Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Syun Matsuena. It was serialized in Shogakukan’s magazine Weekly Shōnen Sunday from May 2002 to September 2014.
The manga is a remake of Tatakae! Ryōzanpaku Shijō Saikyō no Deshi, which was serialized in the monthly magazine Shōnen Sunday Super, publishing five tankōbon between 2000 and 2002.
The first tankōbon was published on August 9, 2002.
The manga series is written and illustrated by Syun Matsuena. It was serialized in Shogakukan’s Weekly Shōnen Sunday from May 1, 2002 and finished on September 13, 2014. The manga is a remake of Tatakae! Ryōzanpaku Shijō Saikyō no Deshi, which was serialized in the monthly magazine Shōnen Sunday Super.
Shogakukan has released chapters in tankōbon format under Shōnen Sunday Comics imprint and as of now 61 volumes has been published. The first volume was published on August 9, 2002, and the latest on November 18, 2014. Shogakukan also released limited edition versions of several volumes beginning with volume 35. The series is licensed in France by Kurokawa.
The story focuses on Kenichi Shirahama, a 15-year-old high school student and a long-time victim of bullying. At the beginning of the story, he befriends transfer student Miu Fūrinji; and desires to become stronger, he follows her to Ryōzanpaku, a dojo housing several masters of diverse martial arts, led by her grandfather Hayato Fūrinji. After learning basics from Miu, Kenichi overcomes a high-ranking member of the school’s karate club, and becomes a target for all the delinquents in the school. While initially training to protect himself, Kenichi eventually becomes a full disciple of Ryōzanpaku, and becomes enamored of Miu. Subsequently, Kenichi’s daily routine is divided between training under the six masters of Ryōzanpaku, and his fights against the members of ‘Ragnarok’, a gang of bullies trying alternately to recruit or to vanquish him. After Ragnarok is disbanded, Kenichi and Miu are targeted by Yomi, a group of disciples personally trained by a master of an organization rivaling Ryōzanpaku, Yami. While the masters of Ryōzanpaku and their allies follow the principle of always sparing their opponents’ lives (Katsujin-ken), the members of Yami believe that any means of defeating an opponent is valid, including murder (Satsujin-ken). In the struggle between the two factions, Kenichi, Miu, and their allies fight the members of Yomi, while his masters confront the members of Yami. The conflict between the two factions culminate with the final battle to stop Yami’s main objective, which is to usher a new era of chaos and warfare in the world, also known as “The Eternal Sunset”. Once the Eternal Sunset is prevented and their main leader is defeated, Yami and Yomi are disbanded as well. Kenichi then continues to train at Ryōzanpaku, and years later he becomes a famous novelist, but it’s hinted that he also becomes Miu’s husband and a martial arts master more powerful than her grandfather, the Elder, who had always sworn he would only allow Miu to marry someone capable of defeating him first.
The series makes use of several in-universe concepts including:
- Dou (動)
- The word “Dou” means motion. Users seem to rely heavily on instincts and brute strength when fighting; but Dou fighters have a technique of interpreting an opponent’s movements. According to James Shiba, a Dou fighter focuses on making their ki “explode” after channeling it through a target to deal damage. According to the manga, Apachai, Sakaki, and Miu are all Dou types.
- Sei (静)
- The word “Sei” means silence. Users focus their attention on changes in the environment and react to imminent danger. These traits are evident in Kensei, Akisame, Hayato, and Kenichi. This principle requires calm and clarity of mind. Ryūto Asamiya also seems a fighter of the Sei class; but in an experiment conducted by his master Ogata, he tried to embody both Sei and Dou styles at the same time, incurring some damage to himself.
- The Path of Asura
- The path of the martial artist who pursues power in order to kill. Isshinsai Ogata walks this path and tries to convince Kenichi to follow him, with no success.
- Killing Fist (殺人拳 Satsujin-ken)
- Literally “the Death giving fist”: the belief that bare-handed martial arts were created as killing weapons. Despite this a follower is not obliged to kill an opponent. Yami embodies this principle.
- Saving Fist (活人拳 Katsujin-Ken)
- Literally “the Life giving fist”: the belief that bare-handed martial arts were created in defense of innocent lives. Its guidelines are ‘not to kill and not to be killed’. The masters of Ryozanpaku maintain this principle.