Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy, known in Japan as Kinnikuman II (キン肉マンⅡ世 Kinnikuman Nisei?, lit. "Muscleman: Second Generation") (also written as 筋肉人II世 or 金肉人II世), is a manga and anime series made by Yoshinori Nakai and Takashi Shimada under the pen name Yudetamago (Japanese for 'Boiled Egg'). It is the sequel to the hit manga Kinnikuman that they started in 1979. The toy line of Kinnikuman was released in North America as M.U.S.C.L.E.. The name of Ultimate Muscle was chosen to connect the Americanized storyline of the M.U.S.C.L.E. toyline of the 1980s into the anime. Bandai also produced intermittently distributed toy tie-ins during the initial run of Ultimate Muscle.
Kinnikuman Nisei was first published in the Japanese men's magazine Weekly Playboy, aimed at the now grown-up fans of the original. Another manga aimed at children called Kinnikuman II-Sei: All Chōjin Dai Shingeki was published in V-Jump. The anime was first broadcast in Japan on TV Tokyo on January 1, 2002 for 51 episodes until its cancellation on December 25. The anime was broadcast in the United States in 2002 on the Fox Box (now known as 4Kids TV). The anime was more popular in the United States than Japan and is one of the few anime that had a second season made especially for the American market. Although the series ended afterward, the second season of Ultimate Muscle, titled Kinnikuman Second Generations Ultimate Muscle began airing in Japan on April 7, 2004 on TV Tokyo, but only 13 episodes were shown. The series resumed on January 4, 2006 as Kinnikuman Second Generations Ultimate Muscle 2. There are a total of 77 episodes of Ultimate Muscle and two movies based on the TV series. According to the forward for volume 25 of the manga, the 4Kids version of Kinnikuman Nisei aired in Japan, too.
The story is about Mantaro Muscle a.k.a. Kid Muscle (Mantaro Kinniku in the Japanese version), the spoiled son of a superhero wrestler. Mantaro comes from Muscle Planet. His family history is dedicated to wrestling. Mantaro's father, Suguru Muscle (a.k.a. Kinnikuman/King Muscle) , had entered almost every tournament to become a champion. But after 28 years of peace, the Seigi Choujins' (Muscle League) old time enemies regrouped and formed the dMp (Demon Manufacturing Plant, although this is never mentioned in the English dub. There, it is simply referred to as Destruction, Mayhem & Pain) and crashed landed at Mount Fuji. Time and the years without evil to fight have taken their toll on the old Muscle League, who are overwhelmed by these youthful and well-trained fighters. Realizing that they have lost their edge, the Seigi Chojin reopen the Hercules Factory, the training school for superheroes, and begin training a new generation of heroes to take on the dMp. Although unwilling, Mantaro (Kid Muscle) is one of the young heroes who takes part and ultimately defeats his father to prove his worthiness to graduate. He and the other new Seigi Choujin fight and defeat several members of the dMp and meet Kevin Mask, who quits the organization after seeing that they lack honor. They also battle Sunshine and his pupils, who destroy the dMp after developing a rekindled respect for the fighting spirit of the Seigi Choujins.
The manga continues with the New Generation Replacement Tournament, Mantaro's challenge to master his inherited potential (referred to as "Kajiba no Kuso Chikara" or "Burning Inner Strength", also called "The Fire"), the return of the Chojin Olympics, a fight against a group of evil villains called the Demon Seed, a small back story for Robin Mask and currently a Tag Team Tournament taking place in the past. While the manga opens as a fairly lighthearted and humorous (if violent) story, the later arcs - the No Respect and Demon Seed sagas in particular - take on a significantly darker flair, frequently dealing with issues of severe psychological trauma.
- Kinnikuman Nisei (2002)
- Opening Themes: "HUSTLE MUSCLE" by Yougo Kouno
- Closing Themes: "Ai no Muscle" (eps. 1-26) by The Permanents and "Koi no My Chop !!" (eps. 27-51) by Yumena Yokosuka
- Kinnikuman Nisei: Ultimate Muscle (2004)
- Kinnikuman Nisei: Ultimate Muscle 2 (2006)
- Opening Themes: "Trust yourself" by Takatori Hideaki
- Closing Themes: "Chikai no Tsuki" by Kagrra
New Generation Replacement Tournament
After being fed up with four of the New Generation (Kid Muscle, Terry Kenyon, Wally Tusket and Dik Dik Van Dik... a.k.a. Team AHO) slacking off, chairman Vance McMadd created a tournament where they would have to fight four rookies (Jeager, Scarface, Road Rage and Hydrazoa... a.k.a. Generation EX) for the right to be stationed in Japan. If all combatants from either side were eliminated, the other side would win, even if they did not make it to the finals. All of Team AHO was defeated in the first round except for Kid Muscle. Kid Muscle would make it to the finals against Scarface (now revealed to be Mars, part of the dMp) and win to keep himself and his friends stationed in Japan.
Chojin Olympics/Chojin Crown
The tournament which Kid Muscle reluctantly participates in. After going along with the obstacles (most of which were created to try and eliminate him), he qualified. The tournament featured Kid Muscle against Kevin Mask in the finals. Their fathers had faced each other in the finals many years before, Kid's father being the winner of that encounter. The outcome of the match has a bit of controversy surrounding it. In the original manga, Kevin Mask won the Chojin Crown. However, the anime had Kid Muscle come out as the victor.
The Viz manga uses the English anime names and was initially edited to be more in line with the North American anime release, while keeping a T+ (for ages 16 and up) rating. Viz got rid of the comical nudity by placing underwear or swimsuits on the characters and redrew any erections. Viz Media began toning down the editing of the manga in issue 14, preserving the clothed erections but still removing any nudity or harsh profanity. By issue 16, all illustrated censorship stopped, as the issue contained multiple erections and a multitude of female breasts.
The most extensive act of censorship and editing was on the English language version of the anime by 4Kids Entertainment. All the characters with kanji on their foreheads (save Mantaro) had these kanji digitally erased. Yudetamago were told that it was done because Americans were afraid their children would write on their foreheads with markers. Even all writing, text, and characters in both Japanese and English are all digitally removed throughout the show. After the anime was cancelled in Japan, Fox Broadcasting Company ordered a second season made for the American market and ordered Toei Animation not to draw the offending forehead kanji. This second season was later broadcast in Japan.
FUNimation Entertainment is the main DVD license for 4Kids dub of Ultimate Muscle. It released only the first four episodes of the edited TV version. No further official DVD sets were released, though a second DVD set compiling episodes 5-9 was announced. The second DVD set's production has not been confirmed.
- "Viz Aquires [sic] Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy". Anime News Network. December 2, 2003. Retrieved 2010-02-21.
- FoxBox Ultimate Muscle site from 2004
- Kinnikuman: Nisei Toei homepage (in Japanese)
- Kinnikuman: Nisei Toei homepage (in Japanese, 2002)
- Kinnikuman: Nisei Toei homepage (in Japanese, 2006)
- Kinnikuman Nisei: Ultimate Muscle 2 TV Tokyo homepage (in Japanese, 2006)
- Ultimate Muscle NES game[dead link]