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Kinnikuman
Kinnikuman (Jump Comics).jpg
Cover of the fifth Japanese volume of Kinnikuman, published by Shueisha on December 15, 1980
Quick facts for kids
キン肉マン
Genre
Manga
Written by Yudetamago
Published by Shueisha
Demographic Shōnen, seinen
Imprint Jump Comics
Magazine
Original run Initial run
May 1979 – March 1987
Continued run
November 2011
present
Volumes 73 (List of volumes)
Manga
Tatakae!! Ramenman
Written by Yudetamago
Published by Shueisha
Demographic Shōnen
Magazine Fresh Jump
Original run 19821988
Volumes 12
Anime television series
Directed by
  • Yasuo Yamayoshi
  • Takenori Kawada
  • Tetsuo Imazawa
Music by Shinsuke Kazato
Studio Toei Animation
Network Nippon TV
Original run April 3, 1983October 1, 1986
Episodes 137 (List of episodes)
Anime television series
Tatakae!! Ramenman
Directed by Masayuki Akehi
Produced by Masahisa Saeki
Music by Keiichi Oku
Studio Toei Animation
Network Nippon TV
Original run January 10, 1988September 11, 1988
Episodes 35
Anime film
Tatakae!! Ramenman
Directed by Masayuki Akehi
Music by Keiichi Oku
Studio Toei Animation
Released July 9, 1988
Runtime 25 minutes
Anime television series
Kinnikuman: Kinniku-sei Ōi Sōdatsu-hen
Directed by
  • Takeshi Shirato
  • Atsutoshi Umezawa
Music by Akihiko Yoshida
Studio Toei Animation
Network Nippon TV
Original run October 6, 1991September 27, 1992
Episodes 46 (List of episodes)
Manga
Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy
(JP: Kinnikuman: The Second Generation)
Written by Yudetamago
Published by Shueisha
English publisher
Demographic Seinen
Original run April 1998April 2004
Volumes 29
Manga
Kinnikuman Nisei: All Chōjin Dai-Shingeki
Written by Yudetamago
Published by Shueisha
Demographic Shōnen
Magazine V Jump
Original run May 2001March 2007
Volumes 4
Anime television series
Ultimate Muscle
(JP: Kinnikuman: The Second Generation)
Directed by Toshiaki Komura
Studio Toei Animation
Network TV Tokyo
English network
Original run January 9, 2002December 25, 2002
Episodes 51 (List of episodes)
Anime television series
Ultimate Muscle 2
(JP: Kinnikuman: Ultimate Muscle)
Directed by Toshiaki Komura
Studio Toei Animation
Network TV Tokyo
English network
Original run April 7, 2004March 29, 2006
Episodes 26 (List of episodes)
Manga
Kinnikuman Nisei: Kyūkyoku no Chōjin Tag Hen
Written by Yudetamago
Published by Shueisha
Demographic Seinen
Manga
Kinnikuman Lady
Written by Masashi Ogawa
Published by Shueisha
Demographic Seinen
Magazine
  • Ultra Jump Egg (formerly)
  • Ultra Jump
Original run June 2008June 19, 2013
Volumes 3
Related media
  • List of Kinnikuman films

Kinnikuman (Japanese: キン肉マン, lit.transl. "Muscle Man") is a Japanese manga series created by the duo Yoshinori Nakai and Takashi Shimada, known as Yudetamago. It follows Suguru Kinniku, a superhero who must win a wrestling tournament to retain the title of prince of Planet Kinniku. Nakai and Takashi planned the series when they were attending high school originally as a parody to Ultraman.

The manga was originally published in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1979 to 1987, and was first adapted by Toei Animation into a 137-episode anime series broadcast on Nippon Television from 1983 to 1986. It restarted publication in 2011, and has spawned spin-off manga and anime series, video games, anime films, and several Kinnikuman-related merchandise.

The manga series has been popular in Japan, selling over 75 million copies by 2016. As popular as was the anime series and its merchandise, such as Kinkeshi, a line of action figures released as M.U.S.C.L.E. in North America. Although it received the Shogakukan Manga Award for children's manga in 1985, it has received mixed reviews from critics.

Plot

Kinnikuman

See also: List of Kinnikuman characters

The story involves Kinnikuman (real name Suguru Kinniku), a clumsy, foolish, comical superhero who discovers that he is the missing prince of the planet Kinniku (known for producing the greatest superheroes in the universe). Since he is a clumsy fool, however, he must prove himself worthy of the throne. To do so he enters wrestling competitions and battles evil Chojin, culminating in a tournament between Kinnikuman and five pretenders to the throne: Kinnikuman Big Body, Soldier, Zebra, Mariposa and Super Phoenix. Many of Kinnikuman's allies begin as villains (Ramenman, Buffalo Man, Ashuraman and Warsman) or arrogant heroes (Terryman, Robin Mask and Rikishiman). The heroes and villains are collectively known as Chojin , which literally means "supermen".

Ultimate Muscle

See also: List of Ultimate Muscle characters

Mantaro Muscle (also known as Kid Muscle, Mantaro Kinniku in the Japanese version) is the spoiled son of superhero wrestler King Muscle (Kinnikuman in the Japanese version). After 28 years of peace, the Seigi Choujins' (Muscle League) old enemies regroup and form the Demon Manufacturing Plant (dMp, known in the English version as Destruction, Mayhem and Pain). The Muscle League has lost its edge and are overwhelmed by the young, well-trained fighters. Recognizing their weakness, the Seigi Chojin reopen the Hercules Factory (a school for superheroes) and begin training a new generation of heroes to take on the dMp. At first unwilling, Mantaro (Kid Muscle) is one of the young heroes and defeats his father to prove his readiness to graduate. He and the other new Seigi Choujin defeat several members of the dMp and meet Kevin Mask, who quits dMp when he discovers their lack of honor. They also battle Sunshine and his pupils, who destroy the dMp after developing a renewed respect for the fighting spirit of the Seigi Choujins. The manga continues with the New Generation Replacement Tournament, Mantaro's challenge to master his inherited potential (Kajiba no Kuso Chikara, "burning inner strength" or "the fire"), the return of the Chojin Olympics, a fight with the Demon Seed (a villainous group), a backstory for Robin Mask and a tag-team tournament set in the past. Although the manga begins as a fairly lighthearted, humorous (albeit violent) story, later arcs (the No Respect and Demon Seed storylines in particular) have a darker tone and frequently deal with psychological trauma.

Publication

Yoshinori Nakai and Takashi Shimada (collectively known as "Yudetamago"), friends since fourth grade, decided to create a manga series in high school. Before its regular publication, the series (originally a parody of Ultraman) was released as two one-shots in Shueisha's magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump in December 1978 and March 1979: Okamarasu no Maki, which won the Akatsuka Award, and Eraginesu no Maki. Its serialization began in the May 1979 issue and concluded in March 1987. Shueisha collected its 387 chapters into 36 tankōbon, releasing them from February 15, 1980 to April 15, 1988.

The first 36 volumes were re-published as part of the Jump Comics Selection line in 26 volumes from July 19, 1994 to August 26, 1996, as part of the Jump Comics Deluxe line in 18 aizōban volumes from January 14 to November 18, 1999 and on June 6, 2013 all 36 were published in shinsōban format.

Since the series' 2011 restart, Yudetamago has published two related one-shots in Shueisha's magazines. In 2015, a 43-page one-shot titled "Kinnikuman Chōjin Retsuden" (Kinnikuman Superman Biographies) was released in Grand Jump to unfold the story of "supermen" characters. Four years later, the 47-page "Sayonara, Kinnikuman!! no Maki" (The 'Goodbye, Kinnikuman' Story) appeared in Weekly Shōnen Jump, depicting these supermen's arrival during the main character's retirement ceremony.

Sequel and spin-offs

The first manga spun off from Kinnikuman was Tatakae!! Ramenman , a series focused on Ramenman which was published in Fresh Jump from 1982 to 1988. It was compiled into twelve tankōbon volumes released between 1983 and 1989. In 1998 and 1999, Tatakae!! Ramenman was re-published in 9 volumes, in 2002 in 8 volumes, between 2004 and 2006 in 12 volumes, and in 2009 in 5 volumes. Toei Animation adapted it into a 35-episode anime series, which was broadcast from January 10 to September 11, 1988. In 1988, a film was released on July, and a video game on August. On March 21, 2009, the anime series and film were released in a box set. Also, a spin-off of Tatake!! Ramenman, subtitled Chōjin Dai Meikan , was released in 1995.

All Chōjin Dai-Shingeki , an Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy spin-off, was serialized in V Jump from May 2001 to March 2007 and its four tankōbon were published from August 2, 2002 to August 2007. To continue Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy's storyline, Kyūkyoku no Chōjin Tag Hen was published in serial form from 2004 to 2011 and released in 28 tankōbon from November 18, 2005 to December 19, 2011.

A feminized version of the series, Kinnikuman Lady , was created by Masashi Ogawa and began as a webcomic on the Ultra Jump Egg site in June 2008. Its first tankōbon was published on March 19, 2009, and in 2011 it was moved to the Ultra Jump website. The series concluded with the release of its 46 chapter on Ultra Jump, and the release of third tankōbon, both on June 19, 2013.

Anime adaptations

Television series

The first animated series based on Kinnikuman was produced by Toei Animation and directed by Yasuo Yamayoshi, Takenori Kawada and Tetsuo Imazawa. The 137-episode series was originally broadcast in Japan on Nippon TV from April 3, 1983 to October 1, 1986. It was followed by Kinnikuman: Kinniku-sei Ōi Sōdatsu-hen , directed by Takeshi Shirato and Atsutoshi Umezawa. This 46-episode series was produced by Toei and aired on Nippon TV from October 6, 1991 to September 27, 1992. The first series was packaged into 12 DVDs, released from December 6, 2002 to November 21, 2003, and the second series was released on four DVDs from December 5, 2003 to March 21, 2004.

On January 9, 2002, Kinnikuman: Second Generation premiered; the 51-episode series aired until December 25 of that year, and was released on 12 DVDs from September 21, 2002 to August 8, 2003. Licensed by 4Kids Entertainment as Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy, it was broadcast on Fox Box in the United States. In 2003 a 13-episode sequel primarily focused on non-Japanese audiences was announced; it aired on Fox Box in North America, and from April 7 to June 30, 2004 in Japan. Another 13-episode spin-off, Kinnikuman Second Generation: Ultimate Muscle 2, was broadcast from January 4 to March 29, 2006 in Japan. All three series were directed by Toshiaki Komura, produced by Toei Animation and broadcast in Japan by TV Tokyo. The two spin-off series were released as two-DVD box sets on February 24 and June 23, 2006.

Films

Seven films based on the original Kinnikuman were released from 1984 to 1986. The first, Kinnikuman, was directed by Takeshi Shirato and released on July 14, 1984. Kinnikuman: Seigi Chōjin vs. Senshi Chōjin , the last film, was released on December 20, 1986 and was directed by Yasuo Yamayoshi. All seven films were compiled on a DVD released April 21, 2004.

Two films based on Kinnikuman: Second Generation were directed by Toshiaki Komura. The first (eponymous) film was released at the Anime Fair on July 14, 2001 and the second, Kinnikuman Nisei: Muscle Ninjin Sōdatsu! Chōjin Dai Sensō , was released at the same venue on July 20, 2002. The films were released on DVD on May 12, 2002 and April 21, 2003, respectively.

Related media

With the manga's popularity, Bandai produced a brand of eraser-like action figures (keshi) titled Kinkeshi between 1983 and 1987. In Japan, Bandai has released 418 different types of figures, and it was mainly sold through Gashapon. As it attracted Northern American market's interest it was brought by Mattel under the name M.U.S.C.L.E., and a total of 236 figures were traded domestically in the 1980s. In 2007, Toei asked fans if they would like to see all 418 figure types included in the Kinnikuman complete box set. On December 20, 2008, the box set with all the two first series episodes, all seven films, a TV special, and all the figures was released. Aside from this most known series of products, a myriad of other Kinnikuman-based merchandise were released both in Japan and in the America, which vary from action figures to plush dolls, from key holders to pen drives, from picture books to trading card games.

Video games

Several video games based on the series were released. The first were for home computers; a simulation game was released for the PC-88 in November 1984, followed by the 1985 fighting game Kinnikuman: Colosseum Deathmatch . The first console game (Tag Team Match: MUSCLE) was released on November 8, 1985 for Nintendo Entertainment System, and the last game (Kinnikuman: Muscle Grand Prix 2 Tokumori ) was released for PlayStation 2 on September 25, 2008. The social networking service GREE released Kinnikuman Memorial on February 27, 2014.

Legacy

Widely regarded as a classic manga series, it has been cited by Fullmetal Alchemist creator Hiromu Arakawa as a series she "love[s]" and as an influence to her work, as well as by Fairy Tail's Hiro Mashima. Assassination Classroom's Yūsei Matsui cited it as one of his favorite mangas, while Yoshihiro Togashi was influenced by Kinnikuman on shifting the focus of his Yu Yu Hakusho from occult detective fiction to the martial arts genre based on a similar shift Kinnikuman did from comedy to action.

Moreover, Kinnikuman has inspired real life wrestling events. At the Fight Entertainment Group's Dynamite!! 2008 martial arts event at the Saitama Super Arena, Bob Sapp fought Kid Muscle (played by Akihiko Tanaka) in an MMA match. Toei Animation announced a Kinnikumania 2009 wrestling event, scheduled at the JCB Hall in Tokyo Dome City on May 29, 2009 for the manga's 30th anniversary.

Kinnikuman's enduring popularity is also shown by it being used to co-promote Green Lantern in 2011 for the Japanese release of the film, and other characters of it appearing other merchandise, such as a series-themed onigiri and a pollen mask advertisement.

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