Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple
Anime DVD Review
Humble admission for the year: I am incredibly average. I have no special skills, abilities, nothing... There will always be someone smarter, faster, stronger, and better than I am.
And so it was that I watched Kenichi. And I was inspired. Because here is the story of someone like me. He is incredibly average. He has no abilities of any kind. And at no point in the story is he ever granted super powers. Nope, everything he gets comes ONLY out his hard work and determination to succeed.
Kenichi would like to be good at martial arts. But he trips over his own feet. He's a loser of the kind you know well. A loser simply because he's average. And he thinks he can learn martial arts from reading a book (I tried that and it doesn't work, so, I really identified with this character). Fortunately, he bumps into someone, literally.
Miu is everything he's not. Beautiful, with.. ah, well.., proportions that only anime can provide. And she appears to be the kind of fighter that gives level three black belts cold sweats and nightmares. She refers him to a dojo where he can learn to be stronger, learn to fight well, and use his opponent's strength against them, ... that is *IF* he survives the training....
While this anime is filled with clichés, they are clichés for a reason; they work. And, to the show's credit fan-service is at a minimum; despite Miu's character design, and even though she's jumping around in a mini-skirt, they manage to avoid the obvious panty-shots.
As Kenichi's growth as a fighter improves over time, we, as the audience, get to learn a real move or two and some of the actual philosophies and physics of real martial arts (such as pivoting and using your opponent's weight against him). Admittedly, some of the believability goes out the window after 5 episodes, but "The Karate Kid" wasn't any better, and frankly, what you get out of this series is more realistic than Naruto or Dragonball Z.
If you're a loser in search of the inspiration become more than you currently are, this show might be a starting point. It got me doing push-ups again. And I'm incredibly average.
Reviewed by Brian Cirulnick, June 2009
Below: Scenes from Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple.