Tough (aka: Koko Tekken-den Tough) Vol. #03 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 18 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.95
  • Pages: 186
  • ISBN: 1-59116-841-4
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Tough (aka: Koko Tekken-den Tough) Vol. #03

By Eduardo M. Chavez     July 29, 2005
Release Date: July 15, 2005

Tough (aka: Koko Tekken-den Tough) Vol.#03
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Saruwatari Tetsuya
Translated by:JN Productions
Adapted by:

What They Say
When Kiibo finds his latest nemesis-turned-friend, Onihei the Destroyer, beaten to a bloody pulp, he vows to take revenge, but Onihei warns him that his attacker was none other than the feared "Evil Beast" - a savage martial artist trained by Onihei himself! Now obsessed with becoming the world's strongest fighter, the Beast is looking for the man he hears is even more powerful than Onihei - namely, Kiibo's father!

The Review
Tough has to have some of the cheapest production values I have seen from Viz in a while. They do not use the original cover art for this volume; instead, they dig up a random piece with a character design that is not used yet. The front cover has main character Miyazawa Kiichi posturing. Real tough. Above Kiichi there is the "TOUGH" logo in huge sweaty block letters (yes, there is perspiration). The opposite cover is on fire, and the flames are surrounding the spoiler-ific volume description and a small piece of character art featuring a Kiichi of the future - totally ripped with an aura that should freak out most wild beasts.

Inside, the volume header is simply the logo in black and white. There are no chapter headers or extras to this series, so Viz just jumps into the action after another publication notes and contents pages. The printing is pretty good, especially when considering how much screen tone there is. I did not notice any major aliasing, and the inks looked clean. Good, but simple production.

Let me start off by saying the cover art is deceiving. Yeah there is very little art there, but the character design used on the cover is not what is present inside. Saruwatari will start to move toward this more modern design down the line, but currently Kiichi is nowhere near as lean or clean as the one on the cover. Actually, Sarawatari's designs are rather bulky. Characters tend to be on the big bulging side; even female characters tend to be rounder then slimmer. I guess the best way to describe it is a combination of Itagaki Keisuke (Grappler Baki) and Hara Tetsuo (Fist of the North Star). While characters are large and beefy (typical of Hara works), they have extreme expressions and strange quirks (ala Itagaki). I cannot say I like the look, but as long as the action is good, I could care less.

These characters tend to only look normal in certain angels. Therefore, in action scenes characters tend to lose detail and start to deform a bit. Fortunately, with the comedic and punk attitude of this series, it is not too distracting. Costume designs are really interesting. Leather, jeans, dragon jackets and trench coats are all present; building a sense of punk and yanki themes that has yet to have been clearly established. There really does not appear to be a Hanshin look present, but I will say it definitely looks 90's to me.

The backgrounds are great when present. This is very important actually, as it helps with the action. Giving the background more detail gives characters more to work with or around. There is more depth to the strategy, for variables for damage and more obstacles to interfere. Saruwatari takes advantage of all of that having characters destroy vehicles, get smashed by vending machines and using whatever object they can find as a lethal weapon. The layout really works well with the action, as well. By focusing on the movements instead of the reactions, readers can see the bone-crushing blows one-by-one. That is really, what matters... the ass kicking! Gratuitous yes, but still great stuff!

The translation for Tough is good, but I was not really impressed. This manga is set in Kobe, which is in the Hanshin district of Japan (Hanshin is the Osaka-Kobe area). There is a lot of slang, a lot of colloquial dialogue and a lot of attitude. Two out of three is not bad, but I had a tough time with some of the choices made. Maybe, I am getting a little old or maybe it is because I have lived there, but I it does not settle well with me. Fortunately, there are no real major context issues that I can see; it is really the execution as the characters lose personality with a rather flat adaptation. I was impressed by the research done, so the notes on martial arts are well done and informative.

The SFX are translated with overlays. The overlays are similar in size to the original and have a very clean good-looking retouch. I am not a fan of overlays, but this does make "thwak"-ing skull seem more impressive.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
From the beginning of time the weak has looked up to the strong. Power, authority and respect come with strength and with it comes responsibilities. Being the strongest mean defending that title. To accomplish that one must take on all comers and defeat them all. You can never run away or back down. Winning at all costs makes you the strongest and the chase for your head is never going to end. Power, skill and heart master these three concepts and victory will almost always be assured. Miss out on any of them, and eventual defeats will be devastating.

Kiibo has long believed he was born to become the strongest someday. As the heir to a long line of martial arts assassins, Kiibo understands his responsibility and wants to someday (soon) attain the level of respect his name demands.

The road to success is simple - defeat all challengers. To do so, one can never refuse a fight and never back down. However, he has a mighty obstacle in his way. A mountain of a man, trained by a martial arts freak to become the pinnacle of no-holds barred fighting. Kiibo has before him someone willing to kill to win. This man-beast has the same goal as Kiibo, but as he is a proven warrior already. Friend or foe, he does not distinguish in the heat of battle, everyone he faces either gives up on the match or gives up on life.

Kiibo has not done either, yet but he might soon be forced into it. He will soon have to fight for his life, but does he have the ability to give up on everything for the fight. He might think he can; however he will never know until he is taken to that point.

Fighting for fun, fighting for business or fighting for something or someone you stand for everyone wants to win. Fighting to lose is never an option. Losing often creates a much deeper problem for the defeated.

In Sawarutari’s Tough, losing is always the last resort and unless you know exactly what you are doing, it will come back to haunt you. Kiibo has not felt what it is like to lose. Well, in a way he has, but his father is a completely different beast. But in the battles he has chosen to fight in, defeat has rarely crossed his mind. His attitude is consistently getting him into trouble, while his talent is equally as often able to get him out of it.

That time has ended, and it could not have come at a better time. I was long growing annoyed by Kiichi’s cockiness. Fighting for the hell of it is fun, but it does nothing for me. It is almost reptilian, really. Fighting for friendship, fighting for growth, fighting to teach someone what to fight for takes a little more brain matter and even though Kiichi is far from smart, he has heart and determination. That is what has turned me around here.

It is seeing the supporting cast have some part of the dialogue and the plot is another major step for the positive. They give the mangaka a chance to back off of the training and fighting. What they bring to the story is scheming and dealing. They work in the world of strength, but they create strength in more ways than by building muscle, bone and tendon. They have influential power, financial power and intellectual power they wield over others in the business. They play a different game than Kiichi. And, they stand in his way, even though he is not aware how much so.

Seeing Sawarutari weave layer upon layer of deception and trickery, while working on the development of his lead character is brilliant. There is so much happening, but unlike other manga, this one seems to be going somewhere – a floating ring in international waters! And when all of the players arrive something huge is going to go down. Last volume, a big battle like this would mean little to me. It would not be built up like this. Instead, we would see Kiichi itching for a fistfight; now, we get some substance, some politics and drama, and that has me itching to be in the front row of this exclusive “no-holds barred” fight till the end.


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