kendo + aikido + high school = kurogane?

I randomly found this newer manga today, and quite like it. I’ve been drawn to a lot of sports manga for less mainstream sports (Hikaru no Go, Bamboo Blade, Chihayafuru), so this one has definitely earned a spot in my list as well. In fact, the setting for Kurogane is extremely similar to Hikaru no Go’s. Kurogane is about a high school boy, Kurogane Hiroto, who has extremely good vision and processing of visual information… but he has a very weak body. One day, he is attacked by the ghost of a kendo master, Toujou Sayuri, and is able to dodge her attack due to his vision. Taking a liking to him, the ghost decides to name him the successor to her kendo style, which is now lost in the modern world. Hiroto is slowly drawn into the passion for kendo people around him have, and is also a natural talent of Sayuri’s style, which uses the same tenets as aikido: reading the opponents’ movements, and using the attacker’s strength against him.

While it’s not an easy story to summarize in few words, I think the potential for development in this series is phenomenal. By establishing clear weaknesses on the main character that cannot be easily or readily overcome, but also giving him an ability, the allowed creative space makes for good plot as long as the author is able to exploit the setting. As soon as he runs out of good ideas, rather than relying on other plot devices to spice things up, he can change the handicap slightly by letting the hero overcome his weakness by a small margin, which opens up the plot more naturally than new characters or random events can. The artwork is a bit bland, but the character designs are distinct, and certain panels are fantastic, like this tsuki from chapter 1, and some of the scenes with Sayuri in ghost form. I’m looking forward to this series and hope it can last long enough for the author to really develop things!

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