Garouden: Is Kodoku Based on a Real Underground Martial Arts Tournament?

Garouden: The Way of the Lone Wolf‘ revolves around the world of mixed martial arts, with Juzo Fujimaki, a skilled student of the Takeyami school, helming the narrative as the protagonist. Seven years ago, Fujimaki committed a crime that has rendered him a fugitive of the law ever since. However, an opportunity is thrust upon the fighter when he’s enlisted into an underground MMA tournament, KODOKU, wherein the prize at the end of the line is limited only by his own desire. Thus, despite his vow to never use his fighting skill to harm another person, Fujimaki finds himself facing off against some of the biggest and baddest fighters martial arts has to offer.

The Kodoku tournament remains tied to Fujimaki’s character development as each fight unlocks a dimmed fire within the fighter, helping him overcome his past demons. Likewise, the match also retains narrative significance, influencing the storylines of numerous characters. Therefore, given the magnitude of the tournament on-screen, viewers must be curious to know if a similar underground championship exists in real life. SPOILERS AHEAD!

Kodoku: The Unconventional, Lawless MMA Tournament

The Netflix anime show is based on the eponymous ‘Garouden’ fiction novel series about martial artists and their adventures by Baku Yumemakura. Even so, while the novels establish a source material for most elements explored within the story, the Kodoku Tournament remains confined to the show’s fictitious narrative with no prior origins. Thus, ‘Garouden: The Way of the Lone Wolf’ fictionalizes the Kodoku Tournament to pave the path for narrative competition within Fujimaki’s journey.

Etymologically, the Kodoku Tournament finds its name in the infamous curse magic found in Japanese folklore. As per legends, Kodoku is a spell that one casts by sealing a number of insects and other small animals into a jar, compelling them to fight each other to death. In the end, the last critter left alive becomes the vessel for the Kodoku curse, which can be used in a number of ways. Therefore, the fictional tournament’s name references the nature of the championship, wherein multiple fighters enter the proverbial ring for one-on-one fights until one champion prevails.

In essence, the tournament implies that the winner— Fujimaki, in the show’s case— would then go on to become the carrier of the curse. Consequently, the Kodoku tournament retains ties to Japanese culture, ensuring its presence within the world of ‘Garouden’ feels natural. Still, the idea of a no-rules-barred underground MMA Tournament held for the elite’s entertainment remains departed from reality. However, similar concepts have been a staple in the action-anime genre.

For instance, action-driven animes, like ‘Dragon Ball Z’ and ‘Yu Yu Hakusho,’ respectively have the World Martial Arts Tournament and the Dark Tournament. As such, the Kodoku Tournament remains an efficient utilization of genre conventions, allowing the storyline to deliver riveting action sequences. Still, despite its contribution to the narrative, The Kodoku Tournament— without a real-life counterpart— remains confined to fictionality.

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