Ep. 69: All-Rounder Meguru Vols. 1 & 7, by Hiroki Endo
This week, the Mangasplaining Crew finally get to one of David and Deb’s fave fighting manga, Hiroki Endo’s All-Rounder Meguru! In this unique episode, the team reads the first volume of the MMA manga, then skips to volume 7 to read a volume based on female fighters! Make sure not to tap-out of this one!
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IN THIS EPISODE:
0:00 All-Rounder Meguru volumes 1 & 7
1:03:29 THE BREAK!
1:06:30 Shout-outs! A manga, a book about making/editing comics and two TV shows
Manga Must-Reads: All-Rounder Meguru Volumes 1 & 7
By Hiroki Endo
Production Staff: Hirofumi Niihara and Kazukiyo Yamamoto
Translation by Adam Hirsch
Lettering by Daniel Park
Editing by Sarah Tilson
Published by Kodansha (Digital only)
Audio editing by David Brothers. Show notes by Deb Aoki and Christopher Woodrow-Butcher
Welcome to a special full-episode Manga Must-Reads, featuring All-Rounder Meguru Volumes 1 & 7, brought to you by ComiXology. With ComiXology Unlimited, you get access to over 6,000 manga titles, including new, classic and undiscovered gems that you can read online, anytime, including the manga that we’ll be discussing today!
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BEFORE WE GET STARTED
[Christopher:] Hey there, Deb took on the lead writing duties this week while I attended to some personal stuff. So please read this in her ‘voice,’ and my comments will be prefaced with my name. Thanks so much, Deb!
About Hiroki Endo
There’s not much biographical information about HIroki Endo in English… but here’s what we could dig up:
Born in 1970 in Akita Prefecture, Japan, and attended Musashino Art University in Tokyo (alma mater of other notable creators, including anime director/manga artist Satoshi Kon (Millennium Actress), manga artist Yellow Tanabe (Kekkaishi) and Paru Itagaki (Beastars). While attending art school, he won the Afternoon Autumn Four Seasons Award for “Crows, Girls and Yakuza” in 1995, then later won the Fours Seasons Grand Prize in 1996 for his short story “I’m Sure She’s a Cute Girl.” (Both stories featured in Tapenshu vol. 1). There isn’t much by way of interviews or biographical information in English about Endo, but we do know that he grew up in Tohoku, which maybe explains his strong point-of-view on Tohoku recovery after the 3/11 earthquake/tsunami that you see in All-Rounder Meguru.
After All-Rounder Meguru, Endo’s next manga series was the the dark fantasy/action series Soft Metal Vampire (2016-2019). Go read the first chapter in Japanese on Kodansha’s Afternoon website.
His current series is a shonen(!) manga fantasy/sci-fi/action story, Planet of Fools (Gusha no Hoshi) (2019-) that is currently serialized in Kodansha’s Monthly Shonen Magazine (now up to volume 8, ongoing). Get a taste of the action-packed first chapter (in Japanese) at Kodansha’s Monthly Shonen Magazine website.
Want more Hiroki Endo manga? He also has a short story in the Parasyte tribute manga anthology collection, Neo Parasyte m.
1:00 All-Rounder Meguru was serialized in Evening, a bi-weekly seinen manga magazine published by Kodansha. All-Rounder Meguru ran in the magazine from 2008 to 2016, and all 19 volumes are available from Kodansha as a digital-only release (to date, print is not out of the question if more people buy/read this manga. Just sayin’).
Here’s the description of the series, courtesy of Kodansha:
High schooler and budding shooto mixed martial arts fighter, Meguru Takayanagi, reunites with his old friend from grade school, Takashi Segawa, in the ring for the first time in seven years. However, while the two used to be good friends, due to the difference in their upbringings, Takashi now sees Meguru as an enemy. Without a moment of joy to commemorate their reunion, the old friends’ match begins … Eden‘s own Hiroki Endo brings you a new tale of Shooto, MMA, and youth!-Kodansha website
2:20 Shooto is defined as a ‘hybrid martial art’ that “focuses on striking, stand-up grappling and ground fighting.” It’s a distinct “fighting system” that has its own governing body/organization with its own pro and amateur tournaments.
Go check out the Shooto Professional MMA Association Japan website: www.shooto-mma.com, and watch videos of Shooto fighting matches on their YouTube channel, like this one:
8:30 Maki, the female fighter / tsundere character of this series kind of sucks. Chris isn’t a fan of her habit of kicking Meguru, while Deb thinks it’s more of an “awkward-school girl who’s too strong/doesn’t know how to deal with her feelings” kind of thing. Anyway, you decide:
[Christopher:] Aside from being just a miserable person, it just seems like a lazy anime trope. IMHO. I think I probably made my point (and then some) during the podcast.
9:00 Meanwhile, Meguru’s childhood friend / main rival, Takashi is a jerk. Here he is after seeing Meguru again after many years apart, when the two are pitted each other in their first match against each other. Brrrrr….
[Christopher:] We sorted this out later, but I actually meant Meguru’s rival in the dojo, Yudai Kitamura, who is just an asshole for 9 volumes, and gets the tiniest amount of characterization (when he reflects on his brother’s judo career in volume 7) that’s meant to redeem him.
10:00 Hiroki Endo’s most well-known manga series in English is Eden: It’s an Endless World. This 18-volume science fiction series, originally published from 1997-2008 in Afternoon, a monthly seinen manga magazine from Kodansha. It’s published in English by Dark Horse, but it’s incomplete, with the last Dark Horse release, volume 14 published in 2014. Mention the words “new manga licenses from Dark Horse” on social media and at least one person will whimper, “but what about Eden…?”
Dark Horse’s description of Eden: It’s an Endless World volume 1
Eden is both a brilliant love song to the post-apocalyptic survival genre and the beginning of a deep exploration on man’s role in the natural order. In the near future, a large portion of humanity is wiped out by a brutal, new virus that hardens the skin while dissolving internal organs. Those who aren’t immune are either severely crippled or allowed to live with cybernetically enhanced bodies. Taking advantage of a world in chaos, a paramilitary force known as the Propater topples the United Nations and seeks world domination. Elijah, a young survivor searching for his mother, travels towards the Andes Mountains with an artificially intelligent combat robot. When he encounters a group of anti-Propater freedom fighters, a maelstrom of unique characters unfolds. Graphic, cyberpunk, and philosophical, Eden is a place where endearing heroes face a constant struggle for survival and violent surprises wait around every corner!-Dark Horse website
All 18 volumes of Eden were published in French, and it recently got a new “perfect edition” release from Panini with a larger trim size, new translation and unflipped artwork.
Besides Eden: It’s an Endless World, Dark Horse published two volumes of Hiroki Endo’s short stories, Tapenshu in 2007. (“Tapenshu” just means “short stories” in English, in case you’re wondering.) Both are out of print, and while not impossible to find on the secondary market, it won’t be a cheap find, unless you’re lucky.
Here’s the description of Tapenshsu vol 1:
A disfigured misfit befriends a doomed yakuza outcast, a group of school kids fail to see the anger that’s about to boil over from one of their own, and members of an experimental theatre troupe embark on a project that will test both their friendships and the group’s grasp on reality.-Dark Horse
And the description of Tapenshu vol. 2:
In Tanpenshu volume two, Hiroki Endo passionately explores the many problems and social difficulties that people face, while growing up and while seeking to find their roles in a violent, precarious world. In “Hang,” a short and steamy science fiction romp, two lovers try to look beyond a twisted, dysfunctional family life to strengthen the ties that bind them together. In other stories, a struggling art student tries to survive an early midlife crisis and his feelings towards high school girls and androids, a young painter with yakuza connections and sick fantasies struggles to balance his personal passions with his family’s honor, and the two teenagers in Endo’s delightfully perverted “Boys Don’t Cry” vignette lament their shortcomings.-Dark Horse
[Christopher:] I have to admit it’s be a very long time since I’ve read Tanpenshu, but it really was one of my favourite manga, once-upon-a-time. It’s sort of a truism that short-story collections sell much worse than fully narrative books, especially when it comes to manga… and I think this was a victim of that. Maybe Dark Horse will get digital rights one day so I can read it again and see if it holds up? Or maybe I’ll cross my fingers AND toes for a two-volume bind-up. 🙂
13:45 [Christopher:] Did I successfully cover for the fact that I haven’t read Haikyuu?
[Deb:] Aw man, really? I’m going to have to pick this volleyball manga for us to read at some point. The complete 45-volume series is available in print and digital from VIZ Media now. If you have a Shonen Jump subscription, you can read the whole thing online.
17:00 [Christopher:] I do like that Endo introduces some complexity in the ‘who to root for’ question, when it comes to Maki losing the match but ‘winning’ the fight. It’s not just basic anime trope scriptwriting, the story does go out of its way to point out she sucks. Lol.
18:45 Momoko vs. giant Canadian Kate Rampling. Chip’s dream match!
This match-up reminded me of Yawara! by Naoki Urasawa. In this sports manga series, Japanese judo prodigy Yawara is also pitted against Jody Rockwell, a much larger, Canadian opponent. The Yawara! anime is available, but the manga has not gotten an official English release. (it’s available in French, though).
[Christopher:] Jody Rockwell? Kate Rampling? I wonder if that’s a direct homage?
20:02 Sasuke / Naruto, Takashi / Meguru… “I always hated that guy.”
24:50 [Deb:] There have been Beatles manga, most famously Boku wa Beatles, which we talked about in the show notes for Blue Giant, but actually there HAVEN’T been a lot of Beatles manga.
There are references to the Beatles in K-On (the manga series by kakifly about 4 high school girls who start a band – it’s available from Yen Press). Here’s an example:
Naoki Urasawa is also a big Beatles fan, and did this ‘what if’ illustration for a music magazine, imagining what a Beatles reunion might look like in 2016:
26:30 [Christopher:] We talk extensively here about the Hajime no Ippo manga exhibit we saw in Shibuya back in 2019.
27:11 Declan Shalvey drawing “thick” characters – here’s a taste of what we meant by this reference:
27:30 Here’s some examples of how Endo shows action in panels that are straight/right-angled squares/rectangles, not diagonal / slanted shapes, using speed lines and how he places the characters, composes the action within the panel.
28:50 Volume 7, page 58 – that “whoosh” page sequence.
It’s fascinating to compare it to some of George Morikawa’s style of depicting boxing action in Hajime no Ippo, where he uses square panels, but he uses different styles of sound effects and breaks through the panel borders to convey impact/action.
30:30 Jack Davis versus John Byrne:
31:40 From All-Rounder Meguru volume 7, page 40, here’s the drawing of Aya we’re talking about… if you shaved her head, her forehead would come too far. Why? probably not enough under-drawing…?
32:30 Here’s an example of the “burnt abs rendering” that Chip mentions. Endo uses hatching to show abs and muscles on his characters instead of single lines as we see in other manga/comics depictions of the same thing. Compare it with this panel from Jujutsu Kaisen, for example.
33:41 The panty shot joke! The set-up…
And later in the same chapter… the payoff!
Also in this chapter, Meguru enjoys a post-bath beverage at home, sans underwear. Then later in the chapter, his sister does the same thing, albeit with underwear. “Have some decency, sis!”
34:30 Junior boxer Ippo is famously endowed, and his gym mates never hesitate to make fun of his wang.
35:10 Shojo Fight shout-out on page 102 in All-Rounder Meguru vol. 7
36:10 Good comics! Fun with word balloons
In All-Rounder Meguru Vol 7, page 129 as Yudai scolds Momoko, his word balloons push her into the panel border. Later, on page 188, Yudai does it again, this time to Meguru.
Volume 1 page 149 – word balloons stabbing
From All-Rounder Meguru volume 12, another fun play on word balloons, as Maki denies that she has a crush on Meguru.
37:15 He read Volume 8! Chip almost never reads ahead.
When Momoko vows to win all of these matches and tells Yudai to come to watch, he finds himself more invested in her matches. But in Volume 8, Maki tells him…
38:25 [Christopher:] My go-to tsundere is Asuka from Evangelion… except I actually totally relate to and sympathize with Asuka. She’s a 14-year old being tasked to save the world, and like the other characters, she’s going through intense physical and emotional trauma to get to the point when we first meet her in the story.
Asuka behaving like a shitty bully to Shinji? Totally makes sense in context of her story, as does Shinji being so hopelessly depressed and overwhelmed given his complicated relationship with his stern, cold father. Different people react differently to trauma, and the extremity of the reaction makes perfect sense.
[Deb:] To sum up the difference between Asuka and Shinji from Evangelion, refer to this diagram drawn by Cam Marshall that I found via Twitter:
40:00 Recessions and fighting spirit? Current events find their way into the pages of All-Rounder Meguru:
Yudai’s backstory weaves in the 3/11 disaster and judo deaths
44:40 [Christopher:] Mixed martial arts is f**king gay.
46:10 [Deb:] Speaking of “Mixed Martial Arts is f**king gay,” here’s the first page from the drunken party scene at the inn in Tohoku. It’s in All-Rounder Meguru vol 12, and it just goes more off the hook from here…
52:40 Ranma in the Dubs, Lum in the Subs…
55:00 “ Rice in the streets, Rampling in the Sheets”
[Deb:] So the “Rice” and “Rampling” that we’re referring to here is author Anne Rice (Interview with a Vampire), and her nom de plume, Anne Rampling. Under this name, she wrote Exit to Eden, a story about an island where “no aspect of sexual pleasure is taboo.” (which brings to mind two other manga about sexy island adventures that we talked about in previous episodes, The Strange Tale of Panorama Island and Birds of Shangri-La.) She also wrote some very racy/BDSM erotica based on the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty under the name A.N. Roquelaure, in case you’re curious.
56:15 Some good diagramming of fighting moves and why they’re effective, using mannequins as explainers.
56:30 Regarding Giant Killing by Masaya Tsunamoto and Tsujitomo (Kodansha):
[Deb:] My love for this sports manga is probably bordering on ridiculous, given how much I don’t know about soccer. I appreciate Giant Killing’s mix of humor and sports action and that it’s not just a sports manga about high school dreams. It’s about an underdog pro team fighting against stronger, richer teams. It also includes some real talk about what it’s like to be a pro athlete in their 20s – 30s as they deal with the inescapable fact that they will get older, they might get injured, and they pretty much won’t be able to play at the level they’re playing now forever. That makes it sound grim, but that aspect of the story is maybe only 20% of it – most of it is just fun, character-driven sports action. I love it.
There’s 31 volumes of Giant Killing available as digital-only releases from Kodansha. If you want to get a taste of it, Azuki has 117 chapters up now.
58:20 Takashi’s uncle’s chauffeur/bodyguard was a former pro boxer… and he ends up being Takashi’s coach/mentor.
Later, he makes an interesting observation about the difference between the life / career of a boxer and someone who practices martial arts, like judo, jiu jitsu, karate and so on…
1:01:30 And an added bonus of taking up martial arts? “All your shirts fit differently now.”
Check out All-Rounder Meguru on ComiXology. If you’re new to ComiXology Unlimited, give it a try with a 30-day free trial.
1:03:29 THE BREAK!
DEB: shouts out the latest volume of Mangasplaining fave A Bride’s Story vol. 13 by Kaoru Mori:
In one story in this volume, Rostem returns to visit his friend the woodcarver and the little boy gets his first lesson from the craftsman, and also a very stern warning. It’s available now from Yen Press (print/digital), and in case you missed it, check out episode 20, featuring A Bride’s Story vol. 1!
1:07:05 Deb also shouts out Filth & Grammar by Shelley Bond (Off Register Press) an illustrated guide to editing comics and being a comics editor. Also, hooray! you can buy print or digital versions of this book now, directly from Off Register Press: www.offregister.press/store
1:09:30 CHIP: shouts out Barry, which is now on its 3rd season on HBO:
1:10:10 DAVID: mentions M*A*S*H
and yes, there are podcasts about M*A*S*H:
So I guess we don’t need to start one?
Thanks so much for listening! Please support your local comic and manga specialty shop when purchasing these books, and you can find one near you at comicshoplocator.com. You can also check your local library for print and digital lending options, they have TONS of manga! Also, check us out at MangasplainingExtra.com — we’ve got some cool new manga series that we’re hoping to announce very soon. Finally, thanks to D.A.D.S. for their musical accompaniment this episode.
If someone needs more badass lady fighters, I recommend Teppuu. The action is super clean and the mangaka definitely studied mma.
I can’t believe this was episode 69 and not the episode on MASSIVE! At least Chip saved the day by regaling us with some erotic exploits.
Another great episode! Always love when there’s one host who finds the work not to their liking. It really stimulates the discussion. This episode reminded me I need to give more sports manga a try, but like Christopher, I fear the characters tropes might be my undoing. At the risk of undermining those tropes, however, I can speak from personal experience that almost no one on my high school soccer team got along. We were definitely not united by our love for the sport, which is probably why we lost all the time. 🙂
I loved this series! To me the best thing about it is how accurate and realistic the MMA techniques look on the page. Endo either trains MMA himself, is big fan of the sport or has done A LOT of research about it, it’s just impossible to get it so right otherwise.