Kenichi is on the quest to become the world’s mightiest warrior by training in a dojo with six – that’s right, six – different masters teaching him six different fighting styles. And now that he’s gain so much skill in the martial arts, he is being targeted by the leaders of rival gang Ragnarok, who pick fights with him on the streets. But with the help of his female classmate and training partner Miu, the two of them take on any opponent that dare to challenge his six different styles.
The first season of Kenichi: the Mightiest Disciple completely flew under my radar last year because it did not really look all that interesting with a plot like that. However, it ended up becoming a sleeper hit for FUNimation. In fact, the company has said that the reason why they are releasing this second season is because the fan support has been so huge for this series alone.
So I decided to finally give this series a shot with its second season to see what all this hype could be about. But needless to say, I did not find it all that appealing. If Soul Eater was a throwback of all the awesome anime series I remember watching while growing up, then Kenichi is certainly a throwback to all the mediocre ones.
What stood out for me first and foremost was just how poorly this show is animated. Even though the “still frame” shot is quite a staple in anime, Kenichi manages to absolutely abuse the power. There is the good old fashion static still frame. There is the pan across a wide still frame. And then there is a still frame where only the mouth is moving, which looks really awkward because they did not even bother moving the chin up and down.
It is amazing to watch how much movement is not happening in each episode. It is as if their goal was to create an entire show using as little work as possible.
So in lieu of action, Kenichi has to rely on massive amounts of dialogue to drive its minimalist shonen action story. The Japanese cast is way too over-the-top in their delivery in order to heighten the comedy. This gets really annoying after a while and it is difficult to continue listening to this for an entire episode. The English cast brings it down a few notches to make the audio much more tolerable and enjoyable at some points.
Kenichi is an action-comedy, however, the animation is far too lazy to allow a lot of action sequences. So that means it is mostly comedy, and because it is simplistic Japanese comedy, it does not really translate so well into English. The dub team really attempts to adapt this to be entertaining, and they manage to make it amusing, albeit in a cheesy and corny way. I probably encountered about 5 true “laugh out loud” moments within this 12-episode set, which is a better track record than most anime comedies.
I also really liked the fanservice. The series features a handful of sexy female characters with wide curves and huge (but not too huge) breasts. And they are not afraid of putting these buxom babes in plenty of shirt skirts and highly revealing outfits. In fact, the first episode of this set starts off with the introduction of a female character in a tight Chinese cheongsam. However, this dress just so happens to have a wide opening on top that manages to showcase as much cleavage as the girl could possibly have to offer.
Unfortunately, this dress might have been the best part of this completely mediocre series.
Coming off of the heals of FUNi’s Soul Eater release, I believe that Kenichi is suffering from the same thing that Kaze no Stigma suffered on the heals of Romeo x Juliet last summer. It is not an awful series per se, and it might actually be good for you if you just want some mind-numbing entertainment. I would have enjoyed seeing this kind of show after school on Toonami back in the day among all the other so-so action series.
However, given all the options we have available today, you really should be spending your time and money on great anime series. Skip the mediocre ones like this for the Right Stuf bargain bin sales.
* * * * *
The Good: Great fanservice, decent english voice cast, and some of the jokes are kind of funny.
The Bad: Awful animation, annoying Japanese voices, generic plot.
Final Verdict: Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple is not really that bad, but it just does not have enough going for it to make it really recommendable. Skip it!
Review copy provided by FUNimation Entertainment.