Review by: Kiki Van De Kamp
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: $49.98 US
Running Time: 312 minutes
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now
The way of the broken fist and foot.
All Kenichi ever wanted out of life is to learn martial arts to protect the weak and tend to the lovely flowers he helps grow in the Gardening Club in his High school. Unfortunately for him, you don’t always get what you want out of life and what he got instead was brutal martial arts training by a group of masters that literally have him hanging over an open flame as well as an onslaught of gang members that want to take him down. Kenichi, Season 1 Part Two, continues the story of a boy trying to survive school and his eccentric martial arts masters in this fun anime series.
The first part of season one wasn’t a strong beginning but I must admit that – as imperfect as the series is – the episodes were loads of fun to watch. We watched as a vulnerable wimp got whipped into shape to go up against members of a gang known as Ragnarok. In the thirteenth episode, however, Kenichi is beat up by one of the more powerful fighters in the gang only to be saved by an opponent Kenichi defeated and later befriended named Takeda.
Waking up bruised and aware of his limits as a fighter, Kenichi decides to throw himself into the training full-time so when the offer to live in the dojo known as Ryozanpaku he accepts. Of course, this also means he will be living under the same roof as the cute and bosomy Miu who he has a major crush on. His decision has Kenichi’s young sister, Honoka, worried as well as a fellow classmate who has a crush on Kenichi and the always suspicious Niijima.
Unlike most anime series where the training sequences are often tedious, the training is one of the best parts about the series and this is mainly due to the fact that each master is outrageous and absolutely hilarious. In this second part, they’re actually even more out there than in the first part. Sure, it’s still fun watching Apachai kick the soul out of Kenichi’s broken body but watching the masters patrol the exterior of the dojo with spotlight-like eyes is a hoot. As crazy as the training exercises seem to Kenichi, they each have a purpose that Kenichi applies to each fight he manages to get himself into in this second part.
There are fights in this second half of the first season and they’re handled well but there are more comedy-filled moments that takes the fight out of the series. In one episode we follow Kenichi’s young sister who knows something is not right about the dojo and continues to harbor a deep hatred for Miu who she thinks has her brother bewitched by her “impossible boobies” only to find herself loving the place to the point of visiting it often. In another episode, Kenichi asks for a break in his training routine with Master Akisame who decides to take them out on a day at the beach only to turn a pleasant outing into a long training session.
In another episode, Kenichi’s fellow classmate, Izumi, follows Kenichi home because she’s in love with him only to find herself competing against Miu to win him over. One of the funniest episodes, however, is when Miu’s rival tells the school’s Principal that Miu is living with Kenichi. This, of course, sparks a school investigation as the Principal and his assistant visit Ryozanpaku only to find that Miu cooked up a scheme that has Master Sakaki and Weapon Master Shigure playing the role of her parents.
While it’s great to find these light moments scattered throughout Part Two, the best parts come in the form of watching Kenichi put all he learned from his masters in the battle against Ragnarok. He and Miu find themselves going up against a Ragnarok member named Kisara who joins the exclusive part of the gang known as the Eight Deadly Fists. He even goes up against Shimonosuke – who defeated him in the last episode of Part One – and wins.
Unfortunately for Kenichi, rumors of the Sixth Deadly Fist – AKA Hermit – is watching them and waiting to unleash his attack. So as Miu takes on Kisara in a girl-on-girl smack down, Kenichi finds himself trying to find out the identity of Hermit. In the final episodes, Miu accepts to take part in a school production of “Romeo and Juliet” with the hottest guy in school. Kenichi, upset that he might lose Miu to a pretty boy, thinks there’s something not quite right about the boy named Tanimoto.
While Kenichi’s enemies are building up, his list of allies is growing as well as he aids Takeda and a friend of his who makes a comeback in Part Two. As he wins the respect of rivals, he also finds a strange bedfellow in Niijima who starts his own gang and makes Kenichi an unwitting commander. Oh, but the fist really fly when Hermit does make an appearance when he ambushes Kenichi and Miu in the final episode.
Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple, Season 1 Part Two is a mindlessly fun anime series that is considerably fun if you’re able to look past its seen-that-done-that appeal. It’s a series that has decent fights but, more importantly, has a good sense of humor that carries on from start to finish. Could it have been a lot better, you might ask? Yes, but what is here isn’t bad and it’s worth a good look.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
In the second half of the first season, Kenichi advances his training to protect himself and his friends from the gang that has targeted him. In the meantime, his reputation as a formidable fighter is spreading and keeping him on his toes as he discovers that Ragnarok has deadly fighters just waiting to take him on. Can’t a guy tend to a garden in peace?
VIDEO QUALITY: B
The characters are a bit on the generic-looking side but at least the animation is fluid and wonderfully colorful. The best part is that the action looks good and the sight gags are hilarious … even more so in this second part of the first season.
AUDIO QUALITY: A-
The English dub cast does a great job of keeping up with the high-velocity and very charming Japanese voice cast that makes the comedy really work. The music is not a major highlight but it works fine for this series and the new opening theme song introduced in the final episode of the set is much better.
If you’re looking for any interesting featurettes or extras such as production art you won’t find any here. What you will find is a number of trailers and textless opening and closing songs.
While not a brilliant action-comedy anime, Kenichi is a very fun series that will definitely show you a really good time if you let it. Yes, it doesn’t stray from its familiar formula but then again it – like the title character – stands on its own two feet enough that you will like what you see. Part Two of Season 1 of Kenichi is worth a view if you liked the first half.