It’s time for one of the manga elites! The Law of Ueki is pretty underrated in the manga community and you’ve likely never heard of it. That’s too bad since it can definitely hold its own against big titles like Naruto and One Piece. For some reason, it just never really hit it big and it’ll forever be more of an obscure title. Why is the Law of Ueki so good? Well, it has a perfect blend of action and hype. The ending is pretty rushed, but it almost fits the pace of this title.
The plot follows a kid who’s named…..waiiiiiit for it…..Ueki! He has a talent..he can turn garbage into trees. The running joke is that this ability never becomes useful and it’s probably one of the worst abilities ever. Luckily for him..this can all change. There is a tournament being held with 100 fighters. Each fighter represents a candidate to be the next King. The fighter’s prize is that they may learn a new “talent.” They can write down whatever ability they want on the paper and it shall be theirs. Each student starts out with around 10 talents if I recall correctly. Injuring a non combatant will result in the character losing a talent. Lose all of them…and let’s just say that your life will effectively be ruined. Ueki just needs to win the tournament to get the best super power ever, but he’s really just doing it for the guy he’s representing. He’s also going to need to make sure to do his best since the villains can be ruthless.
Much like MAR, The Law of Ueki is really just one really long tournament. The action is nonstop and that’s what I like to see from any title. This series pulls off most of the Shonen tropes that you would expect and does a nice job with them. One mild weakness for the series is that you could call some parts a little generic. Ueki is what you would expect from the lead and we even have the change in villains twist that you may have expected. I wouldn’t say that this is a big weakness though since everything is repetitive to an extent. As long as the scenes are enjoyable, then the Law of Ueki is still winning.
The art in the series may not be spectacular, but it’s definitely very good. The style reminds me of One Piece and it really captures the battle scenes. It’s always easy to follow what’s happening and many different series have trouble with that. There are a bunch of fight scenes to be found so that is a pretty big positive for the series. I’d say that the artwork is above average and it helps the manga feel even more exciting than it would have without it.
Tier wise, this series is likely a lot stronger than you may have expected. The top fighters can easily hold their own against fighters from Naruto and One Piece. I’m still going to say that it would be a stretch for them to go up against Bleach or Reborn! fighters, but that’s not bad. Ueki vs Beet is a good comparison to make here. It is like Sailor Moon though in the sense that the top tiers are drastically stronger than the average fighter. Ueki and the two big villains are really in a league of their own. They have super speed, flight, super strength, and much more. Fighting those guys will tire most other fighters out. Another reason why I love having strong fighters appear is that we are treated to some great fight scenes!
Ueki is our lead and he’s a pretty good main character. One can definitely see why he’d be called generic though. He’s very similar to Luffy and I think the author must be familiar with the series. I got a One Piece vibe several times while reading the series. I like Ueki, but I wouldn’t call him an amazing character like Train Heartnet or Ichigo. He’s a hero and I tend to agree with all of his calls. He believes in the power of friendship and he always sticks by his team. Beyond that, he doesn’t get any memorable lines and he doesn’t really stick out. You’ll mostly enjoy him for his fight scenes. He does get all of the best ones after all.
Mori is the main heroine and she makes sure to get involved in the tournament. Unfortunately, she has one of the worst powers of all time. She can make her opponents fall in love with glasses. That’s pretty terrible when you think about it and her fight was really just one big parody. I think that the author could have given her something that was a little more decent since that hurt her appearances in the series. She never really gets to help out in the fights, which can be sad for her fans. She’s a decent character, but she just doesn’t stand out.
Ueki’s main group of friends doesn’t really get any better with Kobayashi. Technically, he’s Ueki’s mentor, but he’d still be considered as one of the main characters. He doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time though since he is banished from the planet for breaking one of the rules. The only way to get him back is to win the tournament, which gives Ueki some motivation. I suppose that he’s not a bad character, but I don’t find him to be very likable. He’s meant to make the reader laugh and I didn’t find him to be very funny so that plan didn’t work. He’s basically just a side plot for most of the series.
Sano is easily the best friend that Ueki has, but it’s still not saying a whole lot. He can turn towels into iron/steel, which isn’t bad. It’s not the greatest ability out there, but that means that he’ll always have a solid weapon to hit people with. He’s the strategist of the group and he’s typically the first person to figure out what an enemy’s ability is. He comes in handy quite a few times, but he can’t help all that much against the big opponents since he physically cannot keep up with them. He’s no Sanosuke, but Sano is always ready to help out.
Rinko joins the team pretty early on after a brief stunt as one of the villains. She can throw explosive beads at her opponents. It’s not a great power, but when you look at her allies…you start to appreciate it. Her slap is pretty iconic by the end since the artist makes her hand look huge and it’s almost always a one hit KO attack. At least she’s getting a lot of action! I wasn’t a big fan of her either though and she didn’t really add a whole lot to the group. She just pretty unmemorable as well, which adds to the amount of characters that were fairly generic.
Hideyoshi is largely inspired by Usopp, but I really don’t like him. He can make sounds come from other directions with his drawings, but man…that’s a pretty awful power. He cannot fight at all and he’s mostly used for comic relief. It’s hard to really root for this kind of character because he can only win with severe plot hax. I think the series could have been even better if Hideyoshi had not been introduced. I still like most of the villains in the Law of Ueki, but I have to say that most of the heroes can use some work. Ueki mostly has to carry the team on his own and he’s already not the greatest main character. (Although the others make him look like the next Vegeta!) (In terms of epicness of course)
Tenko is the Celestial Beast who helps Ueki develop his abilities. His training is highly risky though and if Ueki were to fail…he would die. Tenko is still a nice guy though so he lets Ueki train when needed. I guess I didn’t mind Tenko by the end. As a whole, I find Tenko to be a little unnecessary and he should have gone in to help Ueki instead of “trusting” him at one point. I disagreed with his decision and it was hard to forget about that. He is better than most animal mascots though and I dare say that I like him more than Mokona and Cerberus. It’s a close call of course.
Hanon is the final villain of the series and he’s very powerful. He can absorb other fighters to gain their abilities, which comes in handy. Initially, he was tough, but he was probably not a huge threat. That changed once he met up with the previous main villain. Suddenly, Hanon become a big contender and his powers almost have no limits. His speed and power are off the charts and he can fly as well. Hanon makes for a great villain as his abilities are perfect. The fight scenes with him are naturally great and they feel very climatic. It’s rare that I like all (2) of the big villains in the manga series, but Law of Ueki managed to pull it off. Most impressive!
Robert is the main villain for a good chunk of the series. He’s pretty great and it was our first glimpse of DBZ action. He starts out as a pretty sinister villain, but he starts to warm up to the others as the series goes on. I quickly became a fan of his, but my timing was a little off since he quickly stopped appearing due to a tragic meal. I was rooting for him there, but it was a good way to hype up the next villain. I would have preferred a climatic fight first with a clear resolution, but The Law of Ueki just moves too quickly for that. Robert is not someone that you will forget and he had the privilege of staying in the top tier from start to finish.
“God” is the host of the tournament and he doesn’t do anything until we reach the end of the series. He seems like a pretty nice guy and he’s really relaxed about the whole situation. He does have to step in when his rules start to be abused by the competitors, but what if he has grown rusty over the years? His fight is pretty intense although a lot of it is off screen. It’s implied that he actually could have won against most of the villains, but Hanon is very debatable. “God” was having a very tough time when he went up against Hanon’s right hand man although he was holding back so that he wouldn’t hurt him. At full power, he could possibly give Hanon a good fight although I’m confident that he would lose. He’s a pretty good character, but he suffers from a severe lack of screen time.
Li Ho was actually one of my favorite characters in the series. Unfortunately, he got the shaft towards the end since it was fairly rushed. He never got to have the ultimate fight with Ueki that I had been waiting for. He’s an immense threat without the use of his abilities and that’s a big part of why he’s likable. He has super powers, but he chooses not to use them so that he can perfect his martial art skills. This makes him strong enough to take on the main villain and he did fight Ueki on more than one occasion. He does take his honor a little too far though as he should have activated his powers by the end. I mean, imagine if Goku decided not to turn into a Super Saiyan 3 and the series ended without him transforming. All of the foreshadowing ends up going to waste. Ah well, Li Ho is definitely a solid character and I dare say that he’s even better than Rock Lee. (Both of them are hand to hand fighters in a supernatural world, but Li Ho looks a little more impressive)
Barrow is another big opponent in the series. As expected, he has a really formidable ability up his sleeve. He has the normal celestial weapons like the Pick and the Cannonball attack, but his secret ability is what really makes them deadly. He can bring back past images of himself to fight as well. So, if he attacked you from a certain part of the field 15 minutes ago, he can bring that “him” back to launch the attack. He’s not changing the past, but merely bringing it back once again. The only drawback is that the past him is still real so then he can become a target. He can spam his time manipulation to launch some devastating combos. It’s very tough to overcome this kind of opponent and it definitely depends on what the location is. Again, I definitely enjoyed this villain. He didn’t have much of a personality beyond wanting to win, but he was pretty reasonable and I never found myself rooting against him. He did help to activate Ueki’s rage mode though.
We have another big villain in the form of Marilyn. I’ll admit that her power was a little too good since I don’t really see how she could have lost her battle. We can make the same case for some of the other villains, but Marilyn really stood out in this regard. She can make 1 second stretch out into 10 seconds for her. This means that she is moving 10X faster than everyone else and that’s a massive advantage. There are so many ways to win that way and only a few opportunities to stop such a strategy. I was highly skeptical of Ueki’s win against her because it didn’t make a lot of sense. It’s one of the risks of making your villains so powerful without giving the hero a power up. If you are physically superior to Marilyn already, then you should be fine, but nobody in the series (At the time anyway) was good enough to pull this off. Even someone like Goku would have a tough time if he wasn’t expecting the hit. Marilyn’s backstory can come off as a little cheesy, but she was a solid villain overall.
Since this is a tournament title, there are naturally many more fighters involved. I just managed to grab most of the main characters and the iconic villains. There is a small part of the series that happens before the tournament and we get some breaks, but it’s mostly all about the tournament. The series also kicks into overdrive towards the end in terms of pacing. It goes a little too quickly as we get rushed results with Li Ho, Robert, and arguably Hanon. Hanon’s right hand man also starts to get some development that ends up going to waste and the host of the event’s fight had to end a little quicker than it might have been. That being said, the series doesn’t drag on because of this and I can’t say that it had any bad volumes. Just about every installment gave us an exciting fight and advanced us through the tournament.
The climax in the Law of Ueki can hold its own against any climax. Whether it be from Bleach or DBZ, the Law of Ueki’s still manages to shine through. It may not beat their arcs, (Nothing will beat the end of the Aizen Invasion) but it’s enjoyable enough that you won’t miss them while reading it. The end fights hit all of the right notes and it basically sums up why the series was fun in the first place. It has a lot of great fights and exciting villains. Some parts may be generic, but the action and art keep it real. I also like when a series decides to go all out for the ending. Let’s just say that the power levels skyrocket in the final volume and Ueki/Hanon get to shoot through a few tiers in their big fight.
The Law of Ueki also manages to take the high road as it avoids fanservice. I don’t recall any of that being in it and if there was any, it was extremely brief. There is also virtually no romance in this title so it’s really a complete action story. There are basically no negatives that I have with it. Some of the characters may not be great, but I can’t remember any truly awful ones (Like Roshi or Oolong) either so that’s a pretty big win.
Overall, The Law of Ueki is an incredible manga that I highly recommend. It’s fairly short compared to the average Jump (Or Shonen in general) series, but it contains a ton of fights within. The series got a sequel series a while back, which I’ll be checking out soon so you can expect a review for that title at some point. I can only imagine the plot hax that will be involved to make the fights even considering how skilled Ueki is. I doubt they can stop Hanon, but they can try. Between Hanon, Robert, and the others, it’s very tough to match the Law of Ueki’s high caliber villains. You should definitely enjoy this title if you are into action. Think of it was a grounded DBZ in terms of tone and finesse. Now we just need Ueki to get popular enough for people to compare him to Luffy some more!