Shonen Jump and Viz Media have debuted a new manga by Kawada titled Martial Master Asumi. This is the second ongoing series by Kawada after Hinomaru Sumo finished its five year run at 250 chapters, ending in 2019. Now Kawada appears to continue working in the combat sports world with Martial Master Asumi that Shonen Jump promoted as “A fraidy-cat high schooler who hates fighting has a secret martial arts background!” How does the first chapter turn out? Find out with our review of Martial Master Asumi Chapter 1 – Round 1: MMA.
Writer and Artist: Kawada
Nito Asumi is a 16 year-old who helps his older sister and mom take care of their grandfather suffering from dementia after his father being killed in a car accident. At school Nito, along with his friend Yuya Fuchida, deals with bullies at school.
After being saved by Nao Okiba from his bullies Nito joins Yuya to attend Yoshi’s MMA Gym, where Nao trains. During their first training session Yuya picks things up while Nito is too nervous to do things correctly.
On his way home Nito is confronted by his bullies. Having enough of his bullies Nito zones out and uses the training his grandfather gave him to defeat his bullies. When he is about to break the lead bully’s arm Nao shows up to stop Nito and runs off the bullies.
Nao gets excited and wants to spar with Nito at her gym but Nito runs off.
At his grandfather’s gym Nito’s grandad knows his grandson got into a fight and asks if it felt good. Nito says it did a little. End of chapter.
Kawada does everything to get Martial Master Asumi off to a good start. This first chapter wasn’t about setting up the main conflict for the series. Instead, Martial Master Asumi Chapter 1 was focused on just getting the reader to buy into our lead character and his two friends.
There is a lot of Peter Parker in the way Nito Asumi is set up throughout Martial Master Asumi. You get his plight and how his unfortunate family circumstances has made him into who he is. In this you get to care about both Nito and his older sister Rei Asumi, who have taken on helping take care of their grandfather as their mother is busy with work.
This was a particular strong element for Martial Master Asumi as Rei, even only appearing in a few pages, is one of the best characters in this chapter. She is the rock that is keeping her family together as their mother is busy with work and keeping the family financially stable. We see this with how Nito and Rei’s younger siblings are able to act more or less how kids their age would. Establishing this family dynamic does show that at least at home Nito has a support system.
This family dynamic makes why Nito hates conflict and gets nervous around violence something that is impactful. As we see in the flashback to seven years ago, Nito clearly looked up to his father and him passing away had a severe impact on Nito’s outlook on life. How this even became a factor in Nito’s grandfather’s dealing with dementia in the present was tough to read. Its an emotional gut punch that gets you to understand where Nito starts the series.
Which makes the fact that for how much Nito doesn’t believe in himself that all the training he did when he was younger still exists on an instinctual level. We see that at the end of the chapter where Nito completely zones out when his bullies push him too far. The trigger being the bullies demanding Nito help them harm his friend, Yuya Fuchida, works well to utilize the “power of friendship” mantra we see in manga.
Both Yuya Fuchida and Nao Okiba are equally established as the two other characters we will follow in Martial Master Asumi. Yuya was established more as the typical best friend. It is Nao who we see Kawada spend the most time of the two developing. Her love for MMA radiates off every panel she appears in. That being the only career path she is seeking does position her to be more on a co-lead spot as we see what her MMA journey is alongside Nito.
Martial Master Asumi Chapter 1 delivers a good start to the newest Shonen Jump series. Everything that shonen manga fans are looking for from a manga is here. If you are into combat manga this will be a good one to reading from the start.
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10