Fight or Be Beaten in Street Fighting Manga “Holy Land” (OWLS Blog Tour)

Hello! Otaku Warriors for Liberty & Self-Respect (OWLS) are now on our 11th blog tour. This month, we are discussing a difficult topic “Diplomacy”. If you haven’t done so yet, please check out Lita’s tour post “Some Of Us Are Lovers Not Fighters” on her blog Lita Kino Anime Corner.


“Diplomacy” November Blog Tour

Whenever we have a disagreement with someone, we use our words to express our thoughts and opinions. However, there are those who would rather use fists instead of words, those who forget that being “right” isn’t the most important thing, and those who lose sight of compromising and acknowledging differences in opinion and belief. Diplomacy is an important skill and tactic that not many of us have or are able to utilize properly especially in “social media wars” for sensitive issues and anime discourse—we just express our opinions without really listening. For this month’s prompt, we will be exploring some of the best negotiations scenes in pop culture media and discuss how effective these diplomatic moments are and what we can learn from them. We will also discuss why communication and listening are important traits to have and whether or not there are other means to enforce peace.

Holy Land (ホーリーランド) is a street fighting manga by Mori Kouji (森恒二). It has been adapted into both Japanese and Korean live-action TV series. This manga, in its core, represents an antithesis of diplomacy.

The main protagonist, Kamishiro Yuu (神代 ユウ), is bullied almost all his entire school life. As a result, he becomes a hikikomori which, surprisingly, is accepted and even encouraged by his family. (I know, right? What a family). The constant bullying has made him feel helpless, hopeless, weak and inferior to the point that he almost commits suicide. All he wants is a place to belong where he could feel accepted—a place he calls his “holy land”. Eventually, he decides that his “holy land” are the streets. He wants to be able to walk the streets freely without being constantly harassed because he looks weak. For him, there are only two choices: to run away or to fight. If he runs away, his “holy land”—the place he wants to belong in—will forever escape him. So he chooses to fight. It’s fight or be beaten.

He reads a book about boxing basics at a bookstore. He practices how to throw a straight thousands of times a day. Since he’s a hikikomori, he has the luxury of time to practice just this one move. He also strengthens his body, building muscles so his straights pack power. This self-imposed training has become a religion to Kamishiro, as if it’s the only thing tethering him to sanity. Gradually, he perfects throwing straights and his body becomes leaner and more muscular. Now he has a very basic skill (only one move) to fight. Later on in the series, he learns more moves and techniques as he gains more street fighting experience. Whenever he is harassed while walking the streets, even when he’s shaking and feels like he’s going to pee his pants, his training has splendidly borne fruit and he is able to beat down bullies before they could hurt him.

Kamishiro decides to use his fists instead of diplomacy. However, I just can’t fault him for this. Learning the art of diplomacy is certainly the ideal in settling conflicts, but I argue that there are exceptions. In the case of Kamishiro, his earlier bullies are his teenage schoolmates. Peer pressure drives these teens to bully in the wrong assumption that by doing so they’re displaying how cool, strong and dominant they are. They bully because their “friends” egg them on, scorning the one who doesn’t want to partake as a coward. When things go violent and your safety is threatened, will you just grit your teeth, endure the beating, and still insist that diplomacy is the solution? If you say yes, then wow. You’re really something. Because I side with Kamishiro on this one. If I judge a situation to be too dangerous for me, I won’t hesitate to attack and protect myself. It’s not violence. It’s self-defense.

There are just times that diplomacy is ineffective. Last year I wrote a post titled “I Survived an Attempted Sexual Assault” where I share my scary experience of being trapped by a male pervert while riding a bus. No matter how many times I analyze the experience in my mind, I don’t think diplomacy would have saved me. What was I supposed to do? Talk to the pervert and say, “I know you plan on sexually assaulting me but before you try to do that, let’s talk about why you shouldn’t assault me”? No way. The pervert’s facial expression showed lust and the unmistakable eyes of a predator about to attack his prey (me). What’s more, he already physically trapped me. My intuition told me that words would just excite him even more, so I decided to use aggressive force instead to create a chance for me to escape. When I say aggressive force, I don’t mean violence but self-defense.

If you train in martial arts, chances are that it’s for self-defense. I’ll assume that you didn’t train in martial arts just so you could use your skills and power to bully and beat others. At the start of the manga, Kamishiro learns how to fight for self-defense. Some of you might disagree with me, but I think that he did the right thing. I personally prefer to settle conflicts diplomatically, but like I said there are times when it’s ineffective. Most of the people harassing Kamishiro are bullies and high school gangsters. These are teens, and although I have met some mature and level-headed teenagers, most are still at the mercy of peer pressure and mob mentality. We were all teens once. You know what I mean. They won’t respond easily to diplomatic attempts. Later on in the series, Kamishiro faces drug addicts. Diplomacy is virtually useless when the person’s mind is addled by dangerous drugs. They literally can’t respond to diplomatic attempts because they don’t have the mental capacity to do so, unless they are treated and rehabilitated until all traces of the drugs are flushed out of their system.

Kamishiro becomes infamous and eventually becomes a full-fledged street fighter, earning the moniker “Yankee Hunter” (ヤンキー狩り / Yankīgari). “Yankee” means “delinquent” in Japanese. His journey as a street fighter is a great example of demonstrating situations where diplomacy is ineffective because the other parties either refuse to listen, or are too addicted to drugs to listen, or simply too warped in personality to respond to any attempts in communication except for fighting. He also demonstrates that there are times when using fists is actually more effective than diplomacy, especially when the other parties develop respect for him or are simply too scared to bother him again. However, Kamishiro is also an example showing that using fists is not the answer to all kinds of conflict. As he fights more people and beats them, more seek him out for revenge and also people appear who just want to fight him to test their own strength. The fighting never stops.

I still believe that diplomacy is a great method in settling conflicts. It also has the advantage of keeping peace without any physical altercation or making one side feel more inferior than the other. In contrast, fighting with fists leaves not only a bruised body but also a bruised ego which often festers into a desire for revenge. Then the cycle of violence continues. However, I’m also realistic enough to recognize that there are situations that diplomacy is not effective. So what should we do in these situations? I say that if our safety or (God forbid it) our lives are threatened, then we have to do everything we can for survival even if it means fighting. In this case, fighting for self-defense and not because we enjoy beating people.

There’s a big difference between using our fists to protect ourselves versus using our fists to punish someone either for revenge or for the thrill. My point is instead of sticking to just one method, I think it’s more practical to learn both diplomacy and self-defense equally. In addition, we should also develop the skill of analyzing any predicament and choosing the method, whether it’s diplomacy or self-defense, which will get us out of a situation as quickly and as safely as possible.

Conflicts vary and consist of different factors, so I think that it only makes sense to learn different methods in dealing with them. Don’t fight all the time. Choose your battles. You don’t rush into a battlefield with just a single weapon. You strategize and then equip yourself well. Diplomacy is the white flag of peace but before you wave it, make sure that the other party is open for discussion and not some blood-thirsty lunatic who’ll paint your white flag red with blood just for the thrill of it.


Thank you for reading my tour post. After me is my kapatid Hazelyn (Archi-Anime) with her post “The Guise of Diplomacy: Bungou Stray Dogs”. I also invite you to check out all the other participants of this blog tour. For the full schedule of our November “Diplomacy” Blog Tour, click here.

If you have any questions about our group Otaku Warriors for Liberty & Self-Respect (OWLS) or are interested in joining us as a member, please visit our official blog. You can also find us onTwitter and Facebook. We welcome new, committed members.

Free to be ME,
Arria (OWLS Secretary)


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5 thoughts on “Fight or Be Beaten in Street Fighting Manga “Holy Land” (OWLS Blog Tour)”

  1. Great and very will written post. I have mentioned several times on my blog that I have been bullied quite a bit in the past, and it leaves it’s scars. Never having taken selfdefence classes, it’s something that I wish I would have done. Because you are so right…not everything can be solved in a diplomatic way. I always try to do that anyway, but honestly with some people the diplomatic way just doesn’t work 😢

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Diplomacy is really just another weapon, another tool, another form of conflict, but very specialized. As you say, you don’t just rush into every situation with only one weapon, the same weapon every time. One must adapt one’s approach as needed. Indeed, sometimes diplomacy can only work when you have the physical power to support it. It’s like when two dogs growl at each other: they haven’t hurt each other yet, but they’re stating that they can and will. The ability to be violent gives weight to the threat of it, which gives weight to the words we use to avoid it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I completely agree with Mer-san, diplomacy is sort of another weapon even if it the lack of using weapons.
      Sometimes, violence cannot be helped, and like you said Arria-san, it’s self-defence.

      Liked by 1 person

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