Kaolan, a person who has spent years honing his own reflexes to make micro-adjustments to his movements when he sees his opponents going to block, he ends up losing.
    • Cosmo Imai may be a hard-working young genius with incredible pound-for-pound strength, but he's still a featherweight in an Openweight fighting league. He constantly goes up against opponents who are bigger, stronger and tougher than he is and often just as skilled as well, meaning they have his number in a straight up fist-fight. Thus he uses Jiu-Jitsu, with his personal style having a particular emphasis on chokeholds, allowing him to somewhat negate the disadvantage and bring down his hulking opponents. Nonetheless, the injuries he suffers from the blows they land on him cause him to collapse right after he wins and accumulate over time (a serious problem at the Anihilation Tournament, which has only a day to rest between rounds), while his opponents come out barely injured due to the manner in which he defeated them. Cosmo spends most of the tournament in a wheelchair as a result.
    • Cosmo is a 19 year old who entered the tournament simply to fight, not fight to the death. Unfortunately, this tournament has no rules towards killing and allows mercenaries and serial killers to compete. So when Akoya bites into Cosmo's leg, the boy starts shaking uncontrollably and fearing for his life. His employer Akira is fully aware of this and states that he doesn't consider himself to be considered a good person for it by any means.
    • Kaolan is a boxer who fights in the heavyweight division despite actually being a Cruiserweight. His style of boxing, which emphasizes mobility and rapid strikes, is built for fighting opponents who are usually bigger than him. He proves to be the the Fang's superior in terms of striking and has the upper hand for most of the fight. Nonetheless, against the massive Agito, who outweighs him by 30kg(66lbs), this style of fighting actually becomes a disadvantage because Agito's sheer size (and just being ridiculously tough even for his size) lets him power through over twenty clean hits from Kaolan. On the flipside, Kaolan ends up on the ropes after a mere two clean hits and two throws.
    • By Omega, Cosmo and Adam have vastly improved from their appearances in Ashura and are a prime candidates to represent the Kengan Association in the tournament against Purgatory. Internal politics within the Association prevent them from representing Kengan, as their employers belong in Chairman Nogi's faction and accommodating other factions was required.
    • Julius is pretty much the living embodiment of why weight classes exist in normal combat sports. It literally does not matter how good you are at your martial art or how many secret techniques you have if the guy you're up against is 2-3 times your size and weight and knows what he's doing. Julius' sheer musculature renders him practically immune to both striking and grappling attempts from anyone that isn't close to his own size.
    • He takes this to a logical extreme with his fight against Toa in Omega. Even though Toa is a martial artist of comparable size and musculature, in the past two years, Julius managed to gain such control over his muscles that he's effectively invincible to strikes. While Toa could have reasonably adapted to Julius' change in body makeup, Rolón notes that "passivity is the wrong move" as Julius leaps forward and crushes his defenses in an instant. In the end, the only way to beat someone so strong is to never let them get a chance to strike in the first place, but Toa's ego blinded him to this fact and as a result, Julius cuts him down in one blow.
    • Kiryu probably has the most dramatic reality check in the series in his battle against Gensai Kuroki where, despite having an unresolved rivalry with Ohma, practicing an esoteric and anatomy-shattering martial art, having his own Super Mode and inventing numerous new techniques on the fly, he simply cannot stand up to the fundamentally superior opponent who takes all his improvisations in stride. Kuroki systematically dismantles his incredibly strong palm strikes piecemeal throughout the fight and beating him with down with bread-and-butter moves until he was so close to killing Kiryu that the latter was forced into using his own lethal palm strike to shove heart out of the way just so he'd leave the match alive. Despite his extensive injuries, Kiryu later tries to take on Ohma while still horribly injured from the previous match, with predictable results.
    • In Omega, Haruo's still overweight despite training under Sekibayashi due to overeating on the meals he's given and occasionally slacking off to play videogames. While Haruo has recovered his niceties and warrior spirit, he did spend years indulging in vices, and that will still take time for him to get over them regardless of his desire to improve himself.
    • Purgatory has overtaken the Kengan association because there are rules that protect their fighters, most importantly: if a fighter kills their opponent, they are disqualified and not paid. The promise of a measure of safety attracts more fighters and a greater audience, as not many people actively want to see a man killed in the ring.
    • Gensai's an Old Master at the tail-end peak of his physical prime, and his tournament run shows off just how deadly that combination is. He's Seen It All as he knows about the Niko and Koei styles so when Kiryu and Ohma use them he recognizes them from being old allies of the former two's masters. He also has fought and has discussed their martial arts which makes him instantly realize that they have passed it down to both of the young fighters. His incredibly intense and painful training gives him a Razor-Sharp Hand, and he's a Genius Bruiser who can predict and parry almost every single one of Rei's attacks despite them being too fast for the human eye to follow. Agito Kanoh is the one of only fighters who proves able to fight him on fairly even footing.
    Ohma: Yamashitakazuo did tell me that there might be guys out there who are stronger than me, and this old man's definitely one of them.
    • In Omega, Koga steps up to defend Kazuo from some of the Worm's henchmen. Despite managing to win a five-on-one fight against armed opponents, he still takes a massive beating that leaves him crippled. As it turns out, multiple stab wounds and deep lacerations can cripple you not matter how tough you are, and Koga is forced to bow out of the tournament with Ohma as his replacement.
    • Koga is a very talented fighter, and it's heavily implied that he has The Gift for martial arts in the form of his intelligence and reaction speed. He doesn't take long to be educated enough to start being a serious threat in martial arts, but there's one thing he lacks- experience. It does not matter how much of a savant you are, as a lack of experience means that your well of talent won't get put to good use. Thus, while Koga is on his way to being a seriously dangerous fighter (possibly on the level of Ohma himself, if Ohma's comments towards him in the hospital are true) his lack of experience means that he can't hope to measure up to any of the real heavyweights in the association. As a result he barely ekes out a win against the guy who's probably the worst fighter in the association, and is forced to bow out of the Purgatory grudge match following his injuries from the above ambush.
    • As big as Kengan is, it remains a shady bloodsport that more respectable combat sport associations and martial art schools want no involvement in. The Rokushin karate dojo refuses to train active members and Kiozan's black sheep status in sumo circle is because he participates in them.
    • Koga may have been undergoing Training from Hell and made leaps from where he was a few months ago, but a few months of hellish training does not give the years of real combat experience that other fighters have. When Koga is forced to fend off five armed attacker trying to kill him, while he fended them off well, he still ends up badly wounded and needed to be helped by Metsudo's Bodyguards.
    • Likewise, although Koga might be talented, six months of hellish training isn't enough to bring him up to the level required to participate in the Kengan-Purgatory Tournament, discounting the knife wounds he took. After seeing the first match between Kaolan and Medel, he's forced to sheepishly admit that, quote, "I wouldn't have been able to do shit in there."
    • Carlos Medel, a boxer who dropped from heavyweight to bantamweight and is arguably more skilled than Kaolan. Carlos may be more mobile than him, slips his blows easily and land more strikes, but the weight difference means that landing even a jab is enough to hurt Carlos. The size difference is enough that Carlos abandons fighting with purely boxing and mixes in some kicks of his own. When even that fails Carlos settles for a Ring Out.
    • As discussed by several fighters on the Kengan Association side, Carlos increasing weight to go from Middleweight to Heavyweight hampered his performance in the ring, his frame was not suited for putting on 30 excess kilos of muscle and thus his striking power peaked far below Heavyweight. At the same time, the sheer weight difference between him now, a Bantamweight at best, fighting Kaolan Wongsawat, a Heavyweight means that while he moves in a higher dimension of speed, even a jab from a heavyweight would hurt him and being fast doesn't mean he's unable to be figured out. Kaolan ends up walking away from the fight with barely a couple of bruises, while Carlos is a beaten mess with a horrifically broken nose in comparison.
    • His initial move to "underground martial arts" show him struggling against other martial artists that he had no experience with, and demonstrates that even the pound for pound greatest boxer and heavyweight champion needed to adjust his weight and add new techniques to his arsenal to stay on top of different martial arts. He decided to add Capoeira and Digongquan to his skillset, rounding out his striking, increasing his reach and giving him knowledge of striking joints.
    • Like Carlos, The Falcon is fighting someone with greater offensive power but not as nimble as him. So when Rihito hits him once with his Signature Move, The Falcon is not gonna be able to recover without medical intervention and must end the fight fast or he'll lose. Kaneda also mentions that by the weight difference between the two The Falcon can't knock out his opponent with one hit.
    • Fighting in a shrinking ring with a large body against a skilled smaller opponent ends up being a disadvantage in the long run, hampering his mobility and psychologically affecting his performance as he worries stepping outside the ring, while his smaller opponent doesn't have such issues. To make things worse most of the styles he uses are made for a wide open area.
    • Jurota is an absolutely massive Judoka who was already world-class in his teens and getting thrown by him is every bit as dangerous as you think it would be, especially on a tiled ring. Which is actually a problem for Jurota. The power of a throw is much harder to regulate than say a punch, so he has to be careful in how he throws his opponent without killing him. Rolón points out the irony of Jurota having become so incredibly powerful that the Purgatory rules are actively holding him back from performing at his best.
    • No matter how powerful his "Swing" techniques are, he's unable to throw Masaki with one hand after his right clavicle is broken.
    • As Rolón points out his "Eye in the sky" technique is not a real Top-Down View, it's Naidan's instincts being so good it feels like he can survey from above but he can't really see what is happening behind his back if his opponent is too fast or unpredictable.
    • There is in theory nothing stopping anyone from using "Removal", the Kure and Wu clan bloodline technique of releasing their muscle inhibitor. It's just that this trope will apply to them as unlike the Kure and Wu they aren't bred to have body that can handle the strain.
    • Just like real fight night MMA events, there's a few hiccups in the final lineup Idemitsu is left with, and in addition to delaying the competition for several months due to Yumigahama getting his arm broken in Jose's revenge match, there's several fighters who had to be replaced on short notice; an A-list Sserium wrestler had to pull out of the tournament due to suddenly having to take over the family's greengrocery back in Korea, and Swedish A-list fighter Kim Kurt had to pull out due to an injury. That's not even getting into the fact that just under a third of the full lineup are Worms or directly working with Worm.
  • Take That!: In chapter 84, as part of Karo Yoshinari's introduction to the ring, one of his feats mentioned is sinking a ship belonging to the environmentalist group "Sea Chepherd" and capturing Paul Manson, an "international terrorist." This is a reference to the real-life Sea Shepherd Conservation Society and its founder, Paul Watson. Let's just say that the SSCS and Japan have some bad blood between them.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: When the Kengan Association is under the thread of being devoured by Purgatory, the previously opposing factions within the group are forced to get over their differences and work together in order to remain afloat. This is exploited by Hayami, who agrees to help Nogi with the stipulation that he gets to become Deputy Chairman if the fighter he sends wins his round.
  • Tournament Arc: The vast majority of Ashura is dedicated to the Kengan Annihilation Tournament, which decides the next chairman of the Kengan Association. Omega also features a lengthy 13 vs. 13 tournament to decide the outcome of a merger between the Kengan Association and rival underground fight organization Purgatory.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Ohma and Raian when they both activate their own similar yet respected abilities as they both become extremely aggressive and act more like wild animals than human beings.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: As part of a Running Gag, every single time a character appears onscreen for the first time in a chapter, their name and affiliation are listed. This includes Kazuo and Ohma, the main characters of the series. Notably, this actually works quite well, due to the large cast.
  • Wham Shot: In Chapter 50 of Kengan Omega, Kazuo had been surrounded by Xia Ji and the other members of the Worm, while Koga is left fighting five other assassins. Just before Kazuo is executed, he is saved by Raian... Only to also reveal that he didn't come alone, with a shot of Ohma Tokita from the back, in the one of the few colored pages of the series.
  • Worf Effect: Rihito slowly becomes this after his first fight with Tokita Ohma, losing nearly every battle against named characters from that point forward despite his continued growth in strength and skill.
  • Would Hurt a Child: In a flashback extra chapter, "The Wrecker" Ando Jiro had absolutely no qualms using lethal force against a pre-pubescent Ohma, beating the child bloody. Unfortunately for Ando, kid Ohma was Not Afraid to Die.
  • Younger Than They Look: Several of the fighters are still in their early twenties, but with the exception of Cosmo, they look far older than that. It's lampshaded by the group themselves.
    Cosmo: Are these people really my age?
    Nezu: (about Kiozan) Motherfucker looks like that and he's younger than me?
    Kiozan: (about Nezu) This son of a bitch is in his 20s? You gotta be kidding me.

Alternative Title(s): Kengan Asura