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Manga / Osu! Karate Club

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Osu! Karate Club (押忍!!空手部; Osu!! Karate-bu) is a 1985 manga written and illustrated by Takahashi Kouji that was published in Shuukan Young Jump.

It began as a comical Slice of Life series about Japan's teenage delinquent gang subculture told from the perspective of Matsushita Tadashi, a 2nd year student at Kangokou High and a constant target of numerous bullies who beat him up routinely after school. He is accompanied by his best friend Saitou Takaki, who is also constantly harassed.

As the pair grows tired of being victimized they decide to join the titular Karate Club, which is notorious throughout Osaka's youth gangs for training and producing the city's most hardened teenage thugs while maintaining the facade of a legit school sports club. But when they join, they find themselves picked on just as much if not worse by their new upperclassmen.

The story gradually changed its tone to a more serious and violent martial arts manga, with the perspective changing from Matsushita to his mentor Takagi Yoshiyuki, the streetwise, tough-as-nails captain of the Kangokou Karate Club as he faces the power struggles between delinquent gangs in both Osaka and its neighbouring cities.


The series was influenced by Aa!! Hana no Ouendan and influenced stories like Cromartie High School in turn. It spawned a four episode OVA mini-series released from 1990 to 1992, a 1990 live action movie, and a 1994 Super Famicom fighting game.

The manga has been digitally released in English via Media Do.

This manga features the following tropes:

  • Ain't Too Proud to Beg: Takagi tries peacefully begging his Osakan rivals to stop fighting over the title of Soul of Osaka since it's obviously a plot from the Shikoku Alliance to take over the city, but runs out of patience as his allies are hurt and tackles them all at a tournament with the assistance of Sagawa, Rikizan and Sakuma.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: David Furuta. Aside from his first name, curly hair, and his ludicrously high intelligence, he also wields a Jericho 941, an Israeli-made gun.
  • And This Is for...:
    • In chapter 3, Takagi dedicates his beatdown of Ando to Matsushita and Saito.
    • Takagi defeats Rick Powered with the signature attacks of his allies before dedicating the finishing blow to his Club and himself.
    • Takagi defeats Boku Majima by breaking his limbs while claiming to be able to move through the power of the people who were nearly killed by Boku.
      "Sorry... I ain't trying to do this... But my body's movin' itself. It's sayin' 'Break his leg!'"
  • Artifact Title: The early chapters revolve around Matsushita's woes at the titular Karate Club, but as focus changes to Takagi the story becomes more about delinquent gang wars even though he sets up a second Karate Club in Tokyo with a Title Drop by its door.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority:
    • In chapter 3, the Boxing Club starts pushing everyone around after Takagi loses a duel to Ando, but as soon as Takagi settles the score Matsushita and Saito suddenly become able to humiliate the boxing students in revenge.
    • After Takagi fakes his death, Kabada becomes the new Karate Club captain and Matsushita and Saito are both made the vices. Not because they're any strong, but because of their passion for the Club and their fellow members.
  • Atop a Mountain of Corpses: In chapter 201, Takagi sits atop a pile of Shibuya Corps mooks he had just defeated.
  • Badass Boast: Takagi introduces himself to his new classmates at West Shinjuku Academy by asking one guy to hold a table for him, blasting them both with Fa Jin all the way to the next classroom and then sternly telling the others to just get along with him.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Interestingly, Takagi starts doing this regularly after setting a Title Drop signboard on his new Karate Club in Tokyo.
    • One of the volume covers has Takagi asking the viewer to purchase it. In the story itself, on chapter 162, while daring a line of students of West Shinjuku Academy to hit him as a show of resolve, Takagi jokingly asks one to buy Osu!! Karatebu volumes.
    • On chapter 195, Takagi shouts that if he misses his final Fa Jin than the next chapter will be the last.
    • On chapter 198, Takagi asks Takeuchi if he's inviting him to read past issues of the manga together.
  • Breakout Character: Matsushita and Saito are the focus of the first few chapters, but their mentor Takagi proved far more popular and upstaged them as the true protagonist.
  • The Bus Came Back: Kitamura from the Sumo Club shows up a hundred chapters later as one of the strongest Osaka fighters looking to dethrone Takagi, complete with a 4th wall break joke to him first appearing in volume 1. He remains a Warm-Up Boss, though...
  • Butt-Monkey: Matsushita and Saito are weaklings compared to everyone else and on top of suffering under their upperclassmen's antics also frequently get their asses kicked while fighting for justice, though Takagi appreciates their strong morals and always ropes them along on adventures. Even as they do slowly grow as fighters, their misfortune gets to the point Matsushita openly expresses shame to Takagi over how weak they are.
  • Camping a Crapper: The Shadow Five try ambushing Takagi on the toilet, but he expected this and had his friends in wait for a counterattack. Unfortunately, they still get their asses kicked and Takagi is left hospitalized for some time.
  • Car Fu: Sato, the Shadow Five leader, takes a faceful of a speeding motorcycle twice, once by Takagi's decoy and then on a Dynamic Entry by Takagi himself.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The story gets increasingly serious as it goes on, and arcs such as the war between Osaka and Kobe and the following revenge of the Bad Girls gang on Takagi have little to no comic relief. Characters like Momochiyo were even noticeably absent during that war.
  • Chekhov's Gag: There's a running gag of the chicks that Takagi raises to cook into friend chicken standing atop him in various scenes. During the battle against the Shinjuku Corps, they keep popping out despite the serious tone of the arc until one actually plays a role by carrying over an energy drink to bring an unconscious Takagi back into action.
    "Well, I'll be damned!! You see, we Osakans tend to make jokes even at important times... But I drank an Alinamin V, so I won't miss this time!"
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • Takagi acts like something of a Cowardly Lion sometimes, avoiding facing too many thugs at once or fighters he knows he would take a ton of damage from and fighting dirty unless he is facing a Worthy Opponent.
    • Yuji accidentally killed a man after stuffing his mouth with shogi pieces and punching him square in the face. He also tosses sand at Takagi's eyes during their fight.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The OVAs adapt some of the early stories and then the invasion from Kobe, but leave several key scenes out. One example is how Morigami is introduced in Kabada's backstory, leaving out how he met Takagi and chose him as his successor in the first place. Morigami's defeat to the Twin Reapers of Kobe is then offscreened and the rematch is abridged, to the point of leaving out the part where he goes berserk and his shared backstory with Jinrai is first mentioned.
  • Darkest Hour: After Takagi is unable to prevent the invasion of Osaka by the Kobe gangs, he returns to find KFTH and all the other local highschools destroyed. He decides to go into hiding until he recovers from his injuries and so the villains start torturing all the Karate Club's members and allies to draw him out.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: The story starts with the karate club freshmen being forced to quickly masturbate as training for whatever reason.
  • Death Glare:
    • When Takagi first met Rikizan the Devil Bear, he wound up a punch but flinched in fear upon getting a good look on his face. Rikizan sneered down at Tagaki and... then dropped on his knees apologizing for the trouble, only further confusing him.
    • Rikizan then first faced defeat upon being overwhelmed by five hundred men who glared back with such intense hatred for his actions that he was paralyzed with regret for how he had lead his life.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Takagi is said to have a fist that draws people to him. Former enemies such as the Pillars of Kobe willingly help him in times of need, stating they don't hold a grudge for their previous defeat.
  • Distant Finale: 16 years after the Saga of Good and Evil, a tougher-looking Matsushita goes to a reunion party with his former classmates and other people who cared for Takagi. They're told by Morigami that Takagi, who's been missing since he was arrested for his part in the final battle, is living somewhere in Africa with Momochiyo and working as a merc to take down criminal organizations in conflict zones.
  • Drop the Hammer: Hiroyuki Tanaka of the Shikoku Alliance wields a large hammer.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Yoshimura "The Fag", the girly-looking mechanics geek who helped Takagi to race Hirayama Keiji.
  • Dumb Muscle: Takagi is the sort of guy who starts bleeding from the nose if he reads anything for more than four minutes. Him being Book Dumb and not getting history or even vocabulary right is a running gag.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The lighthearted early chapters focus on Matsushita and emphasize the ridiculous spartan training of the karate club. Takagi is also portrayed as more of a jerkass whose first training lesson is telling the freshmen to shakedown people. By the time Takagi defeats Jinrai, the tone of the story has shifted so much he has to lean on the fourth wall to remind readers he's supposed to be an Ordinary High-School Student.
    • The first time Takagi is seen in his berserk mode, he laughs like "Gehehehe" instead of "Tralala".
  • Elite Mooks: The Shinjuku Young Bloods members surprise Takagi by not going down in a single like like other generic mooks in the story... not that it matters at all once other antagonists show up to beat them senseless.
  • Eye Scream:
    • Morigami has his right eye damaged and the left one destroyed in his battles against Jinrai.
    • To defeat Hayashi, Shimotori turns ruthless and shoves his fingers inside the guy's eyes, declaring even being branded a criminal for this is worth it for not being humiliated by him ever again.
  • Faking the Dead: Following the battle against the Shinkoku Alliance, Takagi is stabbed by a random thug he was helping and takes the chance to fake his own death so he can be free from all the burden he's accumulated and move on to Tokyo. Only Matsushita, Saito, Momochiyo and Morigami are told the truth and send him off.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Morigami's right side of his face has a slash scar from Jinrai's lightning punch, and Jinrai had the left side of his face burned by acid when he was assaulting Itsuki.
  • Graceful Loser:
    • Takagi tells Morigami the word "defeat" doesn't exist in his dictionary, but after deciding to fight him fairly out of respect and being unable to win that way he simply smiles and remarks he'll add the word "concede" instead.
    • Takagi incapacitates Kira in a single blow, but then extends him a friendly hand. The nearby crowd shouts Kira's name in a gesture of forgiveness, and so he accepts Tagaki as the one Soul of Osaka.
  • Handicapped Badass: Morigami is said to have beaten Jinrai and his many followers in a gruesome battle, but was left with a damaged right eye and this is exploited by the later opponents he faces. To make things worse, Jinrai then destroys his left eye on their next battle.
  • Heroic BSoD: When Takagi learns his former master Jinrai has become evil, he loses all willpower and leaves with Momochiyo to Kobe. The Three Pillars of Kobe ambush and rough Takagi up for a bit before taking him to their master Liu-yun, who inspires him to fight and teaches the powerful techniques of Tai Chi Chuan.
  • His Name Is...: Rikizan gets stomped by Kira when he's warning Takagi about the Red Lightning of Shikoku, which actually makes it clear to Takagi that the Red Lightning is former Soul of Osaka Jinrai and that Kira, Jinrai's best pupil, is really The Mole.
  • Hope Bringer: Takagi commands the respect of all delinquents in Osaka with his dedication for the city, which is something the more agressive Soul of Osaka candidate Kira couldn't understand.
  • Important Haircut: Morigami has his hair shaved into the same star shape as Jinrai's out of admiration and later had Takagi get the same hairstyle as well to mark him as a fellow Soul of Osaka.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: Both Jinrai and Kira grew obsessed with power and control as they felt inferior to the more approachable Morigami and Takagi. Morigami willingly working as a subordinate, hoping Itsuki to fall for Jinrai despite also loving her and showing mercy to Jinrai even after he raped Itsuki only worsened that complex.
  • Insane Troll Logic: As the Karate Club is threatened by the school's student counsellor, Gantetsu forces Takagi to crossdress "until he graduates" so that the other gangsters won't pick up trouble with him.
  • Just Shoot Him: When first facing the four most powerful Tokyo gang leaders, Takagi tries to convince them to fight him one-on-one. David gladly accepts, saying he can finish Takagi off in a mere 30 seconds. Takagi prepares a Fa jin... but David whips out a Jericho 941 and ruthlessly shoots him down.
  • Ki Attacks: From Jinrai's arc on, the most powerful characters are Tai chi practicioners who can use Fa jin to deflect attacks and release explosive bursts of energy. While Jinrai is only able to emulate the technique with his strength, Takagi ends up performing the original version of it that's designed for killing and is urged by Liu-yun to not use it.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Jinrai raped Itsuki upon realizing she and Morigami loved each other but Morigami still wanted him to have her. He's later confused by her behaving as if she wants him to prove himself despite her hatred, and then finds some cruel amusement in her being tied to him for conceiving a Child by Rape.
    • The Shinjuku Corps set a record on scumbaggery when they go on a "fox hunt", rampaging around Tokyo to murder the families and friends of their targets.
    • Boku Majima nearly kills Retsu and then stabs his little sister too for witnessing the crime — an act that terrifies even Sayuri, who had hired him for revenge. Takagi is so outraged that he disregards his code of honor and attempts to kill both of them in return.
    • David Furuta killing his enemies with a Jericho 941 gun in this kind of story and under Japan's gun control laws paints him as extremely dishonorable. He and his allies then dump Takagi on a junkyard known as the Graveyard of Dreams and then destroy West Shinjuku Academy.
  • Lawful Stupid: The Student Council President of Kangokou High tries to end the Karate Club for encouraging violence, and she forbids them to fight even as they are beaten by thugs who are holding her hostage. The conflict only ends when she turns a blind eye to let Takagi save her.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Kabada was only trusted with the role of vice captain by his hero Morigami for his strong dedication to the Karate Club. He is a cowardly and weak bully, but when a rival school tries burning the uniform gifted to him by Morigami, he's enraged and is able to lead the Karate Club to success.
  • The Lost Lenore: Yuuko, the first leader of the Bad Girls who got kidnapped and raped by thugs just for being Takagi's girlfriend and ended up run over by a car while in shock. Her successor Megumi also dies in the exact same way after Takagi was starting to warm up to her.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Takagi becomes so distraught to learn that his mentor and brother figure Jinrai is leading the Shikoku forces that he can't help but roll up on a blanket like a kid.
  • Made of Iron: Takagi and most of the other fighters in the story can handle a ridiculous amount of punishment. Even Matsushita is a Iron Butt Monkey and ultimately no one except for very minor background characters ever dies.
  • Meaningful Name: Raiden Taro, the captain of the Sumida Corps. He's named after a god of thunder and wields a pair of taser gloves.
  • My Greatest Failure: Takagi deeply regrets how Yuuko and Megumi were raped and killed as a result of his involvement in gang violence, to the point that when Megumi's sister Asuka brutally lashes out at him and the other delinquents in revenge, even injuring Momochiyo in the process, he doesn't hold it against her and makes a point to not let anyone harm the Bad Girls until he can convince her to stop with words alone.
  • No Badass to His Valet: Even Takagi owes respect to his own upperclassmen, though he will lash out and beat some of them if they prove too irritating. Out of them, the one who he truly respects is the Second Soul of Osaka, Morigami.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
    • Matsushita and Saito are beaten up at various points for trying to do the right thing, requiring Takagi to show up and save their asses.
    • After defeating Jinrai and saving Osaka, Takagi is expelled from school and is made the subject of various rumors as people begin attacking him for fame and glory more than ever before. He takes pity on some thugs he walloped just to end up stabbed in the gut as he was taking the last one home, which at least gives him the chance to fake his own death and try to start anew in Tokyo.
  • No-Sell: Rick Powered is able to prevent damage from nearly any attack by concentrating and flexing his muscles. Takagi manages to put an end to that by leaving them both hanging by the side of a high cliff, making Rick too scared to fight properly.
  • Non-Nazi Swastika: One of the KFTH Karate Club members is nicknamed Manji because his hair is shaved in that shape. Takagi is also seen wearing a mask with a manji mark at some points.
  • Pintsized Powerhouse: Tetsuya Sotogawa is shorter than the other best Osaka fighters, but he's as muscular as the others and is an expert grappler. Ironically, it's the massive Rikizan that takes on him during the tournament for the Soul of Osaka.
  • Power-Up Food: Alinamin V energy drinks. Takagi is first fed one by his pet chick and afterwards he stocks up on them like it's an RPG game.
  • Precious Puppy: Matsushita once adopts a dog left inside a box on a river... who naturally contracts leptospirosis and dies by the end of chapter after escaping from a health center to reunite with him.
  • Progressively Prettier: Tatsuya Sakamoto undergoes this after being beaten by Takagi and turning over a new leaf, as he gains a full set of teeth and becomes a lot less exaggeratedly ugly in general to the point where he's almost unrecognizable. Other people still remark on how scary his face is though.
  • Put on a Bus: Takagi moving to Tokyo results in the entire cast of supporting characters being replaced for some time.
  • Rape Is a Special Kind of Evil: The most despicable villains in the story rape their female victims. In particular, Jinrai completely turns to madness when he rapes Itsuki after finding she was in love with Morigami, who becomes outraged and attempts to fight him to the death. Later, Jinrai even finds a certain enjoyent in learning that Itsuki conceived a child from that encounter.
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Downplayed with Sagawa's Four-hit Thrust, which Takagi improves into a five-hit combo.
  • Remember the New Guy?:
    • It is eventually revealed Takagi was requested to make Megumi disband the Bad Girls by her sister Asuka, who was a friend of Yuuko who blamed Takagi for her death.
    • Chapter 102 introduces a group of the most powerful brawlers in Osaka. Among them, Kira challenges Takagi for the position of Soul of Osaka, criticizing his behaviour during the war with Kobe in which most of them didn't do anything of note either due to not yet existing in the story.
  • Revenge by Proxy:
    • Takagi's former classmate Yuji starts brutally beating down the Karate Club members after stuffing their mouths with Shogi pieces because he was previously arrested for accidentally killing someone while saving Takagi during a school brawl.
    • Asuka and the Bad Girls gang try to destroy all the gangs in Osaka to avenge Yuuko and Megumi who were murdered because of their connection to Takagi.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge:
    • After Megumi is raped and dies in a traffic accident, Takagi beats the perpetrator half-dead and crushes him under a motorcycle with cold-blooded efficiency.
    • After Momochiyo is heavily injured from falling down a flight of stairs while trying to escape from Ootsuka and his goons, Takagi takes her to a hospital while only leaving Ootsuka a threat. He then begs Andou to let him take his place on the upcoming boxing championship, not to simply beat Ootsuka but to leave him crippled from a broken jaw on live television.
    • Takagi becomes outraged at Boku's apparent assassination of Retsu and his sister and calls for a Fox Hunt to drag him out. He completely discards his honor code, almost killing Sayuri for hiring Boku and then tossing the assassin off a building fully intending to kill him.
  • Running Gag:
    • On chapter 3, Takagi purchases and protects a handful of chicks... just to fry and eat them some time later. Since then, chicks standing over his head and shoulder are a recurring visual gag.
    • Takagi going "Tralala" when panicking or going berserk starts from chapter 12 onwards.
    • Momochiyo breaking windows and ears with her loud crying, which is even her super move in the Super Famicom fighting game.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Takagi discovers that at least two of the Shadow Five are masked women after accidentally groping one of them.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Rumors say Morigami fought Jinrai and his men in a great battle where he displayed his true murderous nature to earn the title of Soul of Osaka, but their backstory shows Morigami lost badly and Jinrai's followers were actually curb stomped for immediately turning on him for his cruel actions.
  • Shout-Out:
    • To fight the Cheering Squad of West Shinjuku, Yamamoto is taught to channel Rikiishi Toru of Tomorrow's Joe and perform a deadly Razor Uppercut counter.
    • The cover for chapter 198 has Takagi wearing a hair bow and riding a broom like he's Kiki.
  • Smoking Is Cool: Takagi and some other underage delinquents are occasionally shown smoking.
  • The Smurfette Principle: The Kangokou High Karate Club has Momochiyo as the only female fighter, and the West Shinjuku Academy Karate Club only has Marimo.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Various sources spell the series' title as either "Karatebu", "Karate Bu" or even "Karate-bu".
  • Spirit Advisor: The heavily injured Morigami appears as a spirit to Takagi, begging him to not simply defeat Jinrai in his stead, but to somehow restore him to the good-natured man he once knew. After Morigami fades away, Takagi receives the news his condition actually has stabilized.
  • Stay in the Kitchen:
    • Takagi is at first upset to have the girly Momochiyo managing and training under the sausagefest that's the Karate Club, but he also gives her genuinely good self-defense lessons anytime she's in trouble, with a gentleness and patience he usually doesn't show to anyone else.
    • By Asuka's request, Takagi demands Megumi disbands the Bad Girls gang out of worry for their safety, and right afterwards she is killed for helping him escape from an enemy gang.
    • After defeating the female Shadow Five members with only intimidation tactics (tossing large steel beams near them), Takagi quips that they should live like women and leave the fighting to the men.
  • There Can Be Only One: Because of Takagi hiding away during the war against Kobe until he recovered, the other strongest brawlers in Osaka start a ruckus fighting amonsgt themselves to take his place as the Soul of Osaka.
  • Title Drop: When Takagi establishes a new Karate Club at West Shinjuku Academy, he sets a "Go!! Karate Club" signpost by the door.
  • Use Your Head: Takagi defeats Tofukuji with a chain of headbutts after luring him into close range.
  • We Used to Be Friends:
    • Takagi and Kira were both students of Jinrai since their childhood, but Kira grew intensely resentful of how people only seemed to appreciate Takagi no matter what he did.
    • Morigami and Jinrai likewise were friends, but Jinrai grew obsessed and overly violent when Itsuki told him she liked all-powerful men. He began resenting Morigami's kindness and was driven to madness when it turned out Itsuki and Morigami had feelings for each other.
  • The Worf Barrage: Despite how powerful the Fa jin is, Takagi either just bloodily grazes people with it, unconsciously holds it back or straight up misses it 99% of the time except for the final blow on arc villains.
  • The Worf Effect: During the Kobe war, all the previous main antagonists in the story and Morigami get their asses handed to them by Jinrai and his Four Devils.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Katsuhiro obeyed Sayuri because he was in love with her, but he hated her brutal rule over Shibuya and didn't hesitate to deck her in the face once he saw how he meant nothing to her. After Katsuhiro is defeated, she tries to run Takagi over with her minions but they refuse to dishonor the conflict any longer. Retsu finishes Sayuri's deposal by blasting her several feet away with another punch to the face.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl:
    • Takagi threatens to destroy Asuka if she doesn't listen to reason and stop her revenge attempt on the gangs of Osaka, but no matter how much she injures him he only half-heartedly gestures a punch at her direction while crying for her plight. He then tells Morigami there's nothing in his fists that could harm a woman.
    • It's subverted, however, when Sayuri nearly gets Retsu and his sister murdered by Boku. Takagi slams her against a wall when he finds out and nearly punches her head off despite her begging for forgiveness, barely missing when a doctor barges in declaring the siblings are still hanging on and Sayuri volunteers to donate blood to them. Upon calming down and noticing how regretful she is, Takagi apologizes for treating her so harshly.
  • Younger Than They Look: Most of the male highschoolers in the story look far older than they actually are.

Alternative Title(s): Osu Karate Bu


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