Sum it up in a Sentence:
After murdering his parents and being sent to juvie, a young boy is forced to learn karate in order to conquer the unfair and brutal world around him.
Ryo Narushima was what most people would have considered to be a typical high school student. He had an older sister, and working parents. He did not live badly, and the family was fairly well off. Ryo himself was extremely talented and set to enter into the prestigious Tokyo University, with a seemingly bright future ahead of him.
One sunny summer day, Ryo Narushima killed his parents with a knife. He was sixteen years old.
Convicted and sent to a juvenile reformatory, he is enthrust into a brutal world that he, a book worm, cannot handle. He is abused by the other boys. But a man named Kenji Kurokawa, a convict himself, is sent to the reformatory to teach the boys Karate every week. Discovering that Ryo has a natural talent for karate, Kurokawa teaches him in order that he can defend himself.
From there, Ryo enters deeper into a world abandoned by society, fighting for his life and falling deeper into depravity and blood lust.
Shamo went on hiatus in 2007 due to a legal battle between series's artist and writer. It returned in 2011, now being created solely by the artist.
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Shamo is manga I really like. It's a story of the opposite flip of most sports manga. It's a story of cheating, deceit, cruelness, depravity, and violence. There is no dressing it up as justice or good. Ryo Narushima is an absolute asshole. But he is ultimately a product of his society; he was created by the world he rages against. And, in that, he is still something you root for. He is a horrible human being, but in a world of horribleness, he rallies against those who pretend its not. He is the darkness of the world struggling to show itself to the world of light. And in his struggle we seem some incredibly interesting characters and explorations. Shamo is a fantastic manga, especially if you're a bit of a sardonic soul like myself.
Unfortunately, it IS in that indefinite hold. I feel it's still worth reading regardless. It's quite excellent.