I’m a huge sucker for anime that involves martial arts. Heck, for anything that involves martial arts. I dream about one day becoming a disciple of a certain martial arts form, but that day may be behind me (my only training was trying lethal moves out on my sister, in a joking manner of course). But the adrenaline and inspiration that martial arts injects into me makes me feel like I can do anything. And a character like Kenichi: History’s Mightiest Disciple proves it.
Although this anime boasts 50 episodes (and OVA’s to come), it is rather simple and extols the teachings and techniques of martial arts. Kenichi “Weak Knees” Shirahama (Josh Grelle) is just what his nickname suggests. Picked on all the time at school and always outcasted, Kenichi joins the school’s Karate Club in order to become stronger. After being
threatened by the biggest kid in the club, Kenichi is worried for his life. And his alien looking friend Haruo Niijima (Todd Haberkorn) confirms this.
Until one day when Kenichi’s entire life changes. Rescued by a new transfer student to the school, Miu Furinji (Carrie Savage), Kenichi discovers a way to fight back against all those bullies. Joining the Ryozanpaku dojo, Kenichi becomes the sole disciple and strongest hero by story’s end.
What I liked most about this show, other than the martial arts, is the sensei’s of the dojo. There’s Hayato Furinji (R. Bruce Elliott), the wizened leader of the gym who is basically unstoppable. Although he’s not around, he supports Kenichi and his granddaughter Miu. There’s Shio Sakaki (Christopher Sabat) the drunken comedy and Karate master. His punches are fierce and so is his standoffish personality. He likes Kenichi like a father (although he already has one) and pushes him to do better. Apachai Hopachai (Sonny Strait) is the dumb guy in the group. He’s lovable and friendly, but he doesn’t know his own strength. Always kicking Kenichi into the atmosphere, he loves calling out his name when he performs Muay Thai (my favorite. Period.) Shigure Kosaka (Trina Nishimura) is the weapons expert of the group. She doesn’t talk much, but makes up for it with quick sharp wit with her blade. Kensei Ma (Vic Mignogna) is an interesting old man. Bald and brazen, he brings the pervert aspect into the anime. Always taking pictures, he still finds time to teach Kenichi Chinese Kenpo (softer martial arts). And last but not least, Kenichi’s main teacher, Akisame Koetsuji (Kent Williams). His intelligence and artful technique pervade every aspect of his life. He can usually be seen forcing Kenichi to tow him around on a tire attached to a string through the city streets.
And there are far more characters than that that add spice to this show. As I mentioned before, Niijima is a wonderfully slithery character. His art of running away never fails, and his PDA never fails on recon. Todd Haberkorn brings a wildly raucous character to life with his evil alien features. And then there’s Ragnarok. Considered all to be Kenichi’s arch rivals, Kenichi must defeat them in order to keep from dying (or anything else terrible). One of my personal favorites is Hermit (Eric Vale) this solemn and quiet character has a masterful technique and an iron will. Eric Vale does a wonderful job as usual as a character who never gives up with a great dramatic voice. Jerry Jewell plays a ferociously sinister character I can’t really talk about, but he’s worth waiting for. And J. Michael Tatum does a voice I didn’t recognize at first with Ikki Takeda, the boxing beauty with shiny blue hair.
With all of these wonderful Funimation voice actors and so many characters, nothing could be better. And then you get down to all the fighting. Although some of it may be unrealistic and come with explosions of light and unheard of power with your fists, the technique is there. I’ve learned more from watching Kenichi than I have from anything else. I know moves, fluid techniques, and trick moves too. I know their names and why they’re significant, I might as well have just
watched a Discovery Channel show on it. And from so many different countries! China, Japan, Thailand, and any other Asian country that may have been mentioned. This show displays a sort of U.N. like congregation of the wonders and majesty of martial arts and brings them together in one wonderful show.
The plot is simple and straightforward, pulling no punches (pun-ch intended). Kenichi must systematically defeat and conquer enemies and his fears in order to become the best. What more of an archetypal story do you need? Throw in a whole lot of comedy, boobs, and amazing fighting technique, Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is one of the best shounen out there. Get some of that kick ass. 8.3 out of 10.