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"Dog, how do you get in space?"

An adventure/action manga and anime produced in the 1980s, serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump from 1983 to 1986 and published in 18 volumes. Its author, Yoshihiro Takahashi, took inspiration from an article he read about pet dogs that had run away from their owners or were abandoned by them, then lived in the wilderness. Subsequently he created a story about... pet dogs that had run away from their owners to live in the wilderness.

Yes, this story is about talking dogs. Not Petting Zoo People, actual animals.

Let's be more specific: it stars Gin, an Akita Inu pup and the son of the bear-hunting dog Riki. Riki and his owner, Gohei Takeda, had been hunting a deranged bear known as Akakabuto (based on a famous historical rogue bear who terrorized a town) after the bear killed Riki's father. Circumstances led to Gohei losing his leg, and Riki seemingly falling to his death. So Gohei needed a new hunting dog, and he chose Gin.

Months later, Gin, after having been trained by Gohei and returned to his original owner (a kid named Daisuke), leaves his friend to join a pack of wild dogs of many different breeds. It turns out that Riki survived, but with amnesia, and had formed a pack just to fight and finish off Akakabuto and his fellow bears. So begins an adventure involving many battles, travelling across Japan to find allies, and learning battle techniques.

Eventually, the manga was adapted into a 21-episode anime by Toei Animation, with Eiko Yamada as Gin and Banjo Ginga as Riki. This was subsequently dubbed into a number of Scandinavian languages, and it became popular enough in those countries to get uncut rereleases. Why "uncut"? Well, most notably, both the manga and the anime are extremely violent and gory - enough for one site to describe it as "said to be one of the most violent anime ever". Don't count on it being dubbed into English anytime soon.

There's a sequel series, Ginga Densetsu Weed, which follows Gin's son Weed. There's also a manga-only prequel named Ginga Densetsu Riki, which follows a young Riki.

Examples in the anime adaptation

  • A Father to His Men: Riki claims to be more than just a leader to his soldiers, he is their father and they are his children.
  • Alternate Animal Affection
  • A-Team Firing: Large groups of mooks firing rifles can't hit anything even at what appears to be close range.
  • Action Girl: Cross, especially in the manga where she does not step down after mothering her and Ben's puppies.
  • Always Chaotic Evil: Bears.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Gohei chops off his foot to feed it to Riki, so he can gain enough strength to make it back to the town and fetch help.
  • Animal Nemesis: Gohei's fixation on Akakabuto.
  • Annoying Arrows: There's a bear with three harpoons stuck in its back. I repeat, there's a bear with three harpoons stuck in its back.
    • Averted with the hunting bow, which is considered more powerful than some of the rifles.
  • Anyone Can Die
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: Giant killer bears terrorizing humans.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The pack leader is always the strongest fighter in the group.
    • Averted when Ben goes blind and has to pick a new leader for the pack. According to both him and Akame, anyone in the pack have the strength to be a leader, but Ben wants one who also have "determination and a strong sense of justice". The choice goes to Gin, despite him probably being (at least one of) the youngest of them. Of course he still turns out to be among the strongest on many occasions.
  • Badass Grandpa: Gohei, who is called grandpa by people who are in no way related to him. This is because in Japan (and some other countries) it's not uncommon to refer to elderly men as grandpa even if they aren't related to you.
  • Big Good: Riki
  • Big Guy: Moss, for the most part. And Benizakura, for the rest of the part.
  • Big Sleep: How both Akatora and Riki dies.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The victory during the final battle came with a high price. Totally worth it, though...
  • Black and White Morality: Pretty much. Bears are portrayed as mindless killing machines and humans poor victims. Although the first episode have the village leader call Gohei out on it being his fault that Akakabuto went crazy in the first place, said bear was still a wicked animal before his nerve system got damaged by Gohei's bullet, as even more clearly shown in the manga.
    • Averted once in episode 5, when Gin and Daisuke find out the bear they killed was really a mother trying to protect her cubs. Said cubs, even while being Akakabuto's, shows genuine grieve over their dead mother's body. Daisuke also points it out: "Did we do the same thing Akakabuto has done?"
    • Averted with the dogs. While most of the humans are categorized as victims, not all of the dogs are good (Kurojaki, Sniper etc).
  • Blind Idiot Translation: It's very easy to find an episode with ridiculous subtitles - some are easily Good Bad Translation-level ridiculous.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: One of the dogs in the army at the final battle loses control of his bladder when seeing Akakabuto for the first time.
  • Broken Aesop: The Big Lipped Alligator Moment mentioned above. To recap, at the very end of the episode, baby-killer came out of nowhere, threw a puppy off a cliff, put a member of the pack in lethal danger, and reflected badly on Lassie, and in the next episode, nobody cared. The scene was most likely an Aesop about how harming innocents to get back at someone is a bad thing, so... yeah. In all fairness, none of the already recruited characters got much love at this point, but it still came off as rather odd.
    • This was probably more due to adaption editing. In the manga, Wilson (the collie) explains how Kurojaki killed and ate his family before, hence why he intended to kill his son for revenge.
  • Cannibal Clan: The ninja dogs of Kouga.
  • Car Fu: Pulled off in the first episode with a snowmobile.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower
  • Chickification: Cross, moreso in the anime. She's the pack's only Action Girl, but ends up leaving them when she gets pregnant with Ben's pups, and doesn't even participate in the battle against Akakabuto despite it being narrated that she had a vendetta against the bear as well for causing the incident where her owner abandoned her. In the manga, however, she more or less is an Action Mom to her and Ben's babies.
  • Devil in Plain Sight: Sniper is a textbook example of this trope.
  • Did Not Do the Research Multiple instances, but the most egregious example has to be in the first episode: the depiction of newborn puppies is completely, hilariously inaccurate.
  • Driven to Suicide: Kurojaki and the Koga dogs
  • Dub Induced Plot Hole
  • Everything's Better with Spinning: Spinning attacks are the key to victory.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Kurojaki showed genuine worry for his son, and his apparent death was enough to set off his Berserk Button. Though possibly averted later as he ends up leaving him when given the choice to escape.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Riki is simply known as "The Leader" during most of the show up until his identity is "revealed" in the final episode.
  • Everything's Worse with Bears: This series is a textbook case of this.
  • Evil Chancellor: Sniper, being the second in command, is constantly scheming how to take over the pack and kill off his competition in elaborate schemes.
  • Excited Episode Title: Every (and this does mean every) episode title has at least one exclamation point for added excitement!
  • Eye Awaken: John's original owner Hidetoshi shoots a bear, thinks he's killed it and slowly approaches... the bear slightly opens it's eyes in what can only be described as playing dead to lure the hunter close and SMILES, before hurling itself towards Hidetoshi.
  • Eye Scream: Sickle through the eye, anyone?
  • Fake Defector: Terry
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: No lack of decapitations or animal violence here.
  • Final Battle: Akakabuto plays the role as the Final Boss.
  • Flash Step: Gin, Riki as well as the Koga and Iga dogs can do this.
  • Genre Shift: It starts out as an A Boy and His X series... and then the focus shifts to the dogs.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Akakabuto's single eye glows constantly throughout the series and even during the opening theme.
    • Even with both eyes gone, his sockets begin to glow, either being a stylistic choice or implying he's supernaturally powerful to some extent.
  • Go for the Eye: Plenty of the attacks in the series are aimed at the opponents eyes, often with gruesome results Terry, Kurotora, Akatora, Kurojaki, Akakabuto.
  • Grand Finale
  • Handicapped Badass: Akakabuto himself. Not to mention Ben starts to go blind and can still make his enemies bleed.
  • Heroic Dog: Most of the characters. Translation: lots.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: This happens all the time.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: A number of the seiyuus in this series can also be heard in Dragon Ball or Fist of the North Star. ie, Eiko Yamada (Gin) is Mai, Riki is Colonel Silver, Bora and King Vegeta but also was Souther, etc.
  • Hong Kong Dub: The Finnish dub is absolutely terrible about lip-synching, with characters usually still talking after their mouths no longer move or, conversely, their mouths moving after the line is over or even before the line even begins. Then again, the said dub was pretty much terrible about everything, including keeping character voices and names consistent and, y'know, actually acting.
  • Hot-Blooded: John.
  • Howl of Sorrow: So, so many.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Some dogs wield weapons - that itself is improbable. Kurojaki wields a kama, eventually getting Hoist by His Own Petard in his eye, and Gin later uses a similar trick with a branch to kill one of Akakabuto's followers.
  • Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: How about two clans of ninja dogs?
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: John and the Kai brothers, especially Kurotora.
  • Jump Scare: Bear jumping through a wall and mauling the people on the other side.
  • Just Between You and Me: Kurojaki reveals his plot of turning Ben's pack and the Iga clan against each other, which accomplishes nothing except making Gin and the Iga dogs ally against him, which ultimately leads to him losing the battle.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Riki
  • Life or Limb Decision: Gohei has to choose between sacrificing a limb as a last resort or die. As seen above, he feeds his own foot to Riki so he can regain strength and get help for him.
  • Luke, You Are My Father: Gin pulls this on Riki, who is suffering from amnesia and doesn't have a clue what he's talking about.
  • Kid Hero: Gin. Well, Pup Hero, but there you go.
  • Last of His Kind: Chibi/Tesshin (a Retcon in Ginga Densetsu Weed).
  • Loads and Loads of Characters
  • Made of Iron: A couple of the characters manage to hang on, even if they get shot in the eye, clawed, fell off a cliff, bitten, or in one case, all of the above.
    • Forget iron, Akame is most likely made of pure adamantium. He gets scythed in the neck by Kurojaki soon after his introduction and he has all but shrugged it off an hour or so later. That's just the beginning, though: later in the series he gets Shuga's spear-like front leg shoved into his stomach and the battle with White Tiger ends with the latter's (regular) leg paw-deep in Akame's neck. He barely minds these two injuries, by the way.
  • Manly Tears: Happens more than once, usually after a Heroic Sacrifice
  • Mega Manning: Gin only needs to watch a technique once before becoming an Instant Expert. Lampshaded once by Moss.
  • Monster Is a Mommy: Turns out that Gin and Daisuke's first kill was just a Mama Bear trying to protect her cubs. Daisuke, understandably, doesn't take it well.
  • Mooks: Every pack the heroes encounter contains foot soldier dogs that gets mowed down en masse during the fight.
  • Mook Chivalry: Averted. The enemies tend to attack en masse. This doesn't seem to be a problem for the heroes though.
  • My Name Is Inigo Montoya: Some of the characters are quite fond of introducing themselves before a battle, even to the bears, who wouldn't be able to understand them.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Cannibal ninja dogs with mohawks!
  • No Export for You: An English dub is yet to be produced, and considering this show is very old, it seems unlikely.
  • Not Quite Dead: Akakabuto, who took an onslaught of attacking dogs, bullet wounds, and THREE Zetsu Tenrou Battougas to finally die.
    • And Ben, who lived after a giant rock fell on him. Not to mention that throughout the serie, he also got poisoned, fell down a deep gorge, and suffered lots of straight blows from Akakabuto's claws that would most likely have killed any of the random dogs. The guy surely deserves a place in the Badass section for this.
  • Oh Crap: If you guessed that this happens a lot, you'd be right.
  • Official Couple: Ben and Cross.
  • Parental Abandonment: Riki "dies", inspiring Gin to become an avenger, only to have him dicking around with Laser-Guided Amnesia to kill the Big Bad later in the series. And then he dies for real.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: Gin
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Smith
  • "Previously On..."
  • Rasputinian Death: Akakabuto, after taking tons of attacks from dogs, rendered blind, endured two Zetsu Tenrou Battougas, and a gunshot, finally goes down after one final Zetsu Tenrou Battouga... that cut off his head.
  • Red Right Hand: Akakabuto's missing eye.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Hyena, does one final act of trying to prove his worth as a soldier of Ohu, jumping off a cliff with the intent of saving Ben after giving a little speech about how he used to be evil but wants to redeem himself, only to trip while charging down the cliff, screaming as he falls to his death. He is never seen again.
    • In the anime, no. In the manga, we see Ben, Sniper and Hyena as they all fell into a river. Hyena saves Ben from drowning, but is then killed by Sniper.
  • Rousing Speech: The dogs are about to square off with Akakabuto, but he has intimidated most of the soldiers in the pack; cue Riki with one of the most memorable entrances ever, delivering a rousing speech which makes everybody fit for fight again.
  • Rule of Cool
  • Taking You with Me: The Koga and Iga dogs are fond of this method
  • Scare Chord: Akakabuto is dead, all is well, Gohei hugs Riki and Gin, cue sentimental music... PSYCH!
  • She's a Man In Japan: Smith became female in one of the dubs, and Madara also suffered this.
    • It doesn't help that even in Japanese, it's incredibly easy to mistake Smith for a girl. See Viewer Gender Confusion.
  • Spinning Piledriver: As if Gin piledriving Kurojaki wasn't cool or damaging enough.
  • Split-Screen Reaction
  • Spoiler Title: Quite a few. "Benizakura's Blood-Red Last Moment!", anyone?
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Out of Cross and Ben's little ones, two are mini-Bens and the third one is a bitty Cross.
  • Storming the Castle
  • Talking Animal: All the dogs qualify.
  • Tears of Blood: Great (a Demoted to Extra character) cries blood at one point
  • The Hunter: Gohei
  • The Men First: When the pack is poisoned in the Iga village, Ben refuses to eat the antidote until everyone else has.
  • The Messiah: Gin already has some shades of this in the main story, but starts playing it more straight in the wolf arc.
  • The Musical: A bunch of fans got together and actually made a musical about a series centered around a bunch of dogs killing bears. Here's a link to their English homepage.
  • The Obi-Wan: Akame
  • The Quest: Find the strongest dogs in Japan to take down the Big Bad.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Cross is the only Action Girl in the platoon that Gin joins. Kinda justified as male dogs are larger and stronger than their female counterparts, and if the females had joined the war against Akakabuto, dogs in Japan would be well on the way to extinction...
  • Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: Cross, a Saluki and the sole female dog in Gin's group, is more slender than the other dogs AND has floppy ears that kinda resemble Girlish Pigtails.
  • Through a Face Full of Fur: Cross manages to blush in both instances where her pregnancy is revealed.
  • 'Tis Only a Bullet in the Brain: Akakabuto gets shot in his right eye and the bullet lodged in his brain stimulates his growth making him even bigger than he already is.
  • Training From Hell: Gohei puts Gin and other dogs he trained through this to make him a good bear-dog.
  • Training Montage: Near the beginning of episode 4 with Gin and Daisuke played to the opening song.
  • Try Not to Die: Gin and Akatora's parting words when they split up to storm their respective castles. Unfortunately, Akatora does die later, while pulling a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Typical Cartoon Animal Colors: Many of the dogs have colors that seem a tad bit off.
    • Hakuro is a bit notorious for this among the fandom. Not only is his nose inexplicably turquoise, but there are scenes where his usually tan and white fur is colored completely tan or dark brown, or even blue or green.
  • Welcome Back, Traitor: Hyena is forgiven his past transgressions, and is let back into the pack where he continues to remain more or less useless.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Chutora, after being informed by Gin that Cross is a female, refuses to fight her anymore. Even when she sinks her teeth into his neck he does little besides standing there and make a bored-sounding threat. In the manga, discovering that he has been fighting a female triggers a Berserk Button, and he proceeds to beat up the rest of the pack by himself.
  • You Have Failed Me: Harpoon Bear, we hardly knew ye.
    • In the manga, after Hyena proclaims his Heel Face Turn and falls down the gorge, he ends up in a river along with Ben and Sniper, and proceeds to save Ben from drowning. Not surprisingly, Sniper kills him shortly after for this.
  • You Won't Like How I Taste: Smith, mistaking the Iga dogs for the cannibalistic Kogas, says that they wouldn't like his taste because he is black and white. This refers to an earlier event where some Kogas actually did say that they find red dogs the tastiest ones.

Tropes used in the manga-only wolf arc