Hiroki Endo’s MMA-manga continues on in its own appealingly low-key fashion. After the (perhaps unsurprising) finish to Maki’s match from the previous volume the focus shifts back to Meguru and his ongoing struggle to get better. While he’s slowly developing his technique and refining his ability to copy moves on the fly from others, he still lacks the strength needed to compete with tougher opponents. Much of vol. 3 focuses on Meguru’s growth as a grappler within the title’s grounded aesthetic. I think this approach for a fighting manga is still pretty novel even though I’ll admit that some might find mangaka Hiroki Endo’s approach just a little dull. Endo does spice things up a bit with some goofy humor, mostly from the introduction of skilled judo practitioner Momo Aikawa, which is appreciated.
The really interesting stuff takes place between what I’ve described above as we get to see what Meguru’s old (former?) friend Takashi gets up to when he’s not training or fighting. After his latest fight, he meets up with his sugar mama, Miyuki, who has a personal request. One of her former hostesses fell in with a low-class yakuza thug and wound up in the hospital after said thug beat her really bad one day. Miyuki wants this guy to be taught a lesson, and Takashi turns her down only to find out later that one of his co-workers from the bar he waiters at has taken the job in the hopes of getting in good with the local gang.
This leads to some, how shall we say, real-world applications of the fighting techniques that Takashi has been utilizing in the ring. It’s a brutally efficient sequence that showcases not only the young man’s skills, but the theory behind their application as well. I found it easy to appreciate this thoughtful approach along with the interesting twist where Takashi finds out there was more going on than he was aware of. This thread is also further evidence that the mangaka isn’t afraid to bring in more complex subject matter than we’re used to seeing in fighting manga, which is also appreciated. So if you’re like me and want to see more of this, it’s best you go out and buy a copy to download right now. Kodansha hasn’t solicited any more volumes of this series yet, and it would really suck if ANOTHER of Endo’s manga wound up being unfinished out here.