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At the age of sixteen Ryo Narushima was a straight "A" student. He seemingly had no trouble getting into Tokyo University and joining the elite of society. However, that summer something cracked inside Ryo's head. With a small knife he brutally murdered both of his parents leaving only his sister alive and cowering in a corner. After being sent to jail, he learns martial arts from an old convict named Kurokawa (who tried to assassinate a politician...also with a knife) that helps him overcome his sex slave status bullying. He continues to study karate while at the same time becoming more and more of a sociopathic monster.

Fun for the Whole Family!

The series seems to be a critique of parents pushing their kids to hard in school and being too controlling, seeing as it's what makes Ryo violently attack his own. Whenever someone brings it up he seems truly pissed that he killed them. The manga also has a heavy theme of violence, as it aims to show the thin line between sport and self defense/murder.

Tropes used in Shamo include:
  • Abusive Parents: Implied a few times throughout the series.
  • Art Evolution: Not by much, but slowly and surely Akio Tanaka adds more facial details to character's faces as the series progresses.
  • Author Appeal/Doing It for the Art: Like Terrence Malick of the film industry, Akio Tanaka loves to have close up shots of various animals pop up throughout the series. Though much less so in recent chapters.
  • Badass Longcoat: Ryo's not a big fan of light clothing.
  • Beard of Evil: Ryo at the very very end of the Black monkey arc.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Both lampshaded and played straight. Because Ryo's parents are abusive he murders them. Because he murders them he's sent to the reformatory. Because he murdered his parents the inmates and staff treat him with extreme cruelty. And because of this he comes out much more vicious and depraved than to begin with.
  • Better the Devil You Know: Averted. The old Chinese master chooses the evil Ryo to defeat the only slightly more evil Black Monkey.
  • Bishounen: Toma Takahara. He's a famous ballet dancer.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Ryo spends the first 16 years of his life being a mild mannered perfect son. After that not so much
  • Bloodbath Villain Origin
  • Blood Knight: Ryo himself.
  • Blond Guys Are Evil
  • But Not Too Black: Fabio Sanshiro the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champ, he was introduced as someone who should have been black going by how others around him found his appearance unique, he was even called Macaca (misspelling of Macaco) at some point which is an offensive racial slur against blacks in Brazil. It was in the series' new run (Volume 20 and onward) that the art showed his ethnicity.
  • Cast of Snowflakes
  • Combat Pragmatist: Ryo uses actual self defense techniques, like always going for the eyes and groin. He even takes this to some pretty ridiculous extremes digging up dirt on his opponents and blackmailing them to drop out or a contest (so he can get the money of course)
  • Character Focus: Toma Takahara appears out of nowhere and the story suddenly becomes about him for several volumes.
  • Deconstruction: Arguably, the manga is a deconstruction of the Shonen fighting genre.
  • Child by Rape: Averted
  • Darker and Edgier: Quite possibly than any other fighting manga in existance
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Well at least Ryo and his sister seemed to think so
  • Determinator Ryo is almost purely this and hate. No matter how hellish his life is, no matter how many enemies he faces, no matter how large and invincible the people he fights are, no matter how seemingly impossible his goals are, no matter how much pain he is in, he will simply not give up.
  • Doomed Moral Victor: Ryo never outright wins even one of his main fights in the entire series. However he some how usualy comes out on top.
  • Driven to Suicide: Ryo's first girlfriend.
  • Disney Villain Death: For a series that normally averts such things, it's finally played straight in the case of Black Monkey.
  • Emotions vs. Stoicism: Ryo and Suwagara.
  • Evil Is Petty: Suwagara refuses to fight Ryo. Ryo decides that raping his girlfriend would be the perfect way to get Suwagara to change his mind.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Invoked - the thugs in the juvenile rehab center that Ryo's being held at are utterly disgusted at Ryo because he killed his parents, saying that not even they would do such a thing...while being far more despicable than Ryo was. Being a natural weakling doesn't really help Ryo's cause either.
  • Evil Feels Good: Or does it?
  • Evil Gloating: Ryo does this to Sugarawa about raping his girlfiend in their first match.
  • Evil Laugh: Ryo does this a few times.
  • Evil Makes You Ugly: Just look at the image at the top of the page.
  • Evil Mentor: Kurokawa, the person who teaches Ryo karate, thus prompting his descent into The Dark Side is a staunch traditionalist who tried to assassinate the Prime Minister for opening up foreign relations.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Both in the movie and manga, Toma mentions this about Ryo.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Ryo vs Black Monkey.
  • Evil Only Has to Win Once: Lampshaded. Ryo never outright wins any of his main fights. Though he does often come close.
  • Evil Virtues. Ryo may be a cheating, murderous rapist but he is also ambitious, hardworking, resorceful and determined.
  • Eye Scream: Quite a few times.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: For as Badass and invincible Ryo is often presented he never actually outright wins any of his main fights in the manga. He does however win against a few no names (sometimes) and its strongly implied that he has won many fights in the street outside of the ring. This in turn makes him out as a sort of Doomed Moral Victor
  • Heel Face Turn: In a bizarre example Ryo's teacher the man responsible for Ryo learning to become a ruthless martial artist sees the error of his ways and turns good durring the final days of his life. He even apologizes to Ryo and tries to get him to stop being as evil
  • Filler Arc: A lot consider the Black Monkey Arc to be so. Others say it was character development.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Take a wild guess.
  • Human Shield: Ryo uses Blue Monkey as this against Black Monkey, though oddly, no bullets were involved.
  • In Name Only: Now a Chinese indie film! With no gore and Chinese wuxia style!
  • Invincible Hero: Averted; Ryo loses/is disqualified from a fair number of fights even when he's cheating his ass off. He also goes months without training and becomes a wimp.
    • Also Ryo is by NO MEANS the strongest in the series. Literally every main fight he has he is outmatched (sometimes severely outmatched heck he even at one point gets beat up by a transvestite prostitute). And besides some filler fights he never outright wins any fight. However this is where his Villainous Valor comes into play.
  • I Will Find You: Ryo searching for his sister.
  • Lampshade Hanging: The "special sports program" that allows a karate master to teach children in a prison is lampshaded with one sentence. It refers to the martial arts program as "famous" implying it's very controversial and debated in the media. It's never mentioned again.
  • Light Is Not Good: It is VERY subtle in the series but it's there and arguably a main point of the series. One example is Mochizuki who depending on your point of view is actually the villain. Another is Ryo's family (particularly mom and dad) who on the surface seemed like good people. However Light Is Good is played straight with Toma
  • Mark of the Beast: In one scene early in the manga, Ryo marks up his body with paint in order to give himself a more "evil look" to which his girlfriend at the time replies, "You look like a devil."
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Ryo's sister says early on that she understands why he had to kill their parents.
  • Near Villain Victory: Happens to Ryo a lot. The most notable being the first fight between Ryo and Sugarawa.
  • Noodle Incident: The narration is never crystal clear about how much and to what extent Ryo's parents were hard or/and abusive with him, Ryo takes it as if they violated his very soul, but the narration makes it very fragmented and disconnected, after progression Ryo still resides in Unreliable Narrator territory when coming to his "abusive" parents. His sister does reinforce that they would have (possibly literally) wound up killing him if he didn't murder them first, but we're still never shown anything.
  • Prison Rape: Technically "reformatory rape", but the same principle applies.
  • Rage Against the Heavens
  • Reality Ensues
  • Post-Rape Taunt: Sugawara hallucinates Ryo mocking him with this.
  • Sex Is Evil: Always with Ryo. If he doesn't rape you he's working as a gigolo. And let's not forget the male/male rape scenes...or better yet, let's leave it unmentioned.
  • Shrinking Violet: Ryo is this, prior to learning karate.
  • Shout-Out: The female judoka that went against Toma is nicknamed "Yawara" referencing a famous real-life Japanese judoka, which in turn nicknamed Yawara after the Naoki Urasawa manga. So it's a two-layered reference!
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Just about every character has a serious character flaw and almost all of the traditionally "good" characters wind up horribly injured. Recent arcs are starting to slide the other way, though.
  • Start of Darkness: Seeing as what kicks off the story is the main character murdering his parents, this was a given.
  • Stupid Sexy Flanders: Toma invokes this more than once, but Sanshiro, the Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champ, is striken by it right on.

 Sanshiro: Shit! I ain't a fag! But I... I think he's beautiful!

  • Strike Me Down With All Of Your Hatered. To Toma volume 28 end.
  • Suicide Mission: Ryo vs Toma. Ryo gets injured before hand and knows the fight will aggravate his wounds to the point of killing him but still chooses to fight anyways.
  • Take Our Word for It: The picture Ryo draws as a child is apparently so disturbing that it made his teacher at the time retire. It is never shown in the series.
  • Taking You with Me: Ryo vows to do this to Toma in their fight.
  • Take That: Shamo really, really likes taking the piss out of MMA competitions.
  • Tournament Arc: 2 separate ones
  • Tragic Hero: The main character is an extremely dark example of this with more emphasis on the tragic than the hero part. Also Suwagara
  • The Unfettered
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid:
  • Villains Never Lie: Strangely, lying is one of the few offenses that Ryo doesn't commit. Go figure.
  • Villain Protagonist: Ryo is a murdering, cheating, rapist who only fights for the rush and money it brings. He's the main character. Bordering on Complete Monster.
  • Villainous Widow's Peak: At times
  • Violence Is the Only Option: And even when it isn't the only option, nobody hesitates to choose it as one.
  • What Could Have Been: Subverted. It has taken a long LONG time. The series has been canceled twice. And sometimes there are up to 5 years between issues but it looks like it will finally end in September 2012. But then again who knows
  • Will Not Be a Victim: Both Ryo and his sister - everything they do from murder to robbery to rape can be argued as them just wanting to survive. This concept is the primary motivation for all of Ryo's development. Whenever anybody does anything towards him, he almost always comes up with something to strike back, no matter how awful the means.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: Ryo and Sugarawa in their second fight.
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