Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy
(from the official website) There's a new kid in town...Kid Muscle. His unannounced arrival on Earth comes conspicuously close to the legendary Muscle League Champions' embarrassing defeat at the hand of the dMp, a devious new breed of super-evil wrestling villains.
Has the Muscle League recruited King Muscle's own son to reinvigorate their falling fortunes? Or will they enlist and train a whole new generation of heroes to take on the diabolical dMp and save the planet? These kinds of rumors are running rampant in the wrestling world, but before anyone has a chance to make sense of the situation, the dMp dispatches the gargantuan Addverarious to shut down Kid Muscle before he can even flex his pecs!
With Meat, his father's trusty trainer, right there at Kid Muscle's side, there may just be hope...especially if the protege can pull a ploy from his papa's playbook: The Butt Buster!
And yes, this series is exactly as goofy and chaotic as the synopsis implies. But then, considering that this is a dead-on parody of the world of Sports Entertainment, it shouldn't be any other way.
I guess I should air a dirty little secret that I've held for years before I continue with this review: I'm a closet wrestling fan. You could never get me to admit it to anyone, and publicly I would decry wrestling as entertainment for brain-dead morons, but all the while I was sneak reading wrestling magazines and watching the TV matches when no one was around. Looking back, it was rather silly that I hid my enjoyment for wrestling, but being a teenage girl obsessed with her image, well...'cool girls just aren't wrestling fans'.
Nowadays, I don't follow the shows, but I do know a bit of what is going on thanks to friends who do still actively follow WWE and its ilk, occasionally watching SmackDown if I happen to be over at their house and it's on. As a result, I'm able to appreciate Ultimate Muscle for what it really is: a parody, and a surprisingly well-done one, to boot.
The show is loaded with in-jokes and references to actual professional wrestlers, be they Japanese, American, or Mexican. Kid Muscle's mask is a reference to a popular Japanese wrestler, and a Japanese anime icon in his own right. (Kinnikuman has been a long running show on Japanese TV.) Terry Kenyon is an homage to the Terry family, whose sons have been in professional wrestling for generations. Even the rival faction, the dMp, is a direct take on the N.W.O., one of the most notorious collections of heels ever assembled in WCW (before they got assimilated into the WWE). The creators really did their homework on this series.
The characters are also surprisingly funny, and in their own disgusting way, charming. Kid Muscle is dumb as a brick, loves to show off, and finds gross-out toilet humor funny. He is also an absolute riot to watch. His trainer/father figure Meat is cranky and foul-tempered, but he keeps Kid in line, and is just as put off by Kid's gross antics as any parent (or prudent person) would be. The villains are also equally corny in their own right, and never come off as truly menacing, but you love to hate them.
The music is brash and annoying, just like it should be. The animation is crisp and well-done, and the wrestling action is appropriately over the top. It has a lot of the DragonBall Z style of action storytelling, but it doesn't drag the battles out over a dozen episodes. The character designs are very clean and appealing, using a bright color palette that makes the characters appear even more flamboyant than they already are. While I've not had the chance to see the show in Japanese, the English version is competent, with well-done voice acting.
Overall, Ultimate Muscle is the best thing about the Fox Box anthology. It's not socially or morally redeeming by any stretch of the imagination, and it's not going to win any children's awards for excellence anytime in the near future, but it is laugh out loud funny. There are too few shows that revel in their inherent goofiness as much as Ultimate Muscle, and it looks like I have another guilty pleasure.
Recommended Audience: The TV rating is Y7, and that's appropriate. There is lots of comic violence, toilet humor, name-calling and other crude events, but it's not nearly on the level as actual professional wrestling.
Version(s) Viewed: Broadcast airing, English dub
Review Status: Partial (6/26)
Ultimate Muscle: The Kinnikuman Legacy © 2002 Toei / Yudetamago
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