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Souten Kouro is a manga written by Hagin Yi and drawn by King Gonta, based on the Sanguozhi, a chronicle of the Three Kingdoms period. Unlike Yokoyama Mitsuteru's Romance of the Three Kingdoms, it portrays Cao Cao Mengde as the hero. It lasted for 409 chapters (published in 36 volumes), even after the writer died.

Adapted into a 26-episode anime, starring Miyano Mamoru as Cao Cao.

Provides examples of:

  • Anti-Hero: Cao Cao.
  • Anti-Villain: Liu Bei, who although definitely not the Knight in Shining Armour of his Romance of the Three Kingdoms incarnation still seems pretty good-natured overall.
    • Based on the scene where he meets Guan Yu (only to end up getting Guan Yu and Zhang Fei to join him), and then the later scene where he realizes he has no idea how to actually rule, his motivation is to conquer the world "to see the people's smiles"...
  • Badass Grandpa: Cao Teng, Cao Cao's adoptive grandfather. He's a sweet old eunuch, but is known to sell official position at ten times the normal price. What really defines him as a badass is his visit to the Emperor in chapter 16, where he indirectly accuses Zhang Rang (without naming him) of being surrounded with women and having too much sexual desire because of his castration. When the Emperor recommends that the perpetrator, whoever he is, be banished, Cao Teng outright recommends hanging him. Bonus points for Zhang Rang being right next to the Emperor. Right after that, Cao Teng bluntly tells Zhang Rang in private that he will follow Cao Cao in Hell should anything bad happen.
  • Blood Knight: Lu Bu (not surprisingly) to such a degree that Cao Cao ends up commenting on it but is also able to exploit against Lu Bu, i.e. using himself as bait to lure Lu Bu into a valley, with an ambush set to destroy the troops diverted to support Lu Bu's pursuit.
  • Call Back: Liu Bei's sword dance in front of Cao Cao was suspiciously similar to the latter's in front of Zhang Rang many chapters previously.
  • Chaste Hero: Averted by Cao Cao. See Good People Have Good Sex.
    • His arch-rival Liu Bei is a Bishonen womanizer as well.
  • Clean Cut: Averted by Cao Cao. He's still a child, so the sword only goes halfway through the thug's neck. He proceeds to finish him off by jumping on the sword and making the thug's head fly off. Dang.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: Cao Cao is no slouch in court intrigue (that's why he lives past the first 30 chapters or so), yet ultimately prevalent corruption of Han court smothers all of his efforts.
  • Dude Looks Like a Lady: Zhuge Liang.
  • Fangs Are Evil: Thugs have a mouth full of them. Subverted when the Blast Gang joins Cao Cao.
  • Gentle Giant: Xu Chu. He does attempt to kill Cao Cao with a bronze bell, but he is good-natured and helps at a monastery.
  • Girl-On-Girl Is Hot: Played straight by Zhang Rang. The fact that he joins by probing Shui Jing's ass with a huge wooden dildo in the meantime is Squick to say the least
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: "Do you still not believe in Cao Cao Mengde's finger?"
  • Good Is Not Dumb: Cao Cao is serious about upholding the law, but he's not Lawful Stupid and knows a set-up when he sees it in his tenure as North Buwei of Luoyang (chief of police for the capital city's northern gate) in Chapter 24.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Cao Cao. The catch is that he first had sex aged 13 and that by the time he turned 16, he had had sex with seven prostitutes. And they liked it.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: Arguably Cao Cao. This troper is quite sure 10-year old kids didn't decapitate thieves back in the day.
    • Chapter 39 actually makes him the guy behind the banners declaring "Blue Heaven Already Dead" -- which in this story push Zhang Jiao from being against rebellion to leading the Yellow Turbans Rebellion, and thus Cao Cao is the one directly responsible for the event of the Three Kingdoms story.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Zhang Rang, leader of the 10 eunuchs. He manages to rape Shui Jing despite not having the necessary instrument
    • Likewise, Dong Zhuo is a major antagonist who was identified as the eventual despot by the child Xun Yu years before the Yellow Turbans Rebellion, and is himself a solidly-muscled man able to literally break down a wall with a hail of arrows, evade Diao Chan's assassination scheme, and immediately realize that the imperial edict for his execution was not by his puppet Emperor's own volition. Finally, in the anime (though not the manga) he goes down fighting, being the only person in the series besides Guan Yu to hold his own against Lu Bu in single combat until he's surprised by multiple spearmen, then has the misfortune of his sword breaking under Lu Bu's.
  • Idiot Savant: Xu Chu can predict the weather based on the moon's phases. Xu Chu doesn't know that there's only one moon.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Played straight with Zhang Rang and Shui Jing.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Applied by the thug in chapter 2 to Cao Cao. Who is ten. Cao Cao does get even, though.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Subverted. Cao Cao has a whole debate with Li Lie and defeats him with rhetoric... which buys Xu Chu enough time to come and blow his brains out.
  • The Messiah: Toyed with in the case of Cao Cao's co-opting the Yellow Turbans of Qingzhou by embracing the role, while Liu Bei considers himself upon Tao Qian's death to be "not the the good guy y'all think I am"... only for him to be taken aback when the peasants of Xu Province adore him as their savior and beg that he take up the governorship.
    • In Liu Bei's case it's subverted in that while he wants to conquer the world "to see the people's smiles," he has no real idea or concrete plan for how to do so, which he admitted to Guan Yu and Zhang Fei when asking them to join him -- and this comes back to bite him when Cao Cao wagers the capital and the emperor against the three brothers' lives, but then asks Liu Bei what he'd do with them if he won the wager -- and Liu Bei is completely stumped.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Both Cao Cao and Liu Bei ultimately strive to save the country, both don't mind the fact that they need to kill quite a few people to do so. After all, they'd both been leading armed forces before the events of the Yellow Turbans Rebellion, Cao Cao the Blast Gang (in addition to Xiahou Dun's own force) and Liu Bei the Demon Pouch.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Averted by the thief from chapter 2. He really didn't like Cao Cao staring at him.
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