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Manga / Sun-Ken Rock

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"If a Nation is a Gang, a Gang should be able to become a Nation. I want to establish a Nation of a certain class. Hey, let's build a country of our own. Ken."

"I don't force anyone to follow me. I fight for what I believe in, and to protect those who need my help! I force nobody to fight beside me. Everyone's free to their own opinions! And I fight beside only those who share mine! But I help all those who ask me, and I ask for nothing in return!"

After his parents' death when he was 13, Ken lost everything. He became embroiled in a world of violence, constantly fighting one group of thugs after another. Then he met Yumin, the only person left in his life that he cared for. When Ken finally confessed his love, Yumin turned him down with the reason that she plans on moving to Korea and becoming a police officer. Ken decides to drop out of high school, and flies to Korea in order to become an officer himself. Unsurprisingly, as a high school dropout he doesn't get the job and ends up slumming it in Korea.

One day, after helping out an old store owner getting extorted from a local gang, Ken is then made the boss of a small gang by a man named Tae-Soo. Ken now finds himself fighting local gang bosses, protecting the ones he cares for and making sure Yumin never finds out, otherwise he'll lose the girl he loves and get arrested.

Sun-Ken Rock's South Korean author and artist Boichi, aka Mujik Park, holds the distinction of being one of the few foreign mangaka in Japan. Boichi's other manga, including Wallman, H•E the Hunt for Energy, Space Chef Caisar, and the upcoming The Origin, all take place in the same verse. The manga ran in the seinen magazine Young King from 2006 to 2016, and can be read here in English at Crunchyroll Manga. The other manga connected to Sun-Ken Rock have been scanlated with Boichi's blessing by Japanzai and are available to read for free on his official site and Japanzai's reader. Japanzai also officially scanlated the three Sun-Ken Rock spinoffs:

  • Sun-Ken Rock Gaiden – Pickaxe Calamity, a NSFW sci-fi fanservice comic focusing on Pickaxe, who gets his hands on some Power Armor and becomes the "Dango Knight", before he joins Tae-Soo and Marin.
  • Sun-Ken Rock Gaiden - Yumin, yet another NSFW fanservice sidestory focusing on Yumin going on an undercover police job
  • I Want Feed Yumin, a shojo styled, somewhat suggestive yet SFW series of sidestories concentrating on a character that could very easily be replaced by the reader taking Yumin out on dates to various Korean restaurants. Much attention is paid to ridiculously detailed descriptions of Korean Food Porn and how freakin' cute Yumin is.
  • Wallman is set in a similar time-frame. There's a cameo of Ken at the end of the story.
  • Origin is set years after this story, in a Cyberpunk setting. An elderly Ken makes a brief appearance towards the end to provide resources to the protagonist.

Has a Character Sheet that is in desperate need of love.

Contains examples of:

  • Ambition Is Evil: Many of the characters we see have ambitions beyond just being cruel sadists, but in striving for their goals of wealth and power, they often become just that, IF they already weren't like that to being with.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: When the leader of the White Dragon Clan is finally cornered by Ken, he asks him what drove him to this confrontation. Ken replies that despite any morally questionable actions he may have done on his way, he honestly wants to protect the good, helpless people because he understands their plight. The problem comes when the man then asks his daughter why she came to destroy his empire and kill him. In a twist of Diabolus ex Machina proportions, Yumin realizes she wants to take over the White Dragon Clan and blasts Ken out of the building.
  • Art Evolution: The art in the beginning volumes was pretty good to start with, but became incredibly polished as time went on.
  • Art Shift: The comedy sections almost seem like they come from a different manga when compared to the rest of the manga.
  • Author Appeal: Boichi seems to love writing dramedy; there are some notorious Mood Whiplashes to be seen here, with extremely dramatic events followed by wacky humor (and vice-versa).
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: Pickaxe and Benito in chapter 96, in a rare moment of awesome. Yumin, Ken, and Ban-Phoung at the end of the Korean Gang Saga.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: When Ken puts on his suit, it means serious business and almost always serious ass-kickings.
  • Bathos: This is part of the appeal of the entire manga. It's a story with an innocent and silly premise (Ken moving to Korea to pursue a girl) that often times quite suddenly takes a dramatic and tragic turn because of Ken's role as the leader of a gang, bent on creating a shadow nation within Korea. The dissonance between Ken in his ordinary life and how he is as a leader is mined more for comedy than it is for drama. Not to mention, the Sun-Ken group's wacky personalities becoming dead-serious when it's time to get dangerous.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Played straight with the corrupt and cruel politicians and gangsters. Interestingly, characters also become uglier when their personalities get nasty.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted hardcore with what physically happens to Miss Yoo, but ultimately played with, as part of what Ken teaches Miss Yoo is that no one can defile another human being, and therefore she should never consider herself as defiled/tarnished.
  • Becoming the Mask: After the Idol group arc, both Yumi and Ken's friend in the cram house both comment on how he's changed/become more serious. Noticeably, Ken is hardly ever drawn in his less detailed, more comedic version after.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: According to Yumin, Ken's thing is huge.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Ken establishes himself as the strongest warrior and pretty much takes over the world, but learns to kill and is betrayed by the woman he loved. He climbs his way back and spares Yumin, but grows bitter as he's forced to become personally involved in the dark criminal matters Tae-Soo wanted him out of and eventually retires. Benito becomes the new Don Prego and "cleans" his act, Ken funds several companies for the betterment of the world through technology, which are seen in "H-E the Hunt for Energy", and Origin. The Wallmen end is ambiguous after they take down Yumin's empire, and Do-Heun Chang and Kae-lyn end up killed at the final raid a few years before.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: The Sun-Ken group, while they are far more altruistic in their operations, are essentially running corrupt businesses and illegal sex shops. That said, the way they treat the people who work at these businesses is still LEAGUES better than what another gang would do.
    • For Ken specifically, as his goal is to just help people, the grayness of his gang's work comes back to haunt him later on in the story when he starts looking at the group's impact.
  • Bland-Name Product: A movie Ken watches at the theater was apparently produced by Boniversal Studios, who have the same logo as real-life Universal Studios,
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: Happened to Tae-Soo's father.
  • Brick Joke: The Boar when you least expect it.
  • The Cape: Ken.
  • Cast of Snowflakes: Due to the detailed art style, all the male characters have unique features.
  • The Chessmaster: Tae-Soo and Yumin's father.
  • Continuity Nod: Go Ju-Mon says that maybe one day his cousin will reach space through one of his descendants. The character shadow next to him gives away that that one will be Caisar, a character from another of Boichi's works: Space Chef Caisar, the chef known as the best in the world goes on journey through space to cook the greatest recipes and kick ass.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Oh Dal-Soo.
  • Crapsack World: Gangs, politicians, and businessmen are all essentially the same and work together in order to obtain and maintain power, often on the backs of those too weak or too marginalized to oppose their own exploitation. While dramatized, this isn't that far from the truth.
  • Criminal Doppelgänger: Rain is compared to Ken In the final battle between them, he uses this as part of his Breaking Speech in Yumin fell in love with him. Indeed, Ken looks like him when he has his hair down, or has a beard.
  • Crucified Hero Shot:
    • After getting attacked by Ban Phoung, Tae-Soo falls and collapses on his back with his arms spread-eagle. Also later on when it's revealed that he has made himself the boss in order to spare Ken and the rest of the gang.
    • Ban Phoung strikes this pose when he's shot to death. Ken follows suit when Yumin betrays him and blasts him off a skyscraper.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Ken is adapt at handing these out to whoever happens to be unlucky enough to be his opponent, though he has been on the end of a few of them himself.
  • Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster!
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Most characters have them.
  • Darkest Hour: The unmasking and fall of the Sun-Ken Rock group due to reporter investigations and the White Dragon Clan's machinations.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Ken employs many of his past opponents into his gang, knowing they were good people who happened to work for his enemies. This is, however, completely averted in his stand against the White Dragon Clan. He and his allies kill everyone they can, with Ken later stating he finds them unredeemable. This dark turn of events highlighted when Ken seemingly kills a guy who was a misguided fool manipulated by a false friend... until it turns out Ken did spare him after all.
  • Deliberately Triggering the Trap: Tae-soo intentionally provokes Jang Yunchang to get him to send his henchmen to follow him so Marin can go find out their base of operations. Jang figures this out and sends them anyways, however also getting Ban Phuong to go and kill Tae-Soo.
  • Designated Girl Fight:
    • Kae-Lyn and a Russian woman in chapter 96, much to their chagrin. They become unable to hurt each other due to sympathy upon realizing they both were trying to seduce their respective leaders, so they just rip each other's clothes off.
    • Subverted when the White Dragon Clan hitwomen are involved. Ken is forced to fight them the first time, and they're all gruesomely killed.
  • Diabolical Mastermind: Yumin's father.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Ken does build a relationship with Yumin, and they have sex and all, but then she goes and betrays him to take over the White Dragon Clan. While climbing his way back to the top, Ken ensures that Yumin's life is spared at the slightest sign of redemption and eventually gives her all he owns anyway, but he only does so through others, never confronting and reconciling with her.
  • The Don: Don Prego, Benito's boss, and Yumin's father.
  • Don't Tell Mama: Played for comedic and dramatic effect as Ken tries to keep his role as one of the most powerful gang leaders in Korea a secret from his love interest, Yumi, who is a police officer working in the gang violence division. She also hates gangs because as the daughter to Japan's most powerful yakuza group, she lost her sister and mother to gang warfare.
  • The Dragon: Rain, to Yumin's father.
  • Dragon with an Agenda: Tae-Soo.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Ken is respected by his closest peers, but when his reign spreads to greater schemes like casinos and record labels, people in those sects don't pay their respects, mostly because Ken likes to keep a low profile and doesn't like to be worshiped. Still, many are quick to treat him like a hobo or a petty criminal, because someone as "dull" as him can't be the boss, posing around dressed in Armani and driving imported cars. This also makes it easier for him to get away when the police try to arrest the rest of his gang after Tae-Soo turns himself in.
  • Easily Forgiven: Yan Taeshin who Ken works together with as managers of an idol group. He has no issues sleeping with every recruitee and pimping them out to his executive friends and only begins to feel any remorse once he goes against Ken's wishes and gives the girls Ken is managing the same treatment. While this sets Ken off on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge in his pursuit of justice for the girls, it's never directed at him and Ken forgives Yan, allowing him to continue as a manager after the Sun-Ken group acquires the agency because Ken believes Yan truly cares for the work.
  • Expy: Ken is Vash The Stampede as a mafioso, he even shares his idealism, it's an interesting case, as both Boichi and Yasuhiro Nightow are friends, and Boichi drew Trigun: The Lost Plant, a one shot set 6 years after the ending of the original manga.
  • Fanservice: You want breast and ass shots, you're gonna get 'em.
  • Food Porn: The author can go on complete tangents describing in incredible detail the food that the characters eat during the story. Describing the preparation of the ingredients, carefully detailing how it's all cooked while detailing how the various sauces and juices add to the taste and texture of the dish, finishing off by describing the delicious taste of the meal...
  • Good All Along: Ban-Phoung had always admired Ken and was trying to protect him from the White Dragon Clan.
  • Gratuitous Rape: Attempted rapes are used as a cheap way to give Ken and friends a reason to deck some asshole in the face once or twice per arc. Ken at one point is even exasperated that he can't seem to make a turn without having to kick some creep off a defenseless woman.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Tae-Soo makes himself the bait to find Ban-Phoung's hideout. Thankfully he makes it.
  • Hidden Depths: Ken starts out as an employed high school dropout that spent a year in Korea in a shoddy apartment. As the series goes on, he proves himself to be a man that sticks by his ideals and is willing to do anything to help those he wants to protect.
  • I Let You Win: When Ken and Kim-Ga In first for the first time, Ken loses and ends up with a sore neck, When they fight in a rematch, is pretty obvious Ken was holding back and testing him.
  • Informed Attractiveness: When we first see Kae-Lyn, she looks like a gyaru, and despite her body, her makeup make her a case of Butter Face, when she is only tanned she actually looks very cute.
  • Karma Houdini: Yan Taeshin, the manager Ken works with when he briefly works at an idol agency. See Easily Forgiven.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Real-estate business is some serious shit in this manga.
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: The Yakuza, whose connections are so great they could bring down the Sun-Ken Rock gang by instigating the President of Korea into investigating their corporations.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Let's see, for starters, Ban-Phoung in his first appearance was based on Tony Jaa. Then on the Casino arc, we have one of the director's hitmen is a carbon copy of the great Charles Bronson. And in Wallman, the two male protagonists are dead ringers of George Clooney and Danny Devito.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You…: Tae-Soo pushes Ken off a cliff so he wouldn't get arrested by the policemen after him. This only knocks Ken out for a few hours. Then he gets blasted out of a window by Yumin and has a long fall into the sea, but survives his injuries.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Basically everything that Tae-Soo does.
  • Oh, Crap!: This goes through the mind of a lot of thugs when Ken finally gets serious or pissed, which ever happens first. It also happens when people end up out gambitted by Tae-Soo.
  • Only One Female Mold: All of the women look exactly the same.
  • Out-Gambitted: Most of the Sun-Ken Rock Gang's enemies. And them by the Yakuza.
  • The Promise: Ken made a one with Yumin in the form of a Pinky Swear.
  • Protagonist Journey To Anti-Villain: Initially, Ken is okay with having a small gang that can pass as posers thinking way too big. As time goes on, Ken's influence actually creates a parallel state, he becomes a criminal big shot by owning corrupt Casinos, idol agencies and real estate companies. That's the point where where Ken starts doubting himself, being noticeably careless about rivals trying to destroy or seize his empire, as he thinks it could be for the best.
  • Rape as Drama: Ken doesn't always manage to save the many women under threat of rape that he encounters, which leads to this trope.
    • Miss Yoo was brutally gang-raped and sexually abused by the Garugi after she was kidnapped by them.
    • Chapter 65 to the idols under Ken's care.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: The final arc of the series would be the end result of Ken's journey to avenge his dead parents, taking on the Yakuza syndicate that ruined his life prior the series' beginning; it starts in a very serious and committed tone, to the point it shows Ken and his companions outright killing some of the goons, whereas before they never took a single life, settling Ken was all-in for the revenge path. However, the final chapters follows with a string of twists and turns, with someone Ken loved very much turning on him, and he basically purges all feelings of revenge he ever had, wanting to quit a live of violence altogether. The sudden turn of events turned out to be on purpose, Boichi says it in the final volume's extras that the France, Paris 2015 terrorist attacks in which one of the fallen victim's family open letter about refusing to let hatred and revenge consume his heart touched Boichi deeply, to the point he reconsidered Sun-Ken Rock being a series where revenge is the end goal.
  • Scenery Porn: The manga often devotes entire spreads to luscious and intricately-drawn backgrounds.
  • Sexual Extortion: The Idol Agency is basically built on this.
  • Smug Snake: Most of the Sun-Ken Rock Gang's enemies.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil
  • The Syndicate
  • Take Over the World: The Yakuza's plan.
  • Talk to the Fist: Ken punches through an opponent's Dark and Troubled Past in chapter 95.
  • Title Drop: A quote from chapter 23 explains the meaning.
    "Ken, you're warm like the sun... a strong person as solid as a rock!"
  • Training from Hell: The Sun-Ken team go through months of this once they start training at Mount Juri and emphasis on hell. Their training would make a veteran Navy SEAL wish he was back in hell week.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Oh Dal-Soo and his son.
  • Yakuza: Yumin's father runs this.
  • Young Conqueror: Tae-Soo aims to shape Ken into one.