Whenever a series gets cancelled you feel a little bad because it could have kept going and become the next Naruto. A series that everyone respects as one of the all time greats. I know that’s what I was thinking the whole time for many titles since if you ask me, a series that it good should just continue forever. Never end the series unless it’s actually bad. Now, this one may not have been super amazing or anything like that but it was pretty good and definitely should have lasted longer.
The series starts by explaining that the demons used to all be ruled by a single man named Kioh. He was a strong monster who kept everyone in check and under his rule things just worked out. Unfortunately he died under mysterious causes and so the group descended into a bunch of small gangs. In particular there are now 4 gangs that rule the world and they are all striving for power. We are then introduced to the main character Maruo.
Maruo is really obsessed with Shonen Jump and has read all of the big titles. He lives his life like he’s a protagonist and is bored because everyone’s too weak. That’s when he bumps into a girl named Urara who is being chased by a bunch of demonic yakuza. Maruo beats them up and decides to serve her as a Yakuza member. She is the daughter of Kioh and intends to destroy all of the demons and become the top family again. Maruo will help to the best of his ability because he really wants to get some good fights. Can he pull this off or is it game over?
So lets start off with some of the good parts here. The series has solid action. I enjoyed the action scenes here and the series has good art from the start. Usually you’d expect it to be a little rough around the edges but it holds up from the jump. At worst I would say some of the designs may not be all that memorable but you won’t have any trouble reading what’s happening in the scenes. It all just flows together really well.
I also thought the character cast was good. Perhaps a bit small but I think this would have ended up being a solid team. The manga moves rather quickly and it’s already getting a little high tier with the feats. There’s a lot to like here and while the manga delves into some darker subject matter, I wouldn’t say it goes too far. The idea of uniting all of the Yakuza gangs is also a classic. Just replace “Yakuza” with almost anything and you’ll see that it’s a classic kind of plot. Maruo and his friends need to be the best and it’s a tested formula.
So what happened, why did this series get cancelled? Well, I do think some of the world building elements may have been a little too much too soon. For example we learn about different kinds of ghosts here and how they can only stay alive through coins and belief. It’s hard to say which is more important but we know for a fact that demons turn into coins when they’re destroyed. The others can then use that to strengthen themselves. Belief somehow helps keep you tangible as well but it’s hard to say if this turns into more coins or not.
Otherwise, how does it help when you’re made of coins? The series goes on to show that demons exist in another realm and the coins help them get a physical form. That’s a little odd to buy into though, what is this other realm and are they always just floating around but invisible and intangible? As you can see, you can make sense of this whole thing if you make some assumptions and connect the dots but the series overcomplicates the issue a bit too much.
Especially because it’s honestly not that important. Just say that yokai are made out of money and when they die other demons use the money to get stronger. Boom, you’ve still got everything you need without big info dumps. Especially when a series is new you don’t have time to be throwing info at people like that. Still not a big enough issue for the series to have been cancelled though.
I suppose Maruo’s backstory was a bit grim with his having an abusive father and all but main characters have had worse. I was really surprised by this but it’s handled fairly well. It explains why Maruo got into manga and how he trained to become so strong. Usually you have the heroes training to fight some end of the world boss or something but here it was just so that he wouldn’t get absolutely crushed day in and day out. It was a pretty interesting change of pace there.
As a main character Maruo may not stand out a whole lot but he’s a good kid. He likes to fight and is always trying to get stronger. That’s already the most important step for a main character so he’s off to a very good start there. He may be a little too one note in how obsessed he is with Jump but I’m cool with it. You have to establish character traits early so I can see why he is this obsessed. I think it would calm down a bit as the series goes on. His physical strength was impressive and I always like a brawler fighting style.
Maruo is a loyal guy and doesn’t give up easy so I’ll always remember him as a pretty solid character. Then you have the heroine Urara who is good. She has mixed feelings about exactly why she wants to be at the top. In part it’s because she wants to bring honor back to the family name and in another way it’s also because she wants to find out the truth about what happened to her father. I’m sure there would ultimately be tons of twists about her father had the series kept going. Still, she did her best and tried to follow the rules the whole time. Things just didn’t work out for her.
She ultimately becomes a good character once she decides that her friends take priority over the revenge. At that point she was really making all of the right decisions and goes from being a shady boss to one who has found her priorities. Hopefully she’ll get a longer time limit on her super form eventually though because only being able to use it for a few minutes is pretty iffy. It would also be nice if she could fight at least a bit in base considering how powerful her father was. Perhaps as the series went on she would have gotten stronger.
So the first story arc has the heroes decide to find a weak gang to beat up so they can have a base of operations. They run into a demon named Ten who gladly invites them over to take out his mean boss. Maruo pulls this off easily enough and it works well as an introduction to show how strong he could be for a human. The series does give an explanation for this like every few thousand years a human is born with incredible power. I almost feel like you didn’t need an explanation for this but I suppose it’s better than nothing so that is still fine.
The villains here are mainly one shots aside from Ten who actually joins the team. I can’t say that I was particularly impressed with the guy though. He’s your classic coward type character who is afraid of everyone and can’t fight. That’s definitely not the kind of guy that you want to have on your squad. He gets one fight before the series ends and the whole thing is really cheesy. Ultimately he wouldn’t have done much to help the dynamic if the series had kept going on.
Then we get to the first big arc which introduces us to the leader of the strongest gang, Doppo. Doppo kidnaps Urara’s informant Hashihime and it’s clear that he plans to take her out for the count. She was a bit of a double agent which is always a super risky job. Maruo figures he can take this guy down since Shonen Jump heroes never lose. It’s a good way to show off one of the end game threats of the series and to have Maruo lose. The action was good and everything but I just had one big issue here.
You immediately realize that what will give Maruo some pep back in his step is that he’ll remember how leads can lose the first fight but then will win the rematch. The reason the plot is too contrived here is because Maruo was already established as a complete manga expert. There’s no way he would somehow forget that the heroes lose from time to time. DBZ is one of the series that he said he read and Goku lost his share of fights. So the author could and should have handled that part a lot better.
Hashihime was a really solid character and I definitely missed her once she was gone. She could fight and did rather well in combat. At the end of the day that’s just not enough when you’re up against Doppo’s group. Her flame powers were fun while they lasted. Then you have Doppo as the big leader of his group and that guy was a solid villain. He is one of those quirky types who likes his artwork and making sure his victims don’t die easily.
He explains that this was actually difficult because of course in this world the demons will die naturally without money and if they recover too well it could be dangerous. Well, his idea is to let them partially regenerate and turns them into piggy banks which forces them to stay alive. The whole thing was very clever on his part. It’s good that they’re made out of coins though or the scene could have been a little too grisly. Either way it is rather disturbing for anyone who gets captured by him. You do not want that to happen.
Doppo’s power is able to suck fire out of anything or anyone which is interesting. I haven’t quite seen a power like that before and I thought it worked really well. It helps the ability really stand out next to the others. A normal ice ability wouldn’t have stood out as much. I may not be the biggest fan of the guy but he certainly lives up to the hype with how powerful he is. Even by the end of the series he isn’t taken out.
Next up is more of a small arc as the heroes realize they need to get much stronger while also increasing the fights at their disposal. The best option is to form a truce with the biker gang. Naturally this ultimately leads to a clash between their leader Kotton and Maruo. Kotton reminds me of an Accel World type character with how he zooms all over the place. He’s incredibly fast, maybe too fast as it’s hard to see Maruo fighting with him at all. Sure, Maruo is getting wrecked for most of the fight but maybe it should have been for the whole fight. The water weakness was convenient against Kotton but he should still be too fast to fall for any traps.
It could have been worse as the author at least tries to cover the bases but that’s always an issue with speed types and I think it would have continued on even further here if it had kept going. I liked Kotton as a character though and now he’s a guy who could really add onto the dynamic. He likes a good fight and is all about friendship and protecting his men. He’s the kind of leader you want to have on your side.
Finally we enter the last arc where Urara is kidnapped at a hotel by Tamagawa, another one of the leaders. His ability is to shapeshift and he even gains that person’s powers. It’s a solid ability with the only downfall being that if he stays in the shape for too long then he can’t transform back. That’s certainly a risk here but one that is likely worth the extraordinary powers that he gets. This guy is one of those by the books fighters who doesn’t like to live on the edge. He’ll take the safe option every time.
He didn’t really stand out to me even though he did make for a very solid boss. He’s more of an obstacle than a big character. This worked as a preview to the final boss with Doppo though as the guy turned into him. Since the author likely knew the series was ending at this point, it makes sense why he would have the guy turn into Doppo. If the series did end then at least Maruo got his revenge in a sense.
At 25 chapters long the series escaped the U-19 club but ultimately it still didn’t last a very long amount of time. It feels like you have the series wrapped up in an instant. As you can tell I had a good time with it. Sure, it may not have broken out on its own as some kind of elite or really stood out a ton but ultimately it got a lot more things right than wrong. Each chapter was fast paced and the story was engaging.
The story also had a good amount of humor which worked well. Maruo constantly talking about beating people up or using his special attacks was always entertaining. The series was even going for almost a One Punch Man kind of vibe with Maruo one hitting everyone for a bit but it branched out early on so I wouldn’t say that it was trying to rip that off. In general I thought the power escalation was handled well. Maruo faced off with his first real challenge right away but won enough fights where his hype was warranted. That’s a good way to go here and of course the series had its emotional moments as well. I think you could easily retool this into a one-shot movie since the series didn’t keep going.
Occasionally it would have some tonal clashes like the heroes having a comic relief, slapstick fight against the villains in the hotel but for the most part it was relatively serious. The action was good and I do think the author was working hard to get in a solid main cast. I always have a section on what the series could have done differently to avoid getting cancelled and I listed them earlier, but I do think the author tried really hard. I’m a bit surprised that it didn’t go further. The series didn’t really have any fanservice and it seemed primed for big things.
Overall, It’s a shame that Ayashimon ended but I suppose they can’t all be winners. I would definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a solid action manga. Maruo was getting stronger and stronger so it would have been nice to see what heights he could have reached. Perhaps a sequel will be out someday but I’m always super skeptical. It is a longshot after all but never rule it out. This is at least one series that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon, especially with how bold it was to have characters like Goku and Joestar actually appearing in Maruo’s head.