In my opinion one of the best things about the old Shounen Jump manga Kinnikuman was that it allowed kids to submit their own designs for wrestlers with the possibility of their characters appearing in the actual comic. Not only that, some of those submissions became full-on major characters in the story of Kinnikuman. Even if they were sometimes just Hulk Hogan in a mask, it provided a level of interaction with the readers and imbued the story with a greater amount of childhood imagination. I wrote a small review a while back, in case you’re curious about what the series is ctually like.
In 1999 though, Kinnikuman received a sequel, Kinnikuman II: Second Generation, which is still running today Known in the US as Ultimate Muscle, the big difference between Kinnikuman II and the original was that instead of targeting kids, the new series targets the kids who grew up loving Kinnikuman who were now adults, much like the relationship between Hokuto no Ken and Souten no Ken. Shounen manga’s changed in the last 20 years, and a series like Kinnikuman would not have the easiest time in this new era of Shounen.
The sequel receives submissions for wrestler designs just like the original manga, only instead of it being from Tanaka Hiroshi Age 11, it’s now Tanaka Hiroshi Age 27, which has me picturing a salaryman on the train or in a board meeting eagerly sketching out a Choujin Wrestler on a notebook lying against his briefcase. He’ll be sitting there as the company president is detailing their new financial plan, drawing the buzz saw that comes out of the wrestler’s legs.
“Tanaka! Are you paying attention?”
“Yes sir, I’m just…taking notes.”
“Oh…very well then. Good job, keep it up.”
Tanaka then sits down and adds some electricity lines to his character’s muscles, for extra power.