Manga Review: Bamboo Blade
May 8, 2011 2 Comments
Bamboo Blade is a 2004 seinen sports manga written by Masahiro Totsuka about kendo, a modern sport based off of samurai swordsmanship and kenjutsu. This manga keeps a good balance of comedy, drama, romance, and action along with a light-hearted and humorous plot and a great art style that is funny and powerful. This manga can also serve as great inspiration to young readers with the themes that it holds.
Bamboo Blade tells the story of a group of young high school kids who all love one thing the most; kendo. Toraji Ishida, the advisor for the kendo club, is running low on money and pretty much everything else he needs for living. When he makes a bet for a lifetime supply of sushi with his friend who also advises a kendo club, Ishida forms a team of kendo members to face off with his friend’s team. Of the team of seven students that Ishida sets up, the assumed main character is Tamaki Kawazoe, a young, small and soft-spoken kendo prodigy with no resolve. Upon joining the team, Tamaki makes friends with the rest of the team and teaches them everything she knows about kendo and prepares for whatever challenges they may face as the kendo team of Muroe High. The passion, motivation, determination and trials of all the students are what make up Bamboo Blade.
The characters are what make the manga so enjoyable. The cast is a unique variety of different kids of people with their own strengths and personality. The energy that they give off makes the manga enjoyable and makes you want to see more of them. The best part about them is the comedy that they present, and with each of them having distinguished personalities, there’s a lot of it. Each character has something about them that is applicable to the themes of the story. For example, Azuma is a quirky girl who is unfortunately not smart. Her grades are extremely poor and is unable to pick them up. Through practicing kendo, her concentration and thinking is improved, and her grades dramatically increase. Azuma’s determination to improve herself is also emphasized in the manga.
The main conflict of the story starts from, essentially, a silly and comedic premise caused by Ishida; making a kendo team because of a bet over a lifetime supply of sushi. But underneath the story, Bamboo Blade carries the themes of maturity, coming-of-age, adulthood, determination, and the driving force that allows humans to do whatever it is they do; motivation. The characters of the story, primarily Tamaki Kawazoe, realizes the spiritual and mental discipline that comes along with practicing kendo. As students, the kendo team learns what it means to grow up and what it takes to be mature. The adults, more specifically Ishida, learn what it means to be an adult and how they influence the youth around them. In general, all the characters come to a realization of the determination that they have to do kendo, and what inspires them to do so. These themes are very easy to relate to, and is handled well in the manga.
The art style of Bamboo Blade is astounding. The character designs are unique and attractive. The backgrounds are pretty good, but the strongest part of the art is the kendo scenes. Seeing the shinai clash, or the rushing movement of the characters are portrayed dramatically and flashy. For a large portion of the manga, the characters are drawn in a super-deformed way purely for comedy purposes. They’re cute and funny to see, and they make the manga just a little bit more bright and energetic than it already is.
Overall, Bamboo Blade is a great manga made up of drama, comedy, and its own sort of action. It’s very entertaining and has a high energy that keeps you interested all throughout with a large cast and a story that can inspire and entertain many who read it.