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All the Announcements from Anime Expo 2024
Mamoru Miyano Brings Charm to the Kinnikuman Panel

by Kalai Chik,

ANN's coverage of Anime Expo 2024 sponsored by Yen Press and Ize Press!


Pony Canyon hosted a premiere screening for the newest anime within the Kinnikuman franchise: The Kinnikuman: Perfect Origin Hen. Longtime fans, as well as die-hard Mamoru Miyano fans, attended the moderately full panel with bated breath. Despite the voice actor's appearance at the event, the episodes focused very little on his character. Nevertheless, the screening roused up a cheering crowd during impactful action scenes, as well as any appearance of Kinnikuman.

The anime arc is a revival of the manga's continued 2011 run, with many scenes in episode 0 being modern updates and callbacks to the TV series in the 80s. I knew of the Kinnikuman series because it was widely popular in Asia, but fans in the US had to make do without an English dub before now. Before the panel, I researched Director Akira Sato's other works, which all seemed straightforward and by the book. His style falls under directors who tend to stick to the source material and stay within a budget and timeline, as I didn't see any previous work that stuck out to me. Sato also faces the uphill challenge of adapting an older, but still popular, series that younger generations—both in Japan and overseas—may not be familiar with. On one hand, if he strays too far from the manga, it could be seen as disrespectful to fans and the original author. On the other, if the anime becomes merely voices on moving pictures, then it will fail to drive interest from newer contemporary anime watchers.

Unfortunately, the two episodes felt very old-school in terms of pacing and storytelling. Episode 0 tries valiantly to catch the audience up to speed with the plot and characters. In fact, there were over ten characters shown at breakneck speed without any introduction or fanfare to them. What I assumed was episode 0 seemed very incoherent, with characters simply saying other names, and throwing them around in fragmented succession. For Kinnikuman fans, the familiar faces need no introduction. But as a potential new watcher, I didn't feel attached to anyone; even Kinnikuman and Terryman. Each scene felt like clips smushed together and held together by simple fade-in and fade-out transitions. They were choppy enough that the episode pushed on without rhyme or reason.

I found it difficult to even determine where episode 0 transitioned to episode 1 until the title card came up. Although episode 1 is the proper introduction to the arc, which had a brighter tone and more colorful characters. Nostalgic fans in the room cheered and hollered at the wrestling and moments of bloody violence. Take the anime at face value as an over-the-top wrestling anime, and this series will make you feel right at home. There's lore around the peace treaty between the Chojins (superhumans) and aliens, but that was lost during new characters who kept popping up one after another. WWE fans might also find enjoyment in seeing the Chojins and aliens toss and attack each other, but I couldn't grasp the overall tone of the series other than the bloody fighting.

After the premiere, Director Akira Sato, animation producer Rui Kuroki, and voice actor Mamoru Miyano came onstage to thunderous applause. All three were happy to see how much they enjoyed the episodes and hoped to see that passion translated to the official release of the series on July 7th. “This series is a classic anime in Japan. I'm very proud to be succeeding the legendary Akira Kamiya in this role,” said Miyano. “I hope you can all enjoy this new version of Kinnikuman.” He soaked up the energy from the crowd and flexed his biceps to mimic the muscular build of his character.

When asked what they believe US viewers will relate to, Producer Kuroki shared that he likes watching pro-wrestling matches all the time. “I think muscles cross borders.” Meanwhile, Miyano believes the special attacks will be key in attracting viewers. “The director himself has put in quite the action moves in there. It's going to be very EXCITING.” Kuroki added that working on the special attacks took a lot of work. “The voice actors have to put a lot of force into their voices for those scenes. It was difficult to match the movement for those voices.” Miyano showed a strained expression as he likely had to yell often for the role. Director Sato chimed in simply with “the power of friendship.” He further elaborated that the way the characters combine forces will join people across the world.

As the panel ran low on time, the guests decided to end with a giveaway featuring a game of rock paper scissors. It's no surprise to say that Miyano's presence helped to elevate the panel, but hopefully, those who came to see him will also continue to watch the Perfect Origin Arc.

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