Saturday, July 12, 2014

Kongo Bancho, vol. 2 review

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Kongo Bancho, vol. 2 (2008), by Nakaba Suzuki. Grade: A
Kongo visits Ouda in the hospital and is happy to learn that the boxer is expected to be back up and around and boxing again in about one month. Ouda asks how Akira's wounds are faring, and the monster replies, "They've been able to heal with time". "What are you talking about, it's only been one day!" Elsewhere, Oyanana, the spoiled brat son of the Chiyoda school principal, is being beaten up by his former friends since he no longer controls the school. Two Buddhists, one huge monster and a smaller guy riding on his shoulder, arrive to help save Oyanana from the bullies. Oyanana tries to protect his friends, saying that he's the one at fault, but the Buddhists send him on his way. One of the punks insults Buddhism, making the newcomers very angry. The smaller one wraps himself up into a ball and the bigger one throws him at the punks. Oyanana jumps in the way, so the Buddhists take their anger out on him instead. Just as he's about to pass out, Oyanana sees Kongo step in to trash the two Buddhists. Kongo asks why such a spoiled brat like Oyanana would let himself get so beat up like this. The brat replies that he wanted to be like Kongo and protect people that he likes, but he's not in Kongo's league. Akira praises him as "a real man", then carries the limp body to the hospital.

(Seitaka and Kongara.)

A little later, the two Buddhists, Seitaka and Kongara, have returned to their leader's shrine in Sumida ward and have set up 1,000 men to act as a barrier to protect Nenbutsu Bancho. So, Kongo comes in through the roof, grabs Kongara, and throws him through the door to make his entrance. Kongara arcs through Nenbutsu's meditation room, shouting an apology for the interruption. Nenbutsu just moves out of the way, allowing Kongara to bounce off the back wall and into the piranha pool.

(Nenbutsu's gimmick is revealed.)

Kongo comes into the room, followed by the ranks of disciples. Nenbutsu tells Kongo that he only has two options, to dive into the pool of piranha, or to try to exit through the 1,000 disciples behind him. Akira picks option 3, which is to run across the surface of the pool, rescue Kongara, and throw the guy back to Seitaka. Nenbutsu tries to impress Kongo with a number of Buddhist tricks, such as the "energy eye", "teleportation" and "levitation". While Kongo does get beaten up a bit, he manages to topple the giant statue that Nenbutsu is sitting on and takes the battle into the fish pool. When they eventually get back out, we learn that Nenbutsu's "Buddhist" skills are really just byproducts of his overly large stomach, which had been hidden by his school uniform. He just inhales a lot of air and uses that for his tricks. Kongo soon defeats him, and all of Nenbutsu's followers desert him, except Seitaka and Kongara. Akira leaves, having avenged Oyanana. He's now the Bancho of Sumida ward, as well as Chiyoda.


Over in Minato ward, apartment residents near one expressway are complaining of the biker gang that keeps riding around at night, waking them up. The next morning the gang is gone, but the road looks like it's been destroyed by meteor strikes and traffic quickly backs up for miles. In a park in Chiyoda, Hinako's little sister has learned that Kongo likes pudding, and has spent the day decorating a pudding cup with his likeness in caramel syrup. After he sits down, a guy twice his size comes up claiming to be Gouriki Bancho (Herculean Strength) and wanting a match. Akira tells him to wait until he's finished the pudding. Gouriki swings, and Akira stops the punch with one hand and effortlessly holds him back until Tsukimi finishes hand-feeding him. "Gouriki" then breaks down and begs Kongo for help. In fact, he's one of the real Gouriki's followers, but Goriki's gotten out of control and there's no one else that can stop him. All of the latest incidents in the news - the destruction of a yakuza building, the trashing of the biker gang and the demolition of a corrupt drug manufacturer - had resulted in collateral damage (loss of legitimate offices for businesses in the same building; closing of the expressway; loss of farms near the pharmaceutical factory). Gouriki chases after "justice" without thinking about who all gets hurt along the way. Switch to a private girl's school where one of the kindest, nicest, upper-classiest girls just happens to train using half-ton ball hammers. The real Gouriki goes to a chemical plant that's polluting the air and proceeds to flatten it with her hammers. Kongo shows up to stop her, but is pretty quickly pounded into the ground. An explosion sends some girders into the last remaining tank, and the chemicals that spill out corrode everything they touch. Gouriki's butler and Hinako are watching in the background, and the butler announces that this stuff is extremely toxic and if it gets into a river leading to the ocean, everyone that eats fish will die of poisoning. (The butler seems to enjoy this idea too much.) Gouriki's henchman arrives to block the chemical runoff with a semi-trailer, but he gets burned by the stuff very quickly. Gouriki tries to get him to save himself, but he's doing this for her. Both of them are in tears, when Kongo locates the tank that has the counter-agent for the runoff and neutralizes it. Gouriki asks for a rematch and Kongo easily crushes her with Double Hammer. Gouriki figures that Kongo knew the tank behind her was dangerous and was pulling his punches to keep from smashing her into it. She happily surrenders her title for Minato ward to Akira.

(Shirobara is the weakest Bancho so far.)

In Kita ward, a kid named Hanazawa suggests to Shirobara Bancho (White Rose) that if he attacks Kongo, he'll pick up 3 full wards in one swoop. Shiro, a lover of "beauty," likes this idea. Soon, Kongo is walking down a street when it's filled with flower petals. Shiro tries to announce himself and his beautiful followers, but Akira just punches him in the face, breaking his teeth, and tells him to stop littering. Back in his lair, Shiro complains to Hanazawa about the failed plan, then gets stabbed in the back by one of his own followers. The traitor announces that she's teaming up with Hanazawa to take over Kita ward, then every one of the other followers attacks her for the same reason. Within a few minutes, the only one still standing is Hanazawa. He puts on a mask, identifying himself as the Bancho of Itabashi, and now of Kita, ward - Hikyo (Coward or Cheater).

(Hikyo, announcing that he's going to whip Kongo to death in return for releasing Tsukimi.)

One day, Kondo is on a train filled with people when there's the sound of gun shots. He can't do anything or he'll cause a riot. But when he gets out, he finds that he has 4 bullet holes in his leg. He gets Hinako to help extract the bullets. A little later, he's lured to a far school building, where a time bomb goes off, nearly blinding him and damaging one arm. Hinako tries to get him to go to a hospital or to the police, but they both know that would be futile. On the way home that evening, Hikyo appears on the other side of the street and claims to have a hand grenade. He throws it into the street. Kongo can't tell it's just a ball and leaps forward to intercept it just in time to be hit by a speeding truck. Knowing that he's at a disadvantage, Kongo plans on disappearing, except that Hinako tries calling the daycare center that Tsukimi attends and is told that her "big brother" just came to pick her up. Kongo gets a call from Hikyo, and goes alone to an empty warehouse as instructed. In the warehouse, Tsukimi is nowhere to be seen, and Hikyo promises to release her if Kongo lets him hit him 100 times with a barbed whip. Kongo agrees, but Hikyo gets tired after 80 or so swings. Akira shouts at him to keep going. Panicked, Hikyo strikes the 100th time, then changes the game. He'll release the girl after hitting Kongo with a wrecking ball. Kongo can't retaliate with his arms, legs or head. Akira agrees and stands and waits. Hikyo attacks with the wrecking ball, which Kongo stops with his chest and sends flying back into the truck cab. Hikyo demands to know how Kongo could stand against that attack with his damaged arm and leg, and Akira responds that he'd used the time while being whipped to let himself heal. Kondo pulls Hikyo from the wreckage, but before he can go any further, a small masked boy runs out with a stick and demands that the "big bully" quit picking on his big brother.

Comments: Ok, yes, we all know that people can't heal from bullet wounds in a couple of hours, or stop wrecking balls with their chest. That's what makes this manga so much fun - the fact that it's so over the top. The main message this time is, "Protect your friends, no matter how 'evil' you're supposed to be." Highly recommended.

(Note, Gouriki's butler tells Hinako that Gouriki was born with a rare condition called "Hyperion Constitution", where her muscles are a dozen times denser than normal and wrapped in a way to protect her better. He suspects that Kongo has the same condition.)

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