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Manga / The Law of Ueki

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The Law of Ueki is a manga series created by Tsubasa Fukuchi, which originally ran from 2001 to 2004 in Weekly Shonen Sunday. The story basically starts out when Ai Mori thinks that her classmate, Kousuke Ueki, is an alien. Not quite, but he does have the power to turn trash into trees and control them. This power was given to him by their teacher, a God Candidate involved in the Battle of the Supernatural Powers, a tournament to decide who will be the next god of Heaven.

Each God Candidate — a hundred in total — is required to choose a junior high school student to act as their fighter for some unspecified reason. Each candidate then bestows their chosen student with a certain power. Of course, every given power ranges from weird, near useless, potentially self-hazardous, to Awesome, but Impractical. The winning God Candidate will become the new boss of Heaven and the winning student will receive the Blank Zai (or talent), a talent that can be anything they choose.

Naturally, this leads many students to thoughts of greed and selfishness. Being The Hero, Ueki decides to take it upon himself to win this tournament to keep that power away from those that would abuse such a gift, fighting for justice with Mori Ai in tow. Along the way they meet not one, but two creepy major enemies, gather a loyal group of True Companions, stumble upon some sort of ancient heavenly conspiracy, and indirectly promote recycling and environmentalism (uh, well, sort of).

The manga was adapted into an anime, which aired for 51 episodes from 2005 to 2006. It also had a sequel, The Law of Ueki Plus (or The Law of Ueki+'"), which ran in Shonen Sunday'' from 2005 to 2007. Ueki and friends appear in the Massive Multiplayer Crossover game, Sunday VS Magazine: Shuuketsu! Choujou Daikessen.

The Law of Ueki provides examples of:

  • Ain't No Rule: Part of a Batman Gambit by the current King. He deliberately set up the rules so they did not specifically ban Celestial or Infernal children being chosen to fight, knowing that this would cause some of the King Candidates to think they were getting away with something by inserting "ringer" champions. It didn't turn out quite as well as the King hoped.
  • Arm Cannon: The Kurogane, the 1-star Sacred Weapon, is a giant cannon strapped to the arm.
  • Art Evolution: While the art style of the manga may appear a bit strange throughout, there is a very noticeable improvement from the style in the first chapter to that of the later chapters.
  • Asshole Victim: The townspeople from Robert's past treated him like dirt until he snapped one day and destroy part of the town. Let's just say that those assholes deserved it, especially the director of the orphanage Robert stayed.
  • Auto-Doc: Heavenly Beasts release a healing machine which fully restores anyone inside it for exactly 12 hours. However, if the healing process is interrupted in any way and the machine is damaged, the person inside it will die.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Some powers and a lot of the Zai Ueki seems to get. Cheering Zai, anyone?
    • Ueki's Gulliver. Used successfully exactly once. He seems to be aware of this fact and uses it to figure out his opponent's power.
    • Mori's power is basically completely unstoppable once it activates, but its limiting condition is downright absurd. She mopped the floor with both of the enemies she tried it on... but it doesn't work unless the enemy is in a certain pose. 90% of the enemies in the series wouldn't be caught dead in that pose.
  • Awesome by Analysis: Once Ueki figures out your power, you've lost. Same goes Sano. Although the fact that most of the power-users are stupid enough to tell their opponent about their power (right up to their limitations) didn't helped much.
  • Awesomeness Is a Force: Maoh / Arch-Enemy, the 10-star Sacred Weapon. It takes up the form and power of its user's will. It can only be used six times in a lifetime, though.
  • Badass Teacher: Just because Kobayashi is against violence doesn't mean it's a good idea to pick on his students.
    • Inumaru also lampshades it at one point, surprised that someone so conniving but loves justice so much went into teaching junior high school.
  • Bag of Spilling: Between Law of Ueki and the short five volume manga sequel Law of Ueki Plus. Justified, as if Ueki uses any of his old special abilities it would result in the loss of his Zai and he would die, because the tournament is over and therefore nobody is a combatant now.
    • The strange part is that 9 of his 12 powers were weapons, and one is a Cancelator, but he has also some Jet Skates, and a pair of wings. Also, he could try to use his powers in a way that wouldn't harm anybody.
  • Badass Normal: Mori, since her power is pretty much useless and has only been used twice in the whole story. It's justified that her limitations is ridiculous (goody-two-shoe pose, anyone?). But when she fought in Dogura Mansion, it has been shown that she had fought to a tie with Kabara, who's an assassin to boot.
    • Moreso: Li Ho, who never ever uses his ability.
  • Berserk Button: It's not a very good idea to insult Rinko.
  • Berserker Tears: Marilyn, after Ueki exposes her Dark and Troubled Past.
  • BFS: The Ranma, the 3-star Sacred Weapon, is a big ass sword stuck to the user's arm.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Implied by Sano. During one of Mori's matches he yells at her that her opponent is going to rape her. She doesn't take it well.
  • Blessed with Suck: a lot of the powers have rather detrimental parameters for them to work (one has to hold one's breath, keep hands in pockets, hold hands, give up a year of life per usage...)
  • Blind Without 'Em: Averted by Mori, who only needs her glasses to read.
  • Blow You Away: B.J. Celestial Power is to turn coins into whirlwinds.
  • Blue with Shock: The entirety of Team Ueki experience this when Rinko snaps during her match.
  • Booby Trap: The Gulliver, the 7-star Sacred Weapon, is a box that appears from the ground to capture the user's opponent in 0.5 seconds. Any attacks directed at the walls while inside will be deflected. It can be destroyed with other Sacred Weapons, however.
  • Boss Subtitles: For every opponent.
  • Bowdlerise: In the original Japanese version, the tournament is created by God (神様 Kami-sama), and pits 100 God candidates against each other in order to determine his successor. The English translation changes all mentions of "God" to simply "King of the Celestial World" or just "King", eg. "King candidates" instead of "God candidates".
  • But Not Too Foreign: Rinko is implied to be half-Japanese.
  • Butt-Monkey: the creator said so himself that Inumaru exists to be bullied by Kobayashi. Although subverted nicely in the end, when the kids decide to name him as the next god.
  • Calling Your Attacks: Ditto for nearly every power user in the series. Usually in the form of:
    Power User: The power to turn <thing> into <another thing>!!
  • Cape Wings: Kabara's ability is to turn his cape into wings.
  • Chekhov's Gun: After winning the Blank Zai, Ueki wrote the Talent of Reunion on it. This become handy in the sequel series as Ueki is the only person not affected by the memory loss.
  • Chew Toy: Ueki gets into a lot of situations that end up with him getting hurt in some way. Mori Ai even notes that this happened to Ueki even before the tournament started. Although most of those were the fault of Ueki's brashness, a lot of random events also seemed to be detrimental to him. It is later explained that this was due to the loss of a good luck zai of some sort.
  • Creepy Child: Robert and Anon, both of who mostly talk in Creepy Monotone.
  • Determinator: Ueki. In fact one of his opponents is defeated by his determination.
  • Didn't Think This Through: During the battle with Maruo Taira, Ai manages to protect Ueki by jumping in front of Taira's fireball and get him to change its trajectory. She smugly tells him he won't dare risk losing one of his talents and attack her with his power. Taira simply walks over and smacks her to the side. The rules state that fighters can't harm non-participants with their celestial power or they will lose talents; there is nothing keeping them from using other mundane methods if they so choose. Taira calls her a moron for not working that one out.
  • Discard and Draw: Ueki loses all his abilities at the end of the manga. In the sequel he gains a new power: The power of "grabbing" in the form of "a mop".
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The punishment for a god candidate helping their junior high school student in a battle is to be put on celestial death row. Even if they only do it to save a kid's life.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Margaret, Anon, Kapucho, and Barrow.
  • Artistic License - Chemistry: Real iron isn't nearly as strong as the iron that Sano can turn towels into.
  • Evil Chef: Marco Maldini, who can change tomatoes into magma. He is also very angry if you waste his soup.
  • Exactly What I Aimed At: Sano especially loves this tactics.
  • Exposition: outrageous amounts.
  • Fetish: Mori's power gives her opponent a HUGE eyeglasses fetish...And then there's Kill Norton, who glued his glasses to his head. Granted, it was in case he got paired up with Mori so he could have a way to counter her power, but still... Also, his glasses are named Bianca. Later, he asks Mori to make him an eyeglasses lover again, so he can work up the nerve to go help his teammates fight Anon. The last time we see him, in the epilogue, he's muttering "Glasses... glasses... glasses..."
  • For the Evulz: Anon helps humans then proceeds to harm them immediately afterward just to find out what kind of reaction he will get (like rescuing a boy's puppy and trying to throw that puppy to an electric pole).
  • Freerange Children: The contestants are mostly teenagers. Their parents have no concerns about them roaming all over the country and fighting each other with potentially fatal outcome.
  • Funny Afro:
    • Ueki temporarily gains one along with a Disco Zai ("talent to dress stylishly" in English). Apparently, Ueki was following the good ol' Saturday Night Fever style. He was immediately beaten up by Mori.
    • And one celestial beast wears one near the end, and immediately gets a lampshade hung on it.
  • Gag Dub: Downplayed. Even if it's mostly limited to Ueki's lines, the Spanish dub has a good dose of national puns, lingo expressions and pop culture references which clearly weren't in the original.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Margaret is a girl's name, and Margaret looks female, but Margaret is definitely not a woman.
    • An early volume of the Viz translation actually said he was a woman in the character profiles at the beginning.
  • The Generic Guy: Or girl. Mori (at least initially, before she gets Blessed with Suck)
  • Godhood Seeker: The goal of each Celestial Candidate is this.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: During Ueki's fight against Li Ho, Ueki briefly stole Li Ho's hat, puts it on, and briefly says "Hello!" in Chinese (你好!/ Nǐ hǎo!).
  • Green Thumb: Ueki's power is to turn trash into trees.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: The premise of the whole show.
  • Hannibal Lecture: Some of the less friendly God Candidates and team leaders are prone to these- and not just at the heroes.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Rinko, who loved Robert. Although, she does get out of it soon after meeting Ueki, joining his group.
  • Hungry Weapon: Mash, the 4-star Sacred Weapon, is a giant block with "eyes" and mouth that chomps the opponent to unconsciousness.
  • Hyperspace Arsenal: Celestials have the Sacred Weapons.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: All of the anime's episode titles end with 「の法則」 in Japanese. In English, almost all of them begin with "The Law of...", translated from the Japanese.
  • Idiot Hair: Many characters. Some have 2.
  • Idiot Hero: while Ueki does have several brilliant insights, especially in battle, for the most part he seems rather simple-minded and clueless. On first meeting Tenko's gigantic dog-like form he thinks it's just a really big chicken of all things.
    • This is actually Justified early on in the series, when Ueki loses his Study Zai ("talent to study") for attacking a non-combatant before the tournament begins.
  • Important Haircut: Rinko's pigtails getting chopped off while protecting Ueki who is in healing process.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: One of Ueki's opponents has the ability to change his puns into reality.
  • In Medias Res: The anime opens with a quick snippet of the fight between Ueki and Robert Haydn in the Dogura Mansion (which isn't shown in full until over 20 episodes in), before starting at the beginning of the story proper.
  • King of All Cosmos: The winner's God Candidate gets this job. The incumbent King of All Cosmos is a Dirty Old Man dressed in an unbuttoned button-down shirt, shorts, sandals, and wears a ten-gallon hat with Cool Shades on it.
  • Kirk Summation: The purpose of the tournament was so the King could try to get the Protectorates to see that times had changed and they had to stop living in the past and start looking to the future. He even gives a speech about it to the Protectorate controlling Margaret. It doesn't go as planned.
  • A Lady on Each Arm: God.
  • Last-Minute Hookup: Ueki and Mori officially become a couple at the end of The Law of Ueki Plus.
  • Lethal Chef: subverted in Mori's case. Her cooking looks disgusting (and alive) but tastes very good.
  • Lost Food Grievance: Becomes a bit of a Running Gag with Ueki.
    • In the first episode, Sakura Suzuki accidentally trips while inside a restaurant and hits Ueki in the back, causing him to spill his rice. Ueki then scolds Sakura about it, which pisses Sakura off to the point where he would beat him up if he himself weren't on the run from Kuroiwa.
    • During Ueki's fight against Li Ho, he mentions how Li Ho attacking Kobayashi's place causes him to drop his onigiri.
  • Luckily, My Shield Will Protect Me: The Hood, the 2-star Sacred Weapon, is a giant gauntlet spawned from the ground to protect the user from attacks.
  • Magic A Is Magic A:
    • Every single power in the story works the same way: they transform something into another thing (from physical objects such as towels into iron, to abstractions such as the power to turn ideals into reality). Additionally, all of them come with a certain condition the user has to do to activate it, such as putting their hands inside their pockets or holding their breath.
    • Every Celestial's Sacred Weapons all have the same baseline capabilities (for example, a Kurogane always takes the shape of a giant cannonball, and a Mash always looks like a cube with a giant mouth). The only differences lie within the way the user's powers further enhance the shape and capabilities of their Sacred Weapons (for example, Ueki's Weapons all grow from tree roots).
  • Magikarp Power: While not completely useless and fairly versatile, Ueki's power to turn trash into trees is on the weaker side of abilities for outright combat compared to, say, being able to turn one second into ten or turn BB bullets into meteorites. To make up for this, his Level 2 is probably one of the strongest in the tournament: The power to essentially negate all the other combatants' powers by reverting their objects or abilities back to their original state.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: Justified by the tournament rules. If a god candidate helps their student during battle in any way, they get sent to Hell and put on death row there.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: As the tournament has long ended in the sequel series, Ueki cannot use his Sacred Weapons on his enemies as he only has two Zai left. Hence, he gains a new ability to fight his enemies.
  • Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: In his battle with Ueki, Taira gets carried away and runs out of water to use his power. Lafferty literally teleports him a refrigerator full of it so can continue to fight, in direct violation of the rule Celestial King Candidates aren't allowed to directly interfere in the tournament. Sano calls her out on it , she just brushes his accusation aside saying only matter if she gets caught. She then steal's Sano towel for good measure to make sure he can't interfere.
  • Oddly Named Sequel: The Law of Ueki Plus
  • Official Couple: Ueki and Mori. While not explicit in the series (although there are are a few subtle Ship Tease moments), it became all but stated in the sequel series The Law of Ueki Plus (whose very last scene is a Held Gaze between both), and it was finally made canon in 2014 when author Tsubasa Fukuchi posted this adorable image in his Twitter.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: intentionally done twice, with characters describing how awesome a Dangerous Forbidden Technique was, after it was used off-camera. It is then explained as the result of a lack in special effects budget.
    Sano: And my new special attack Magnetic Screw Choqa Zanbil didn't work at all.
    Teammate: Yes, it was an amazing attack.
    Subtitles: ((Please imagine the attack for yourselves))
  • Ojou: Rinko, whose status and wealth had been exploited to no end by her schoolmates, leading her to join the Robert's Ten.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Robert and Anon. Possibly Margaret.
  • Portmanteau: The creator, fans, and most of the characters refer to Kobayashi-sensei as "Kobasen." (In English, it gets shortened to "Mr. K.")
  • Power Gives You Wings: The Seiku, the 9-star Sacred Weapon, are a pair of wings. The only catch is that most Celestials can't use more than one Sacred Weapon at a time, so they can't attack with their, say, Pick or Namihana while flying.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: Robert's 10. Almost every team in Round 3 is another squad.
  • Reset Button: What Ueki uses The Talent of Blank for. He makes it The Talent to Reunite, which ends up bringing back all the talents and people he and everybody else lost over the series. It even brings Mr. K back from the underworld.
  • Retractable Weapon: The Pick, the 5-star Sacred Weapon, is a giant column that shoots out of the user's hand.
  • Rule of Symbolism: Ueki's Maoh takes the form of Kobasen/Mr. K, symbolizing his desire to protect his True Companions, while Anon!Robert's is an Eldritch Abomination symbolizing his hatred for humanity.
  • Scary Shiny Glasses: seems to be Kobayashi's natural state, coupled with Opaque Lenses.
  • Scissors Cuts Rock: Seen during Ueki's fight against Maruo Taira, who has the power to turn water put into his mouth into fire. As Ueki's tree-based powers always fall against Taira's fire, at one point Ueki creates a chestnut tree, and the chestnuts burst open with the heat and hit Taira all over, including in his eye. Later during the fight, Taira's candidate cheats and helps him out, nearly causing both Ueki and Sano defeat. Beaten down and with Taira about to unleash a giant fireball on the two, Ueki uses the last of his strength to create a tree big and strong enough to shoot past the fireball and hit Taira square in the chest, knocking him out.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Hideyoshi does this to Team Ueki at the end. Subverted however; he couldn't abandon his friends in the end, and by coming back at the last minute, he saves Kosuke's life by getting knocked out by his Kurogane attack.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The series takes quite a bit from YuYu Hakusho, namely having a hero team composed by a lazy student with green hair (Yusuke Urameshi/Kosuke Ueki) whose true father is secretly a supernatural king with long hair and a goatee, an hyper girl with attitude and a blueish green hair (Botan/Ai), a headband-wearing lancer with a weird eye and metal weapons who was a former enemy (Hiei/Sano), a long-haired, relaxed strategist with a purple color scheme who uses small beads or seeds and was also a former enemy (Kurama/Rinko), and a bruiser with a rash personality orangeish hair (Kuwabara/Soya). It is also possible to compare Robert's Ten to the Sensui Seven, particularly due to Robert's and Sensui's similar pasts.
    • In the second episode, God does the "1, 2, 3, HUSTLE, HUSTLE!!" taunt popularized by Professional Wrestling promotion Fighting Opera HUSTLE at the time the anime was produced.
    • Li Ho's special martial arts technique to break through boulders is called 岩窟王 Gankutsu'ou in Japanese, which can be literally translated to "King of the Cavern"; but it is also part of the Japanese title for the novel The Count of Monte Cristo, and thus, the English name for his technique is called "The Count of Monte Cristo".
    • In the European Spanish dub, Ueki can be heard singing the legendary opening of cult Spanish TV series Verano Azul while cleaning up a street. In another occasion, he also quotes the refrain of Ricky Martin's María.
  • Sink or Swim Mentor: While Koba-sen, Ueki's God Candidate, has a strong sense of justice, he is laid back to the point that he pretty much leaves Ueki to figure out his powers by himself. To be fair, though, those are the rules. When he does step in to save Ueki from certain death—against the tournament's rules—he promptly suffers from the Mentor Occupational Hazard. Though he doesn't die, he is sent to Hell.
    • However, Kobayashi never told Ueki about the tournament, its rules, or the prize until after he'd already gotten into a fight. Everybody else knew all the specifics well before then.
  • Snarky Non-Human Sidekick: Tenko, although he quickly loses his initial snarkiness and becomes more of a standard Non-Human Sidekick later on.
  • Sprint Shoes: The Raika, the 6-star Sacred Weapon (although it's not so much a "weapon") are a pair of skates that let the user move really fast, but negates their ability to jump.
  • Spoiler Opening:
    • The first opening makes it clear that Rinko will join Ueki's team, despite being initially presented as one of Robert's Ten in the anime proper.
    • The second opening spoils quite a few things, most significantly the fight against Team Marilyn.
  • Story-Breaker Power: Mori's power, which basically allows her to turn her opponents into eyeglasses fetishists, which is convenient because she wears eyeglasses. They become so enamored with eyeglasses that she can force them to knock themselves out just by threatening to destroy her glasses. The only thing that prevents it from being one is the "Goodie Two-Shoes Pose" requirement.
  • Talking Is a Free Action: it may be more of a premise of the whole show than Heart Is an Awesome Power.
    • Early in the series a candidate was dragged into Hell instantly. Later, Kobasen suffers from the same problem, but he retells a five-minute-long flashback in the process.
      • Not to mention that Inumaru does the exact same thing in Dogura Mansion.
    • And that part with "safe zones". It's said that if you spend 10 seconds in a safe zone, you instantly lose. A guy stands there while everybody else dumps exposition for more than half a minute.
    • Delivering exposition while dodging lasers. Try to beat that.
  • Talk to the Fist: Seen in the ending of Episode 3, when a random opponent approaches Ueki.
    Enemy: Do you want to know what my ability is? I'll show you. When I squeeze a stone, I can-
    [Ueki hits the guy with a tree, knocking him out]
  • Teens Are Monsters: All of the contestants in the tournament are supposedly junior high school students, yet a lot of them want to be the champion in order to take over the world, and have no qualms about killing their opponents.
  • That Russian Squat Dance: One of the challenges in Dogura Mansion is in the Cossack Field. Participants have to do the dance while wearing cossack hats, in order to breathe in a special low-oxygen environment.
  • This Is a Drill: Robert's Pick is shaped like a drill.
  • Title Drop: The title The Law of Ueki appears as a program in Mr. K's computer, which he uses to monitor the number of talents Ueki has, along with the ones he has lost and gained.
  • Too Dumb to Fool: B.J. starts off trying to win fights by claiming to be Robert Haydn, which causes people to run in fear. While the ever-paranoid Mori falls for this, Ueki just remembers that B.J. had already introduced himself as B.J. earlier that day, and just can't seem to understand B.J.'s claims that his name is really Robert Haydn... and keeps insisting that he's really B.J. The fact that he doesn't even know who Robert Haydn is probably helps.
  • Tournament Arc: The entire series is one of these.
  • Tsundere: Mori, who leans much more toward tsuntsun than deredere
  • Tunnel King: One character has, as he calls it, "A power to turn my beautiful hair into a drill!" which allows him to dig extremely fast.
  • Use Your Head: A one-shot character has the power to turn his forehead into diamond when his hands are in his pockets; he then uses his diamond-head to headbutt people into submission.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Subverted. Ueki's power may seem like the weakest, but its Level 2 ability is game-breaking.
    • Plus, it's incredibly versatile and has very forgiving conditions. Ueki can direct his trees to grow however he wants and only needs to be touching trash with his hands to transform it, and there are a lot of things that count as trash, such as debris from one of his own trees.

Alternative Title(s): The Law Of Ueki