As a fan of anime in Canada there weren’t that many shows on TV at any given time. Sure we had YTV airing the occasional good anime (i.e. Gundam Wing, Witch Hunter Robin, Death Note so on) but aside from that we had to watch the American based 4kids-programming block, and their…interesting localization’s versions’ of shows. Which brings us to today’s topic Ultimate Muscle.
As you might know I’m a fan of wrestling (see half of my blog) and this show features just that, half naked sweaty dudes grabbing each other in a small surface (ah yeah).
The series was based upon a manga created by Yudetamago (the team of Takashi Shimada and Yoshinori Nakai), which was originally published in Weekly Playboy magazine (not that Playboy). The story picks up after the events of their other anime called Kinnikuman. Both series follow a very similar idea; a hero has to defend the world by beating up bad guys in a wrestling match (This is the perfect premise for a WWE NXT reboot).
This series features the son of the Kinnikuman hero; King Muscle, Kid Muscle (oh how cleaver) as he turns from a spoiled brat to earth’s mightiest hero (step aside Avengers a sixteen year old prince with a mask is here). He’s not alone in his fight as he has a small group of friends that fill out his stable; the obligatory “I’m too old for this sh*t” trainer Alexandria Meat (that’s really his name), Terry the Kid the obligatory American stereotype, Wally Tusket a anthropomorphic Walrus and Dik-Dik Van-Dik a Tanzanian wreslter who dresses like a gazelle and has nothing to do with Dick Van Dyke other than the name.
The stable of young wrestlers have their hands full as the have to feud with such heel factions as; the dMp a NWO rip off lead by Kevin Mask (get it) and his team which include; a giant walking and talking cell phone from Hong Long and a fighter who has a dinosaur as his arm (Sadly it’s not Megatron).
Or the Kajiba no Kuso Djikara Challenge that featured a living forklift truck.
Suddenly the Spirit Squad doesn’t seem that bad.
So with a premise like that you would think that I love this show…I don’t. Well to be fair, I did at first. The oddball humor and references to wrestlers was cool at first, but I remember getting bored, not by the action but by the exposition.
The show would often cut from wrestling to people explaining the plot; it felt like WCW written by Vince Russo. Lots of talking and plot exposition but very little when it comes to in ring content.
Despite the long boring exposition the show has some amazing over the top wrestling moves. The moves generally involved a wrestler jumping about fifty feet in the air and slamming the opponent on their head or ramming their head into their enemies back at lighting speed…or farting.
Truly the Japanese are masters at comedy. Although it’s worked for Natalya.
One of the other issues with the show came from its censorship. While the manga was edited by Viz Media it took out the nudity and removing most of the swearing, the 4Kids edits were smaller, but as usual, dumber.
The main example was 4Kids having all of the Kanji (Japanese writing) remove from all of the characters heads (aside from Kid Muscle and his father) because they thought kids would write on there heads with markers. I know kids are stupid, but come on they’re not that stupid.
While the series had its moments, overall like many of the 4Kids titles, it had no real substance. Much like WCW written by Vince Russo; the action in the ring wasn’t bad, we just spent too much time out of it.