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File:Rsz holyland 8625.jpg


Holyland is a fairly realistic martial arts-based series with footnotes on how any used or subverted trope fits in with how martial arts really work.

Meet Kamishiro Yuu, a young high school student who was bullied during middle school. The harassment gets to the point he stops going to school and starts secretly training to fight. A year later, disconnected from life around him, he has taken to roaming the streets looking for a place to belong.

He unleashes his secret left-right combo on random street thugs and in doing so gains a reputation as a thug hunter. He ends up fighting increasingly strong opponents as everyone wants to test his skill. Though the series deals a little with the reality of gang violence, people beaten into comas are usually out of the hospital in a few chapters.

Complete at 18 volumes in Japan. The series was adapted into a Live-Action TV Drama in 2005, 13 episodes were made; it aired at late-night fridays in Japan, on TV Tokyo.


This work provides example of:

  • Acrofatic: Iwado. Notes mention how most people underestimate the speed of judoka.
  • Adults Are Useless: A major theme in the series, the teenager characters live in a total alien world to adults; the night streets, the fighting, their Holyland, adults make no part of it and the teens don't miss their company.
  • Almighty Janitor: Many gangsters who know karate won't take the black belt test even if they can fight at that level. Justified as having a black belt gives police more ammunition against them.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Majority of Delinquents and other gangsters seem to exist only to cause trouble.
    • Yuu has admited several times that he doesn't know if he's on the "good" side, there's a time when he recognizes that even those who picked fights on him where posibly "protecting their holyland". This goes to the point that Izawa comments on how stupid is to gather up to just "commit crimes".
    • Yuu admits that he is similar to them; they too are just looking for a place to belong to and protecting that place. The biggest difference between him and them is that due to him being bullied, he developed a shy, timid, humble, and more considerate personality, which is the opposite of most of the hot-headed, conceited, jackass thugs.
  • Arrogant Kung Fu Guy: Lots of them all around, especially the actual martial artists who start taking over for the delinquents.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Where to aim for on humans to do this is mentioned from time to time.
  • Awesome Yet Practical: The moves shown. Nothing crazy that you need to be a ballerina to use, just the straightforward and effective.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Mostly played straight in that villains who look physically ugly are a lot more likely to be Jerkasses (and generally don't get Sympathy for the Devil moments) compared to villains who look more normal.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: No matter how many fights he's been in and how many times he's been beaten up, Yuu has yet to lose or chip a visible tooth, hasn't broken his jaw or nose or gotten any permanent scars (he gets plenty of scratches and bruises, but never any permanent ones). Averted by some of the villains, who meanwhile get these things.
  • Berserk Button: Don't hurt Yuu's friends unless you want to have the shit beaten out of you, and out of everyone you know too.
    • When he was younger, Izawa had a Berserk Button that got triggered by being taunted about running from an opponent due to his father walking out on his family.
  • Big Brother Mentor: Masaki Izawa. Tsuchiya becomes one as well later on.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Taka and Iwado show up to a showdown between king's gang and a drug-ring fighting outfit organized by Masaki, and completely demolish the former. Taka even lampshades how it feels good to know that he's swinging his (wooden) sword "for justice" for once.
  • Big Ol' Eyebrows: Shougo. They mostly stand out because they're not bleached, but his hair is.
  • Bland-Name Product: Wakudonalds.
  • Blood Knight: Shougo Midorikawa, the Karate user.
    • Izawa Masaki, to an extent.
    • Yuu himself appears to be headed in this direction
      • Yuu knows it, too, and swings between acceptance and fear of becoming this. More towards acceptance in recent chapters.
  • Book Ends: The series both starts and ends with a rookie entering the world of the back-alley street fighting and thug scene in the hope of finding a place he can 'belong' to. Only in the ending, the Naive Newcomer has the Thug Hunter still around and looking out for him.
  • Broken Ace: Masaki. He is at first presented as everything Yuu is not: Calm, experienced, self-confident, an expert fighter and a martial arts prodigy in both karate and boxing, and highly respected. Eventually, his backstory reveals he's basically a two year older Yuu who went through even worse things (including a suicide attempt), came out broken and cynical, and has basically given up on trying to move forward after reaching his current slump.
  • But I Read a Book About It: Yuu first learnt boxing through a book.
  • Clark Kent Outfit: Later volumes when Yuu gets quite muscle bound, while in his school uniform, t-shirts or wearing long sleeve shirts his muscles are barely notable. Only in a normal shirt you can see how far his body has developed.
  • Classical Antihero: Yuu. The entire manga is basically about Yuu shedding his 'outsider' status and flaws in order to find a place he belongs.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Averted as Yuu can win one-on-one duels, but usually does poorly in a target-rich environment.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Several times, the narration will point out the differences between sparring and street fighting and the no-holds-barred nature of the latter.
  • The City Narrows
  • The Cavalry: Shougo calls the police before Katou's thugs can take revenge on Yuu. Iwado in chapter 59 saving Yuu from three thugs.
  • The Cavalry Arrives Late: After Yuu beats Shougo, the other thugs have already started beating Yuu before the police arrive.
  • Cowardly Lion: This is a major part of Yuu's characterization.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: Masaki versus Yuu. Yuu genuinely did get in a seriously dangerous attack, though Shogou suspects the whole thing was a Batman Gambit on Masaki's part to give Yuu one hit.
  • Damn You, Muscle Memory!: When Shougo gets a headbutt from Katou he reverts to his karate training, which proves his undoing.
  • Defeat Means Friendship: Iwado and Midorikawa Shougo, obviously. Also Taka and Tsuchiya seem to be going this way.
  • Delinquents: Lots. Well, just about everyone, with few exceptions.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose In Life: Yuu, which is why he started going into the streets for fights.
    • It eventually comes to light that practically all the street fighters are this way, hanging around the streets because they've got nowhere better to be. Many of the more skilled ones talk about 'graduating from the streets' and taking their skills into the realm of professional martial arts. In the end, Masaki takes this step and becomes a pro kickboxer, leaving Yuu to fill in his shoes as Big Brother Mentor to a new generation of street fighters.
  • Determinator: Yuu.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: While Yuu and Mai are obviously attracted to each other and share a kiss near the ending, Yuu chooses the streets over her.
  • Dirty Coward: Yagi. Pretends to be a badass gang boss, but is really this. In the latter half of the series he is so terrified of Yuu that he can only face him when hiding behind King's two MMA henchmen or when he's holding Mai hostage. When he is last seen in the manga, he pathetically begs for his life in front of an enraged Yuu (after already trying to hide from him and seeing him everywhere) before he gets his much deserved curbstomp.
  • Disappeared Dad: Izawa's father, in his back-story.
  • The Dreaded: Yuu wants to become this so that bullies and gangsters will stop bothering him. It not actually working is a major recurring theme.
  • Driven to Suicide: Yuu wanted to in the backstory, but could not bring himself to actually take the step off the roof. Masaki has scars on his wrist from an attempt.
  • Drugs Are Bad: The story arc about the new street drug "True" is this in spades. Also, the drug trade in general throughout the series.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: The gangsters who refused to gang up on Yuu with Katou.
  • Feel No Pain: Katou due to drugs.
  • For the Evulz: Why Katou attacked Shin.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: Masaki does this to Yuu to stop him carrying out Extreme Melee Revenge on Katou. It doesn't take. He tries again later and succeeds.
  • Geo Effects: Getting brought to ground is much more painful on the street than on the mat. Also, being on soft ground like grass allows the wrestler Tsuchiya to go all out without fear of hurting himself from a whiff.
  • Gonk: Iwato, the fat Judo user, has an astoundingly round head. Later, his face is drawn differently, goofy and standing out from the rest of the art style.
    • Katou, the horrifyingly ugly junkie street boss. He doesn't depart from the art style like Iwado, but he is missing his front teeth, has a crooked nose, and his eyes are milky, and deeply strabismal.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Played with. Most fighters base their styles on some formal martial art - even Masaki's has karate as a base - and effectiveness varies.
  • Gratuitous English: The english titles for the chapters are from the original print of the manga in Japan.
  • Groin Attack: Katou pulls this on Shougo and Yuu.
  • Handwraps of Awesome: Yuu takes to using these when he's not using his homemade pair of plastic hand guards.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Played with. Yuu is noted as being precociously talented in martial arts, despite his 'style' being a patchwork mish-mash of street fighting with some moves learned from his opponents thrown in, and defeats several people who've spent years practising their respective sport or martial art. On the other hand, Yuu works himself to the bone and tends to (initially) fare badly when facing people who both have talent and years of training.
  • Heroic BSOD: Yuu, right after Shin gets attacked. He also BSODs again several chapters later and takes a while to regain his old fighting form. Hell, Yuu before the series even starts.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Yuu struggles with the reality of turning the tables on his bullies.
  • Hope Spot: The ending. Yuu has beaten King and had his final showdown with Masaki, where he admits Yuu's the better fighter. Then, on the way back from his final fight in the series, Yuu is stabbed with a knife by a nobody and left to die alone in an alleyway. The final Time Skip volume plays with whether or not he's really dead, as nobody has seen him in the interim and they Never Found the Body, until Yuu finally shows up alive in the last two pages.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Yuu, often.
  • I Am Not Left-Handed: King, who appeared to be just a drug trafficking boss, is quite the fighter, he is disciplined in Chinese Kenpo and even managed to strike fear in Shougo's heart.
  • Informed Ability: Yoshii's knife-fighting, considering that he gets demolished by an injured Masaki immediately afterwards.
  • Invulnerable Knuckles: Averted. Yuu breaks or otherwise injures his knuckles a few times and takes to wearing protective gear.
  • It Got Worse: Just when you think that Yuu's reached some kind of mental equilibrium...
  • Just Hit Him: Justified and subverted. Iwado is a judoka, so it makes sense that he would be better at throwing than striking. At the same time, it's shown that getting hurled into a concrete wall or onto asphalt can be as fight-ending as a good strike combo.
  • Kick Them While They Are Down: Masaki pretends to do this to Yuu in order to placate the watching thugs.
  • Martial Arts Do Not Work That Way: Averted. Martial arts do INDEED work that way!
  • Mistaken for Badass: Yuu is, in the eyes of the delinquents and gangsters, some fearsome hunter.
  • Mr. Exposition: The author himself. Also, sometimes Masaki, Shougo, or any of the more experienced fighters.
  • My Greatest Failure: Masaki's is begging forgiveness from thugs that he could have fought, while Yuu's is getting Shin attacked.
  • Never Bring a Knife to A Fist Fight: Masaki calmly takes on a knife-wielder and dismantles him - all without disarming him. Notes mention how blind focus on trying to wrestle away the weapon is unwise. The author does mention that fighting bare-fisted against someone with a weapon is generally unwise, Masaki is exceptional after all.
  • Oh Crap: In chapter 27 Yuu's old bullies have this when they realise he's Took a Level In Badass. In chapter 35 it's Shougo's turn when Katou tackles him and takes him to ground.
  • One-Hit Kill: Chapter 29 mentions that the best way if forced to fight multiple opponents is to take out lesser fighters as fast as possible.
  • Painting the Fourth Wall: of a sort: when the pros and cons of a certain move are explained by Izawa or someone else, the author elucidates further with diagrams and text boxes clearly not perceived by the characters.
  • Parental Abandonment: Pretty much all characters are victim of this, as adults are clearly not a big part of the teenager cast's lives; their parents are completely absent and neglectful of their children, others are dead, and the majority simply doesn't exist in the storytelling.
  • Pay Evil Unto Evil: Invoked by Yuu in his speech before he fights Taka. "All I know is that I will answer malice... with violence."
  • Poor Communication Kills: Another common theme, and a serious source of drama.
  • Reality Ensues: The gangsters often don't respect their loss in Combat by Champion and gang up on the victor.
  • The Red Baron: Yuu, "the Thug Hunter". Masaki, "the Charisma of the Streets".
  • The Resenter: Shougou eventually becomes this.
  • Retired Badass: If this trope can be said to apply to a person mid-twenties, Masaki is an example.
  • The Reveal: Masaki is Mai's brother.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Yuu goes on one after Shin's getting attacked.
  • Shown Their Work: Extensive annotations for all the fight scenes, explaining how the various attacks, defenses, and footwork work to the combatants' advantages -- and disadvantages. Probably the selling point of the manga. There are, however, some flubs here and there; always consult a properly trained martial artist first.
  • Smug Snake: Practically all the arc villains are unbearably smug.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Yuu starts out with small-time thugs and Glory Seekers who mostly know basic streetfighting and a single martial art, moves his way up to youth gangsters who are more adult and are better trained in one or multiple disciplines (or fight dirty) and are accustomed to actual fighting, before starting to butt heads with martial art prodigies with formal training in actually combat-related disciplines like Muay Thai or MMA.
  • Taught By Experience: Yuu adapts his fighting style based on his experiences.
  • Tempting Fate: At one point Sawako gangsters are thinking of going after Shougo or Yuu after attacking Shinichi. Cue the former.
  • Took a Level In Badass: Essentially, the entire series for Yuu.
  • Nakama: One the biggest meaning behind the title "Holyland (especially for Yuu who never had a true friend in his life)," a place one can belong to, something worth protecting.
  • Unskilled but Strong: All Yuu could do for quite a while was a "one-two" combo that he applied a bit differently when the situation called for it.
    • This is actually subverted. The one-two works because Yuu's opponents don't expect someone as small and timid as him to have knockout power in both fists. Once rumors start spreading of the "thug-hunting boxer" and people start expecting the one-two combo, he has to learn different punches, proper footwork, and kicks in order to keep winning.
    • Katou has absolutely no formal training whatsoever, but is naturally strong, fights extremely dirty and is near insensitive to pain due to drug abuse. He shows up later in the manga in an attempt to take over the drug market and is completely flattened by one of King's MMA-using Co-Dragons.
  • Use Your Head: Katou does this to Shougo, marking the start of the latter's loss.
  • Vacuum Hurricane Kick: Totally averted, thank God.
  • Younger Than They Look: Tsuchiya is barely out of high school but looks like he's in his mid-twenties (which helps his Big Brother Mentor credit). He gets annoyed when people automatically assume he's older than he really is.
  • Waistcoat of Style: Masaki sports one at his bartending job.
  • White-Haired Pretty Boy: Shougo.
  • Wooden Katanas Are Even Better: Used by Taka the kendoka.
  • Worthy Opponent: Practically all the non-Smug Snake villains are presented as this instead.
  • Yakuza: When Yuu's Roaring Rampage of Revenge extends to attacking drug pushers, one of these tells Masaki to put a stop to it.
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