As I was perusing the manga aisle of my local Borders, I noticed a particular book whose cover sparked my interest. On a total whim, I purchased the book without a second thought. The title of the book seemed innocuous enough - Bamboo Blade. Gleaning what I could off of the back cover synopsis, I dove in and found myself pleasantly surprised. The book goes to show you that in the multi-faceted world of manga, almost anything can be portrayed as a life or death struggle, whether it be a collectible card game, basketball, or in Bamboo Blade’s case, kendo.
The title follows the exploits of Kojiro Ishida, an extremely broke high school kendo instructor. Over dinner with an old friend, Kojiro makes a bet on a practice meet between the all-girl teams of their respective schools. The prize for said bet is a years worth of free sushi. That being all the incentive necessary, Kojiro proceeds in forming his team. Unfortunately, the task of recruiting able participants proves to be more difficult than Kojiro originally anticipated…until he discovers Tamaki Kawazoe; a small, soft-spoken girl with an extreme penchant for sword fighting.
This being the first volume, the story tends to follow the “assemblance of motley crew” theme pretty well. Not to say that it’s a bad thing. I mean in the end, it’s just kendo. Rather than focusing on epic battle sequences (though there are a few), the book plays up the comedy and absurdness of Kojiro’s bet and the amount of effort he puts into winning a years worth of free food.
The only other standout of this book is, of course, Tamaki. Being the daughter of a kendo instructor, she has had the teachings and premises of the sport instilled in her since childhood. To her, kendo has always been a part of her life, not as an activity, but as a chore. It’s pretty obvious where she’s going to end up as the series progresses, but it will be interesting nonetheless to see Tama-chan begin to come out of her shell.
Not much else to say about the volume…at least not at this point. To my knowledge, there has been an anime based on this series. Haven’t seen it, but I do plan to check it out eventually. All in all, this book is a good read. I’d recommend it if you’re hard up for a good laugh or if you find yourself a little tired of the same old do-or-die, ‘main character powering up to save the world’ manga.
After all…it’s just kendo.