Since Katekyo Hitman Reborn recently won me five dollars in a bet against my foolhardy husband, I’ll use it for this the latest Shonen Stomp review. To apply a fair warning here, I do like this franchise, however I am cynical, honest, and fairly blunt in my way of speaking. So try to keep that in mind 😉
KHR is written by female mangaka Akira Amano, it is allegedy a shonen title, though all the evidance points against that. Confused? Don’t worry I’ll explain. You see EVERY single male character is not only a blatant cliche, but ALMOST every one of them falls into a specific ‘fetish’ caetgory as well. Hard to believe I know, but I’ll detail that more in the characters section.
Story-5: The story in Katekyo Hitman Reborn is subpar at best and full of almost painful cliches. Full of previously unmentioned relatives, abusive senseis, naive characters, and pseudo villians who will join the heroes cause eventually. Ugh! The story surrounds Sawada Tsunayoshi who is a middle school student, he is naive, whiny, foolish, and over all extremely reluctant to get involved with anything. Before we ever have a chance to actually get to know Tsuna however he’s thrust into a world that he knows nothing about, the world of the ‘mafia’. Tsuna will be taught [see: abused) by his home tutor the cursed ‘baby’ Reborn. He will inherit the title of the tenth generation Vongola Boss (in trying to teach us italian Vongola means Clam, yeah so the Clam Mafia family……), but first he has to gather loyal followers to be his family. Here we get a whole new handful of cliches. So instead of listening to Tsuna’s abject denial of being a mafioso he is bullied into it, including at one point being told he would be he would be killed if he didn’t suceed in a job that had nothing to do with him. And That’s the base story….it’s kind of…..painful really…..
Characters-6: Here it is as promised my hellish downfall into Hitman Reborn and it’s large cast of cliche/fetishes.
Sawada Tsunayoshi: It of course starts with the main character, ‘No Good’ Tsuna. He is the archtypical failure at…well everything, he’s not good at sports, or acedemics, if you can name it, he’s failed at it. This even includes doing the laundry on his own…. He’s a mama’s boy who’s dad went missing years ago. And of course he’s crushing on one of the most popular girls at school. Cliche points: 7/10 Tsuna is as far as fetish characters go the puppy dog type about sixty percent of the time. You know the type clumsy, naive, foolhardy, etc…. but the other fourty percent falls into a whole other group, that’s when Tsuna goes into Hyper Will Mode, also knwon as when he’s fighting seriously. Then he falls into the realms of unbeatable badass who is determined to protect his friends and allies, no matter what. And trust me when I say girls goes nutso for that schtick. To be fair to Tsuna though he is the ONLY male cast member who shows even a miniscule amount of character development in the 300+ chapters of this manga that I’ve read.
Gokudera Hayato: Hayato is the bomb slinging bad boy of the group, he worships the ground Tsuna walks on and hates it when anyone gets too close to him, more so acting like a jealous girlfriend then a best friend or even a subordinate. He has family issues and also hates authority figures. Shojo cliche Points: 10/10 Shonen cliche points: 7/10 So 17/10 total…… If Gokudera (especially in the 10 years later story arc when he’s mourning Tsuna’s death) isn’t deliberate fangirl bait then I’ll eat my fedora. Gokudera is the cross between the bad boy and the intellectual fetishes. He’s the deinquent, he smokes, stalks another male character, but he’s also intelligent. He even wears glasses when studying.
Yamamoto Takeshi: Yamamoto is like our lead character in the fact that he is naive well past the point of being cute or charming. He is an athlete, he’s the star of the baseball team, of course his dream is to someday go pro. He is SO SKILLED in athletics that in less then a week he masters kendo well enough to beat the world’s greatest swordsman. Yamamoto is happy go lucky and he believes the ENTIRE plot of the franchise, life and death fights included, is nothing more then some silly game. Cliche points 8/10. Do I even need to explain where a naive athlete falls into fetishes? I seriously adore Yamamoto but he is a black hole as far as character development goes. Nothing will ever come out of it.
Ryohei Sasagawa: Ryohei is the opposite end of the sports spectrum from Yamamoto. He’s the boxer, and yes he’s quite fit, but he’s so dumb that he makes a box of rocks look vaguely like Haravard graduates. He is also from the club that is inevitably facing being shut down due to a lack of membership. If being the big dumb fighter isn’t enough he is also the overprotective big brother of Tsuna’s crush Kyoko. Cliche Points: 9/10 God help me for saying this Ryohei is in the big brother fetish, as well as the athlete department, I’m sure girls who specifically aren’t me also probably think it’s hot that he fights without a shirt quite frequently.
Lambo: This is an eardrum shattering piece of meat right here. Lambo is loud, annoying, and quite frustrating. His running gag is using the 10 year bazooka to turn himself into a teenager who usually…. cries and runs away…. He’s foolish and obnoxious as a child. As a teenager they try to pitch him as a heartthrob. This falls through since not even five minutes ago you saw him as a baby running around with a bra on his head screaming. Good god….. Cliche Points (child Lambo) 9/10 He is every little kid you’ve ever seen in any anime, except with the volume turned all the way up. (teen Lambo) 8/10 If you’ve seen one coward in anime you’ve seen them all. I’m not going to even talk about child Lambo and fetishes ok, we’re just gonna leave that alone. Teen Lambo falls into the ‘heartthrob’ category, with the tanned skin and the slightly unbuttoned shirt…. You know what I’m not talking about this anymore, I hate Lambo.
Hibari Kyoya: Hibari is the head of the Naminori school disciplinary comittee, a duty which he takes disturbingly serious. Late for school? Hibari’ll kill you. Litter on school property? Hibari’ll kill you. Take the last meat bun from the school cafeteria? Hibari’ll kill you. He fights with tonfa, and he fights anything that offends him at anytime, and everything offends him. This review will probably offend him. He has a group of lackeys, and he wants to kill the entirety of the main cast. Who else could seriously say a line like “I want a chance to fight that baby again.” Cliche points: 10/10 Fetishes that Hibari falls into? Well he’s extremely domineering, he’s another bad boy (eat that Gokudera), and he fights with tonfa……..mmmmm……tonfa……
Rokudo Mukuro: Oh, this guy…. you want a walking pile of cliche that I’m completely in love with it’s this nutjob. Mukuro is the villian that wants to destroy the world, wants to possess the main character’s body, and collects lackeys like they’re trading cards. He is the redeemed (and I use that word lightly) villian who joins (again don’t take to much stock in that) the Vongola family. If that’s not enough, he’s snarky, deceitful, cruel, and all around mean. He knows exactly what buttons to push to get exactly what he wants out of people. A true puppetmaster. Cliche points 10/10 Then there are fetishes Mukie here falls into the mystical category. Everything he does is magic and there’s something about that that makes the girls scream.
Reborn: Then there is the little midget himself. Reborn is an abusive guntoting child. He is one of the cursed Arcobaleno (rainbow) children. They were all adults of extrodinary talent, so they were turned into babies, who retain that talent so there really wasn’t much point….. Cliche points 9/10 And where as it turns my stomach to type this Reborn falls into the fetish category of mystery, who was he, what does he really look like, only time would tell…..
Chrome Dokuro: A healthy break from the guys fighting and trying to look macho all the time, Chrome is the girl of the Vongola family. She is one half of the mist guardian, Mukuro being the other half. Due to the arrangement made between the two of them they can only exist with the aid of the other. She is a sickly girl with horrendously bad luck (every fight she’s in involves a tentacle monster). Cliche points: 6/10 Wait? what do you mean she’s not the healer?
I’ll highlight a few of the side characters just to prove my point…..
Dino Chiavarone: Dino is the leader of the Chiavarone family. He is one of Reborn’s former pupils, and in turn he is teaching (see getting beat up by) Hibari. Dino is the older figure that Tsuna looks up to and respects. His shtick is that unless a member of his family is around he can’t even manage to eat properly. He is an adorable walking talking buffoon. However if a member of his family is around then he can difuse a bomb with a whip. And let me tell you that is impressive. Dino could have escaped the painfully high cliche scores garnished by the rest of the cast however…. in the latest story arc he’s pretending to be a teacher at Tsuna’s school to stay close to him…… Yep that’s right, a cliche that had been done to death when Weiss Kreuz did it eight years ago, and it ain’t getting no fresher. Cliche points: 9/10 Fetishes: Mentor, teacher, tattoos, bullwhips, the list just goes on and on with the Bucking Horse here.
Superbi Squalo: The Varia family’s swordsman extrodinaire, Squalo is a man who will NEVER give up. Ever. He is loud, and very very angry. He is the only character who seems to care about his appearance at all. He dresses fashionably and puts a great deal of care into his hair. Squalo is the greatest swordsman in the world. However every single story will introduce another character who is a swordsman of impeccable might unlike any other they’ve ever faced. He also seems intent on teaching and fine tuning Yamamoto’s techniques, so he can have a better rival. Cliche points: 8/10 Fetishes: if a Reborn character were going to be on the cover of fasionable male it would be this guy. If fashionable angry guys are your thing, Squalo’s right up your alley.
See, cliches crossed with popular fetishes make up the entirety of the cast.
Art-7: Visually Hitman Reborn can fall anywhere between ‘OMG what the hells wrong with that guy?’ all the way over to ‘from the right angle Hibari looks kind of good in that’ and so on and so forth. In the later chapters more details become apparent, the characters start to appear less generic looking as more detail is added into their hair and clothes. Overall the art isn’t horribly offputting but it’s not really striking either. I do appreciate however that other then Hibari’s unnatural attachment to his disciplinary committee outfit, that the characters actually wear different outfits from time to time. The most notable of these being the always horrible but ever changing wardrobe of Rokudo Mukuro. Another area of notable detail is in the tattoos on Dino Chiavarone’s arms. Also a lot of detail goes into weapons and special moves. PS Mukuro’s Khakkhara has some great detail, very cool looking.
Overall-7: Pretty generous score considering this review’s bias, but whereas the characters and story are fairly blase’ my overall enjoyment of this franchise sits right about here. The story arcs though not page turners are interesting enough that you want to finish the story arc and you really want to see the villians get their faces bashed in for what they did to our ‘heroes’. Returning side characters always add a nice flair bringing with them their own tricks, trip ups, and one liners that make you smile even if just a little. I think that where as the things Hitman Reborn does wrong it does really really epicly wrong, the few things that it does right really draws you.