If OCCULT ACADEMY’s opener was a counterpoint to those of CORPSE PRINCESS and BLUE EXORCIST, I suppose this works about the same in comparison to SEKIREI. You’ve got a lot of the same ingredients of high school wish fulfillment, chibi shenanigans and a sexy girl with a less-than-believeable interest in our less-than-assertive lead here… but the difference is that it’s actually funny. The T&A’s there, sure, but the focus is to actually make you laugh. Actually, it feels like an amped-up parody of the KARATE KID “saga” - - and I truly mean that in a positive way. C’mon, we all love to hate Kobra Kai, so these karate jocks reminding me of them can’t be a terrible thing, can it?
That said, the timing’s actually a little coincidental, because this is strumming on a lot of the same chords as SLAM DUNK. You got your hapless lead who’s got problems with expressing himself to girls, dodging bullies and getting his less-than-impressive skillz up to snuff. Granted, that set-up describes a whole throng of high school comedies, but if you swapped karate for basketball, you’d find the comparison hard to miss, too. Especially since, in both shows, there’s some super-deadly expert saving our lead from those aforementioned bullies.
I bring all thee comparisons up because I think I’d look more favorably on this if I weren’t watching it toward the end of this sampling period. When it’s grouped with the other shows I've been watching, it honestly feels less distinctive. In a vacuum, I'd want to continue it, but there are plenty other series that seem a lot more appealing at the moment. It’s still not too shabby, though, so it gets a nice cozy spot in the “medium” pile.
KENICHI does get points for that hilarious gag where the karate master’s sixpack is somehow showing through his loose gi. It raises the questions of whether his abs are too ripped or his blackbelt’s tied too tight.
Watch this episode, "Ryozanpak: Where the Powerful Gather!” below and decide for yourself.