Noob Reviews: Kengan Ashura (Parts 01 and 02)
Please be advised that during the review, I have tried to avoid a lot of spoilers. However, there may still be a few included helping explain specific points.
What is Kengan Ashura?
Throughout the history of Japan, since the Edo period, businesses have secretly held gladiator-style fights called Kengan matches, where warriors would fight on behalf of their sponsors. These fights would be held to win the rights for land, shares, and other business elements such as intellectual property rights and stock, to name but a few. With some of the most prominent CEOs in Japan involved, each Kengan match's stakes can involve phenomenal amounts of money and assets, so they require a distinctive breed of warriors to fight. Enter Ohma.
Ohma is on a quest to not only enhance and develop his fighting skills, to become the best of the best and dominate the Kengan fight scene, but he seeks the warrior who many years before slew his mentor. Luckily for Ohma, who is looking for a way into the Kengan matches, he crosses paths with Kazuo, an employee of the Nogi Group who has just been tasked with finding a fighter and entering this year's Kengan contests to help increase the chance of the Nogi Group's success.
Unfortunately, as the two begin to take on match after match in the usual Kengan scene, Ohma's prowess and skill see them catapulted to new heights and more significant stakes as they move up into the Kengan Annihilation Tournament - the crowning jewel in the Kengan calendar. This year, however, the stakes could not be higher as the current Kengan Association president intends to step down, and the sponsor of this year's winner will take his place.
What type of anime-style is Kengan Ashura?
Kengan Ashura is a full-blooded anime and is based on a Japanese manga series released under the same name between April 2012 and August 2018.
When was the first part of Kengan Ashura released?
The first part of Kengan Ashura was released in July 2019.
What is the first part about?
The first part of Kengan Ashura introduces us to the Kengan scene, its rules/how it works, main characters, their rivals and a few grand schemes. In addition to the foundations, you could call them - it also sees Ohma and Kazuo's rise from the typical small affair Kengan matches to the invitation-only Kengan Annihilation Tournament.
- The official trailer linked from Netflix's YouTube channel -
When was the second part of Kengan Ashura released?
The second part of Kengan Ashura was released in October 2019.
What is the second part about?
Continuing on directly after part one's events, part two sees us amid the Kengan Annihilation Tournament, which is now in full swing. As the tournament continues, the competitors become tougher. And sponsors have to lay their very lives on the line to fulfil some bets.
Unfortunately for Ohma and Kazuo, after his granddaughter becomes obsessed with Ohma, seeing him as the perfect breeding partner to further their bloodline. Ohma and Kazuo find themselves in the crosshairs of an assassin master and the head of the Kure clan. Leading him to unleash his fiercest warrior Raian upon the tournament, a fighter with no morals who takes sadistic pleasure in taking his opponents apart piece by piece.
- The official trailer linked from Netflix's YouTube channel -
How many episodes are there?
To date, in total, there are twenty-four episodes with twelve episodes in each part. The average run time of each episode is around twenty-four minutes.
Has a third part been confirmed?
A third part of the Kengan Ashura story has been confirmed to be coming out in the future. However, as with many other projects affected by COVID, no specific details or timeframes have been given.
Who are some of the voice actors and actresses that we might know?
For a complete cast listing, please see the official IMDB page here.
What did you think about the first two parts of Kengan Ashura?
Kengan Ashura was released to mixed reviews, with many people not liking the art style and others complaining about the anime's sheer brutality. I just thought I would get that out of the way first, as personally, I absolutely loved Kengan Ashura and can not wait for the journey to continue in season three.
When it comes to Kengan Ashura's story, this has to be one of the weakest areas as the core theme around competitors fighting it out in arenas to benefit their sponsors has been done many many times before in other animes, animated adventures, films and literature. However, where Kengan Ashura stands apart is that the character development, story arcs and rivalries are executed with such a level of detail and intricacy that they are fascinating to attempt to predict and very interesting to watch play out.
According to some reviews and sources, Kengan Ashura is a CGI anime, but to me, it looks a lot like some of the older hand-drawn animes and is definitely a significant improvement over some of the more 'modern' 3D style animes that have come to Netflix in the last few years. Personally, the art style has a really dark colour palette for many scenes, which only serves to add to the atmosphere, and it really helps the characters pop out from the backdrop when they are fighting. Although many people have commented previously on the sheer brutality of Kengan Ashura, I will just chime in on this and say it's not that bad. Admittedly at times, it can be rather visceral, there is definitely a lot of blood been shed, and some of the injuries people receive may even make you cringe and recoil, but it is honestly not that much worse than, say, the old Mortal Kombat animated series or Demon Slayer.
One of Kengan Ashura's other elements that really help to build the immersion was oddly the voice acting. For all of the action-packed fight scenes, well choreographer stories and beautiful locations - the voice acting was also brilliantly executed. Compared to many animes, there is not much dialogue, especially during the fights, as I guess it is hard to form complete sentences with a knee in your mouth. Still, when there are spoken elements, the voice acting is fantastically executed, although Ohma, the main character, is more the quiet, brooding type, so you rarely hear much from him. His sponsor (Kazuo) more than makes up for this, though, as he commentates each fight, working out Ohma's strategies and often - even outside of the ring. Finds himself in varying degrees of trouble.
Overall, Kengan Ashura is a fun watch but definitely geared towards a more mature audience due to the level of violence and occasional suggestive innuendos, and foul language. Personally, I am eagerly awaiting details on the third part which will hopefully be with us later this year, if not early 2022.
What rating would you give the first two parts of Kengan Ashura?
I would rate the first two parts of Kengan Ashura as a 4.2 out of 5 bananas.
Coming out on top as one of the better original animes Netflix has commissioned, Kengan Ashura is a fantastic addition to the fighter anime genre. I feel it will really appeal to fans of anime and beat 'em ups like Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter and Tekken.
With a good cast, characters you can really love or hate and intricate patterns of plots and subplots weaving in and out of one another, there is a lot on offer from Kengan Ashura. Whether you are into stories of redemption, revenge, forbidden love, or humble day-to-day people simply trying to provide a better life for their family, there is an element (or two) to suit most tastes.
Thank you very much for checking out the review. If you are interested in Kengan Ashura and would like to check it out yourself, to form your own opinion - you can find it on Netflix here.