Thanksgiving turkeys might be getting pardoned and roasted this week, but this tough piece of poultry is kicking all kinds of kaiju ass in this action comedy manga.
Rooster Fighter, by Syu Sakuratani, follows the escapades of a rough-and-tumble rooster named Keiji. After witnessing the death of his younger sister at the hands of “The White Devil,” a human who transformed into a kaiju, Keiji sets out on an odyssey to kill the murderous demon.
Rooster Fighter’s overall tone is a mix of early One Punch Man with the comedic chops of the 2009 blaxploitation comedy film Black Dynamite. Much like One Punch Man’s leading man, Saitama, Keiji packs a helluva punch with his iron-clad beak, razor-sharp talons, and his ear-splitting cock-a-doodle-doo. Despite Keiji ultimately saving people from rampaging demons, he’s still a rooster at heart. Many of his heroic feats are incited by his succumbing to his basic animalistic instincts to eat more than his fair share of food and sleep with a brood of junglefowl hens.
When he initially conceptualized the main character for his crime-fighting manga, Sakuratani told Kotaku he was in a bit of a creative rut when it came to deciding what animal his titular character should be.
“I had gone through several other types of living beings, but a rooster felt like the perfect fit. When I was little, I actually had a rooster as a pet, so that may have influenced me,” Sakuratani said. “Once I had a rooster set as my protagonist, everything else came together quickly from there.
The most challenging aspect of drawing Rooster Fighter for Sakuratani is nailing the expressiveness of its typically unexpressive animals. To overcome this hurdle, Sakuratani leaned heavily on drawing “manga-like” facial expressions, like having them make goofy faces or cry an “obscene amount of tears,” so readers can comprehend their emotions. While Rooster Fighter, off the jump, is a comedy manga by its unorthodox premise alone, Sakuratani main focus isn’t its jokes, but its fight scenes.
“I want to keep the series’s primary focus as an action manga, so my first priority is the action scenes, and then I work backward from there to work in the drama and the comedy if there’s room for it,” Sakuratani said. “Occasionally, my priorities will shift, but my primary goal is building up Keiji as a character.”
After writing three volumes of Rooster Fighter, with a fourth volume on the way, Sakuratani said he has more respect for animals than he ever did before.
“I’d be happy if you walked away from the series wondering if the animals around us may be living as dramatic and emotion-filled lives as we humans do,” Sakuratani said.