Thanks to series like Dragon Ball Z and Yu Yu Hakusho, by the ’90s, action shonen series had basically conquered the airwaves, and there were plenty of series which were quite good that fans have long forgotten about. One of the better series that never quite attained legendary status was Flame of Recca, a series which might seem quite familiar to fans of a certain orange jumpsuited ninja.
For people who’ve already seen every other major action series, this is a hidden gem that’s worth spending some time with. But what does any new fan need to know before jumping in? Here we detail everything on the series’ setting, the characters, and what shows it resembles the most.
10 WHAT IT’S ABOUT
Flame of Recca follows a young boy named Recca Hanabishi, who’s obsessed with ninja… even though he lives in the modern era. He spends much of his time training his ninja skills, and swearing that anyone who can beat him in a fight will earn his protection. His friends frequently try to beat him to turn him into their servant, but he never loses to them. Instead, he pledges his loyalty to a young woman named Yanagi, who he believes to be a princess. Yanagi has the power to heal anyone, and she becomes hunted by a variety of individuals.
9 CREATED BY NOBUYUKI ANZAI
Outside of the biggest manga, people never delve into the creators of these stories. Flame of Recca was created by the artist Nobuyuki Anzai when he was only 23 years old. He initially worked as an assistant under the creator of Ushio and Tora, Kazuhiro Fujita. Anzai has been quite the successful manga creator, with four different manga series running multiple years: Flame of Recca, MAR, MiXiM 11, and Metal Rock. Both Flame of Recca and MAR were adapted into anime series.
8 THE TRUE VILLAIN
All of Flame of Recca‘s antagonists are connected, as everyone’s wrapped up in a single story. This is in contrast to several other shonen series where arcs are totally disconnected, introducing new characters who have nothing to do with one another.
Characters will often claim to be antagonists, only to later reveal their motivations are benevolent in nature, and they’re actually additional protagonists to the story. The true villain remains in the shadows for most of the series, while Recca faces off against his brother, a talented flame ninja that has skills far beyond his younger brother.
7 NARUTO BEFORE NARUTO
One thing that people might not be aware of is how close Flame of Recca is to Naruto. Though Flame of Recca is set in the modern era, both storylines center on a lead character that wants desperately to attain the respect as a ninja. And while Naruto has the power of the Kyuubi fox within him, granting him incredible powers, Recca has the power of Eight Flame Dragons within his body. Recca’s also the son of the Hokage Clan, a special group of ninja boasting unique magical items.
6 SIMILAR TO YU YU HAKUSHO
It’s not difficult to draw parallels between this series and Yu Yu Hakusho. Its primary cast is a group of five compared to Yu Yu Hakusho’s four. The main character has a hidden past which grants him great power, and both casts are eventually invited to participate in a dangerous tournament. (More on that later.) It’s impossible to say this story wasn’t at the very least inspired by Yu Yu Hakusho, considering the manga began a year after Yu Yu Hakusho’s manga had ended.
5 PUBLISHED IN WEEKLY SHONEN SUNDAY
Flame of Recca was published in Weekly Shonen Sunday, which is probably how it got away with being so close to a Yu Yu Hakusho clone. Weekly Shonen Sunday is a magazine with roots going back to 1959. It’s been responsible for a number of famous manga titles, including Magi, Major, Zatch Bell, History’s Greatest Disciple Kenichi, and more. It’s home to creators like Rumiko Takahashi and Gosho Aoyama.
4 HAS A SET OF VIDEO GAMES
Flame of Recca was popular enough in Japan to get not one, but two different video games. In 2001, it got Flame of Recca: The Game for Game Boy Advance, which had only nine playable characters. A few years later, it got Flame of Recca: Final Burning, a game that featured 24 characters and came out on PS2. The game was a mix between being a fighting game and a proper adventure title.
3 HAS A MAJOR TOURNAMENT ARC
What Flame of Recca is probably most known for is its tournament arc. Doubtlessly inspired by Yu Yu Hakusho‘s Dark Tournament, it doesn’t slack behind in having a pretty intense storyline built around one deadly martial arts tournament.
Towards the middle of the series, Recca forms a group with his friends known as “Team Hokage” (like Team Urameshi) and enters the Ura Buto Satsujin, a tournament where fighters compete utilizing the ninja tools of the Hokage ninja clan.
2 LEGENDARY VOICE CAST
A series that got an anime back in 1997, it’s no surprise that several of the voice actors went on to be complete legends. Mikagami is voiced by Hikaru Midorikawa, that’s worked dozens of roles and is best known for Heero Yuy, Lancer from Fate/Zero, and most recently Garo from One Punch Man. Domon is voiced by Nobuo Tobita, known for Kamille from Zeta Gundam, and 04 from Cyborg 009.
1 BEST TO READ THE MANGA
This series has a fairly decent adaptation until the second half of the series. There, unfortunately, it began to catch up with the anime and the studio (Studio Pierrot) wasn’t willing to create a bunch of filler to allow the manga to get ahead. As a result, the ending is easily one of the worst storylines ever. The manga continues for another two arcs, and gives proper closure—it’s best to check that out over the anime.
From the manga and creators to voice actors and success, this is everything curious anime fans need to know about Flame of Recca.