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Manga / Kongoh Bancho

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A shonen manga that was published in Shonen Sunday magazine. It stars high school student Akira Kongoh, a ten-to-twelve-foot-tall mountain of muscle with incredibly spiky Anime Hair, mile-wide shoulders, and a stare that could cut bread.

After a series of misadventures involving a young girl named Hinako Sakura, who has a compulsion to take pictures of things that are "sooooo unusual" with her cell phone's camera, and her younger sister Tsukimi, in which he demonstrates his incredible strength and resilience (as well as his capacity for kindness and understanding), Kongoh reveals his reasons for his sudden appearance: He has come to stop something called "The 23 District Project". This involves people called "Bancho", people who have exceptional fighting skills as well as great amounts of charisma (and who can be identified by the dark red phoenix tattoo on the back of their neck), fighting for control of the 23 districts of Japan. (The word "bancho" itself is usually used to refer to the leader of a delinquent gang, and all Bancho wear Japanese school uniform jackets, in one form or another.) Whosoever conquers them all will be given control of Japan and will be able to mold its future to their liking.


He later ends up defeating one of the Bancho - Iai Bancho, a master of iaijutsu. He is then told that defeating a bancho means you gain their territory and are now part of the 23 District Project, whether you want to be or not, and is given his new title by his defeated opponent: Kongoh Bancho.

From there, it leads to awesome fights with The Power of Friendship causing Defeat Means Friendship to those who are defeated, while trying to stop the Big Bad and his Absurdly Powerful Student Council from destroying Japan's population.

The manga ended with 114 chapters and 12 volumes.


This manga provides examples of:

  • Bears Are Bad News: An interesting case with the "Mountain Destroyer", a cow that, when first seen, has a bear impaled on one horn and is chewing on another.
  • Big Damn Heroes: This happens later in the series when all of Kongoh's defeated enemies show up to help him when he's getting whupped by five Bancho at once.
  • Big Eater: Gouriki Bancho, which is explained to be due to her "Hyperion Constitution" and subsequent metabolism.
  • The Big Guy: Many, many people, but the main character is the first one we meet.
  • Bishōnen: Iai Bancho. Later, Shirobara Bancho. Nenchaku Bancho appears like this for a few moments, even prompting Gouriki Banchou to nearly squee... and then we get to the Squick.
  • Bishōnen Line: Lampshaded by Nenbutsu Bancho in his fight against Nenchaku Bancho, and is then subverted when this second form is every bit as squicky as the first.
  • Blow You Away: Nenbetsu Bancho's main form of attack, always called with the phrase "Katsu". It's really a Breath Weapon, and shouting Katsu is how he expels the air. Shouting "Butsu" changes the "caliber" on these air bullets, making them smaller, more powerful and capable of piercing most anything.
  • Brick Joke: Used twice at the same time at the end of the Five Dark Vows arc.
  • Butt-Monkey: Nenbutsu Banchou tends to get this treatment within The Team.
  • Calling Your Attacks: This happens a lot when anyone uses their signature move. Strangely, Kongoh used a Meteo Drive once then never used it again, in favor of his Double Hammer.
  • The Cape: Gouriki Bancho believes herself to be this.
  • Catchphrase: Every bancho has a catchphrase.
    • Kongoh's "That wasn't very smart at all..."note , which is used to precede a righteous ass-kicking. Also, "I don't care!"
    • From Hikyou Bancho, we have "Fair, cowardly way"
    • Nenbutsu Bancho's is "The afterlife is always open for business."
    • Rai has "Don't sweat the small stuff." This is a case of Like Father, Like Son.
  • Celibate Hero: Iai Bancho, which is hinted very early on when he insists Hinako wear a kimono and comments that she shouldn't be showing her legs, played for comedy when he sees girls in skirts, and then played for plot against a later Bancho, who gives him a Nosebleed when he so much as looks at her, causing him to slash his eyes out and fight that way.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Kongoh has plenty of these, such as his Megaton Punch, being Made of Iron, and his Walking On Water, which can hardly be Justified by his being a towering mass of muscle... And then we see his father and realize he's Not Quite Human. Also, if they aren't an outright freak of nature (like, say, Nenbutsu Bancho), Bancho tend to have these. Could be actually Subverted, as during the last arc it is actually implied that all the banchous are the by-products of Japanese super-soldier research.
  • Code Name: All the Bancho have one, which is lampshaded before we even see one when Kongoh labels a Mook "Homerun Bancho" but then realizes his mistake afterwards.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Hikyou Banchou. This guy is going to exploit every possible weakness and use any advantage he has to win. Hell he ends up making Kongoh get hit by a truck when he threw a rubber ball in the air which Kongoh (whose eyes were wounded by a earlier trick by Hikyou and could therefore not see well) saw as a grenade.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Hikyou Banchou takes the cake here. Seriously this guy is like a Japanese Batman. Before a fight he ends up giving a guy diarrhea by poisoning his food HOURS before the fight! Not to mention how much he is prepared to protect those he cares about He makes the orphans swallow pills that will nullify poison, has a freaking machine gun under his own fake arm (which a lot of people had assumed was real for quite some time) oh and he has a bomb in the shape of a kid just in case his enemy will take hostages. This guy is Batman with a penchant for using guns and explosives on people!
  • Cue the Sun: Light pours through the hole in the ceiling Kongoh made and envelops him, causing the cult he just defeated to view him as a living god, and they decide to follow him from now on. He shouts "I don't care! and walks away.
    • Used more literally at the end of the Five Dark Vows arc, when all the fighting has ended and it is now dawn.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Machine Bancho is a walking depositor of these.
  • Cute Bruiser: Gouriki Bancho
  • Dark Messiah: The whole point of the 23 Districts Project, but Nenbutsu Bancho actually turns himself into a cult leader.
  • Deceptively Human Robots: Inverted; you realize Machine Bancho is a robot before you see his body, which freaks his opponents out even more when they start thinking they're fighting a human, and he's, well, not. Is possibly a Ridiculously Human Robot, due to his musings about the nature of death in living creatures, as well as his flashbacks to one "Dr. Tsukina".
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Kongoh makes friends with people after messing them up something fierce, even resulting in a Heel–Face Turn for Oyanana despite the fact that Kongoh didn't even touch him (though he sure scared the crap out of him).
  • The Determinator: Kongoh turns out to be one of these when it counts.
  • Diagonal Cut: A specialty of Iai Bancho.
  • Dirty Coward: Hikyou Bancho is both this and a Manipulative Bastard at the same time. Hikyou means "cowardly", by the way.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Played with; Iai Bancho can't look at the sexy and pays dearly for it.
  • Domino Mask: Part of Hikyou Bancho's outfit.
  • Dumb Muscle: Lampshaded by Kangoku Bancho in reference to Gouriki Bancho, when he wonders if her brain is made of muscle as well. After her attacks end up having an effect after all, he wonders if she's really a Genius Bruiser... which she promptly shoots down when she panics.
  • Everything's Better with Dinosaurs: Kyoryu Bancho, a Contest Winner Cameo who shows up for one panel.
  • Evil Genius: Dr. Kagimiya, the guy who is in charge of Machine Bancho's maintenance.
  • Exact Words: Kongoh likes to show how badass he is by following this trope.
  • Expy: Hikyou Banchou looks like Kato with shorter shirt.
  • Eye Scream: Who knew that Iai Bancho would go to such lengths?
    "Now I don't have to look at you."
  • Fanservice: Pretty rare, but Douke Bancho brings it out in spades.
  • Fearful Symmetry: An interesting variation with Douke Bancho; Yoruko hides behind Asako and does everything exactly as she does, hiding her presence from the blinded Iai Bancho, and even the heroes, but not the villains who have a different perspective.
  • Five-Man Band: The Five Dark Vows.
  • Form-Fitting Wardrobe: Seen regularly on many characters, particularly the ones with massively muscular builds.
  • For the Evulz: Apparently the reason why Hikyou Banchou transferred the rest of the team into Kongou's class.
  • Gag Boobs: Douke Bancho, which results in a Nosebleed from Iai Bancho. To be fair, this is not the only contributing factor.
  • Generation Xerox: Rai seems like this at first, but he's really not Kongou's son, but his nephew.
    • Played straight anyway since he's not identical to Akira Kongoh but to Akira's brother, Takeshi Kongoh, who is his real father. They even share the same Catchphrase, quite improbable considering that Rai haven't even met his father.
  • Gratuitous English: Half of Jiryoku Bancho's dialogue consists of near-nonsensical Engrish.
  • The Gunslinger: Shageki Bancho, who wants to use guns to protect people. He's got Gun Fu and Guns Akimbo, as well as a team of other gunmen, one of which is a teammate with a Sniper Rifle for backup. Predictably, the Guns Are Worthless against Machine Banchou.
  • Handicapped Badass: Iai Bancho slashes his own eyes so that he doesn't have to look at his opponents. The bandages have yet to be removed, and he's still an excellent swordsman.
  • Happily Adopted: Rai, Kongoh's nephew, though he himself doesn't know it at the moment. He certainly loves his "mommy", though.
  • Healing Factor: Kongoh is implied to have one of these, as other characters get beaten up and they take a while to heal. Oyanana even got Put on a Bus he was beaten so badly at one point, whereas Kongoh treats getting hit by a truck as only a flesh wound, and even recovers from it by the end of the battle.
    • After it is revealed that the Kongoh is a species separate from humans and other mammals, this is soon explicitly stated to be part of the Kongoh genes by Hakai Bancho, who was created from them, as he immediately reconnects his severed arm.
  • The Hero Dies: Kongoh gets killed by Machine Bancho. There's been no evidence that he could get better, although he later does.
  • Hikikomori: Appears in one chapter. Kongoh straightens him out.
  • Honor Before Reason: Bakunetsu Bancho's "reason" for saving everyone else after Kabuki Bancho activates the Self-Destruct Mechanism is because he couldn't call himself hotblooded otherwise.
  • Hot-Blooded: Pretty much all the Banchous have moments of severe hot-blooded ness, but Bakunetsu Banchou takes this to the extreme, constantly yelling everything he says and declaring that anyone who isn't hot blooded should die. At least until he faces Kongoh Banchou...
    • In the final issue, Bakunetsu Banchou becomes a member of the Japanese government,and he has been causing quite a lot of commotion. He's made good on his promise to inject Japan with hot-blooded spirit.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Kongoh and the Sakura sisters, Gouriki Bancho and her minion sidekick Kairiki (she's also the shortest member of the team by far). Also the Kongou siblings' parents. Their dad is a man-mountain and their mom was normal-sized. It's best not to think how all 3 were conceived.
    • Two words: Turkey Baster.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Kabuki Bancho doesn't like Hikyou Bancho's cowardice. He's, well, no different in the end.
  • Idiot Hero: Gouriki Bancho. Unusual in that she's not the main character, but someone he fights.
  • Ironic Echo: The Nenbutsu arc begins and ends with the phrase "Is there no God or Buddha in this world?"
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Machine Bancho seems to be suffering from this, but it would be justified since he's, well, a machine.
  • Look Both Ways: Thank goodness Kongoh's Made of Iron. Hikyou's still a bastard, though.
  • Ludicrous Melee Accuracy: Iai Bancho does this first. Later, Shirobara Bancho leaves a remarkably detailed rose emblem on Hikyou Bancho's bare chest in an instant.
  • Made of Iron: It's a shonen, so natch. Kongoh takes this Up to Eleven, though he is far from invincible.
  • Mama Bear: Did you expect anything less from Action Mom Sasori Bancho?
  • Manipulative Bastard: Shirobara Bancho has elements of this when he decides to give Hikyou Bancho some Laser-Guided Karma.
  • Meaningful Name: The Bancho code names usually convey a good impression of what to expect from them. Kongou's real name is this, and thus gets turned into his code name as a Bancho.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The end result of Gouriki Bancho being both an Idiot Hero and a Well-Intentioned Extremist.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: Gouriki Bancho and her "Hyperion Constitution", which pretty much means she's made of titanium.
  • No Indoor Voice: "I'm Bakunetsu Bancho!! Men who aren't Hot-Blooded should die!!" Basically, if his mouth is open, he's probably shouting.
  • No Name Given: Played with; all the Bancho have names that they freely give out when they introduce themselves, but then they say what their code names are and we never hear their real names again, leading to Everyone Calls Them Bancho. Subverted with Kongoh, whose Code Name is his Meaningful Name.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Used repeatedly in the Five Dark Vows arc, especially in the final fight.
  • Noble Demon: Since his Heel–Face Turn, Hikyou Banchou takes every opportunity he can to remind everyone that he's only part of the team as part of his plan to be the last man standing. Even if there's some truth to it, there's the matter of going into a Tranquil Fury when Kongoh is killed by Machine Banchou, going so far as to take the latter on all by himself.
  • No Social Skills: Kongoh can't figure out a flip-top cellphone, and later on when he comments "What's e-mail?"
  • Old Retainer: Gokurou, the Shirayukinomiya's family butler.
  • One-Winged Angel:Kongoh, when he applies his muscle swelling to his entire body to create "Violent Mode"- capable of taking on Machine Banchou, who previously killed him with no effort, with ease.
  • Otaku: Nenbutsu Bancho is revealed to be one.
  • Overly Long Name: "Kobushi Shirayukinomiya", though it's not TOO long. Not surprisingly, we hear her name more than the other Bancho.
  • The Paralyzer: Sasori Banchou. Her name means "scorpion", so this is no surprise.
  • Playing with Fire: Bakunetsu Bancho, with his gunpowder gloves and the rather creative use thereof. There's also his minions, who try various ways to set Kongoh on fire.
  • The Power of Friendship: It's unknown whether or not this is literal, but it has been claimed that Kongoh derives power from those who believe in him.
  • Rated M for Manly: Just reading this will cause testosterone production to triple.
    • Tagline for the chapter 38, Bakunetsu VS Kongoh
    A lethal dose of manliness is breaking through! Try not to get addicted!
  • Razor Floss: Hikyou Bancho's secret weapon that he hesitates to use against humans. Thankfully, Machine Banchou's minions are all sentient robots.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Kongoh really likes his pudding.
  • The Rival: Kongoh's brother Takeshi
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: What happens when Kongoh is killed by Machine Bancho, and the other Bancho find out about it.
  • Rule of Cool: The accepted in-universe explanation for Kongoh and the others coming back to life on their own after their hearts stopped.
  • Running Gag: A few, such as the characters not believing what just happened.
  • Samurai: Iai Bancho, though he has traits of a Knight in Shining Armor as well considering how he treats women.
  • Savage Wolves: Despite being human (or maybe not?), Ourou Banchou (King Wolf Banchou) is definitely lupine, and projects a wolfish fear aura that would make Toriko proud.
  • Say It with Hearts: A couple of times, though Hikyo Bancho is a repeat offender.
  • Serial Escalation: The main character starts off chapter one by saving a jerkass from falling steel girders with his body, attacking a yakuza compound while carrying a car, getting stabbed with knives and breaking the blades off with just his back muscles, then breaking a sword in midswing with his bare hands. Oh, and those last three items? He did them just to get a yakuza underling to apologize for ripping up a little girl's drawing. It only escalates from there.
  • Single-Minded Twins: A variation; Douke Bancho had to train to gain the ability to invoke this at will.
  • Social Darwinist: An unusual case; Bakunetsu Bancho believes that men who aren't hot-blooded should "just go die".
  • Something About a Rose: Shirobara Bancho. His name means "White rose".
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Subverted, as the Bancho Kongoh fights early in the story beat the crap out of ones that show up later on. Both played straight and subverted with Machine Bancho, who not only blows away all older Bancho, but also claims that he's at least as strong as Kongoh's older brother, one of the Big Bads.
    • The Dark Student Council plays this straight, though it's not surprising since all of its members are the banchous who've come out on top in their own prefectures. As a testament to their strength, one was able to take out six Banchou with a One-Hit Kill, and later on defeat Ourou and Iai Banchou. The other one took on Nenbutsu, Gouriki, Hikyou and Sasori Banchou, losing only when Kongoh himself kicked his ass — and even then he still managed to escape.
  • Stage Magician: Douke Bancho is this but with great emphasis put on the magic.
  • Talk to the Fist: Nenbutsu Bancho is quite surprised when Kongoh doesn't let him finish speaking, let alone call his attacks.
  • Teen Pregnancy: Sasori Bancho doesn't seem to think much of this at first, but then she leads us to believe she's a Woman Scorned. Turns out it's not even her kid. Probably a case of You Never Asked.
  • The Team: When Kongoh teams up with some other Bancho, they form a five person band. note 
    • The Leader: Kongou Bancho. Leader simply for never having been beaten.
    • The Lancer: Iai Bancho. A level-headed and honorable swordsman.
    • The Smart Guy: Hikyou Bancho: Uses trickery and deception. Fights smarter, not harder.
    • The Big Guy: Gouriki Bancho. Considering the fact that she swings around two iron balls on sticks that are as big as she is, it counts.
    • The Heart: Nenbutsu Bancho. Only gets here by being a psuedo-Buddhist priest but it does however cover the philosophical side.
  • This Is a Drill: Drill Banchou
  • Thoroughly Mistaken Identity: Machine Bancho believes Tsukimi to be the mysterious "Dr. Tsukina", whose orders supersede Dr. Kagimiya's. Except the order to kill Kongoh. Poor Tsukimi.
    • Noticeably, we know that this shouldn't be the case, as Machine Banchou identifies humans by their voice patterns and with a retina scan instead of just, you know, looking at them.
  • Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe: Justified, since the 23 District Project was conceived by the Japanese Government, the ultimate intended result being the rebirth of Japan. The rest of the world (so far, anyways) doesn't even factor into the equation.
  • Took a Level in Badass: Oyanana, though not to the point that he could be considered a Bancho. Doesn't stop him from declaring himself the new Kongoh Bancho and trying to fight Machine Bancho.
    • Played straight with Kongoh first after dying against Machine Bancho and secondly against Ousama Bancho.
  • Tournament Arc: The entire series is nothing but this.
  • Training from Hell: Too bad for Oyanana, this ISN'T what he gets from Gokurou.
  • Tranquil Fury: Hikyou Bancho after Kongoh's death.
    • "My blood has never boiled this hot before. But... My heart is cold and calm, like an ocean of darkness." Said while he's holding Machine Bancho's FREAKING ARM in his hand.
  • Twinkle in the Sky: Gouriki Bancho uses a giant morningstar to "fish" Unabara Bancho right out of the ocean, yanking hard enough to send him flying up into the sky and out of sight.
  • Übermensch: Ostensibly, the goal of the 23 District Project and its larger, nation-spanning expansion is to create one of these that will lead Japan into greatness. Whether the leader of this program Takeshi Kongou is an Übermensch himself or simply a Nietzsche Wannabe remains to be seen.
  • Use Your Head: In two different situations, Kongou was blackmailed into staying still while his opponent beat him, due to them holding one of his friends hostage. The first time this happened, the blackmailer specified "Don't move your arms or legs". Kongou used this trope and reminded them afterwards "That wasn't very smart at all". However, the second time this happened the blackmailer was savvy enough to tell him not to move his head either.
  • Villainous Harlequin: Douke Bancho's name makes you think they'll be this, though they are more of a Stage Magician.
  • Walk on Water: Kongoh pulls this off on a piranha infested pool, and berates the members of Nenbutsu's cult when they compare his Charles Atlas Superpower to Jesus.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Gouriki Bancho, who believes herself to be a superhero on the side of justice. The people she "saves" don't really think so.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue
  • Whip It Good: Hikyo Bancho
  • White-and-Grey Morality: Many Bancho have a pretty good reason for fighting in the 23 District Project, the whole point of which is to make Japan a better place. Kongoh beats the crap out of them anyways, but it all works out in the end.
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: Kongoh and Iai Bancho have theirs put to the test when they see Gokurou arrive with a cauldron of food for Gouriki Bancho a moment after she calls for it.
    • Done again when Nenbutsu Bancho grows a full head of hair through sheer willpower.
    • Many of the Banchous plans to improve Japan. Housing situation problem? Stick everyone in 4x4x4 boxes for homes. Food shortages? Everyone eat bugs. This tends to be Lampshaded.
  • The Worf Effect: Wolf Fang, a group made up of the seven remaining Banchous, is set up to be a reprise of the Five Dark Vows arc to reach the end of the 23 District Project. They get set up by the Dark Student Council, and all but the leader are taken down in a One-Hit Kill. That's not one shot each. TOTAL.
  • World of Badass: Sort of. Too many badasses for it to not count, but the whole point is that they live in an otherwise normal Tokyo.
  • World of Ham: Also comes across as this some of the time; very noticeable in the Gouriki Bancho arc.
  • World's Strongest Man: Kongoh gives the impression of being this. Then you meet Gouriki Bancho, though Kongoh beats her in the end.
    • And then it turns out that Kongoh went easy on her because his full attacks would have knocked her straight into some kind of hyper acid. When they have a rematch after Gouriki Bancho's misunderstanding, she doesn't last past the first hammer.
      • Then later, we meet the world's strongest man's brother, who is even stronger. Then there's the world's strongest man's father, who is probably stronger than both of his children COMBINED.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Averted. In a fight it pretty much has no bearing whether the opponent is male or female.


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