Monday, April 11, 2011

Koenji – The real life experience of “Friendship Power”

The friendships I have made through Nama Niku are the best reward this ol' Yudekkii could ask for.  Connecting with Kinnikuman fans from all over the world by sharing collections, stories and news has been priceless.

As mentioned in my previous post, I am absolutely thrilled to be able to share a perfect example of true Kinniku  友情パワー/Friendship Power from my loyal Nama Niku reader and friend, Evan.

Please enjoy the following Kinniku pilgrimage story as written by Evan!!!
"Koenji – The real life experience of “Friendship Power”

I tell Brit that we still have to visit BamBam88 as they are open until 8, and it was only around 6. This time, I actually had exact direction and a map to get there (whew!), so we get to the station and board the appropriate train, leave the station, and read the map as if the place is like 10 miles away. So, we say we’re gonna get a cab.

We go to the first taxi driver, and show him the map. He explains that it will take us about 2 minutes, and all we have to do is walk down the hill directly in front of us. HAHA!

Well, we do, then I see it…the BamBam88 sign. As we get closer, I see mock-old school UFC sign that says Suguru Fighting Championship.

AWESOME!! I am about to flip my lid. The place I’d been looking at online and reading about was right there.

We walk up a spiral staircase and walk inside.


The place is small, and chock full of Kinnikuman stuff.

Immediately, I see a Kinnikuman Pachinko machine.

There is wrestling memorabilia everywhere in this place.

A few display cases and clothes racks with old school wrestling and Kinnikuman OFFICIAL “Muscle Apparel”. The guy greets us from up a small stairway. He comes down and looks shocked that we are not Japanese. He says he speaks a little English, I say I speak a little Japanese. Whew! He also asks where we are from, and is genuinely surprised when we say we are American. As we are looking, I notice that Offspring is playing on the radio. AWESOME.

He tells us to let him know if we need any help. I ask if we can take pictures, and he enthusiastically says we can. I am going through everything there. All over the damn place. When I make it to the clothes, I see that all the FAT ASS AMERICAN sizes are gone.


So, I ask him if he has any LL (XL, but more like large and a half for F.A.A. {fat ass Americans}). He vanishes and starts looking. I grab a bunch of stickers and I look up the stairs and see like a 20 inch computer monitor. SHIT!! And its surrounded by all kinds of Kinnikuman figures, large and small.

I see boxes everywhere and flyers and manga and everything. I couldn’t believe that I was in the same room with all this stuff. It was the stores personal collection. The guy comes back and hands me a few shirts to choose from, and I go for Robin Mask’s portrait. Then, he starts putting the figures together and forming the tag teams from the show: He even announces them in the voice from the show! “ZA MOSTO DENGORASU COMBO!!”

and I am so stoked!! Not many of my friends dig Kinnikuman as it is an old as hell series that was never translated to English professionally, and most people just know M.U.S.C.L.E. figures but don’t know any back story. But here, I am with one of my own. This guy spent the same nights I did watching the trials that Suguru, Terry, and Meat went through…the huge plot twists, character developments, people dying…he lived it just like I did. This guy was a Kinnikuman fan, and it showed. He asked us to hold on for a second and started going through the boxes all over the store, throwing things around and digging. I figure he’s got even more figures to show us. Well, he walks out with a hand drawn and signed Kinnikuman picture, done by the duo Yudetamago.

I was stunned. I even said “Holy shit!”. And then….man, I’m tearing up just remembering this, then he says “It’s a gift.” And he hands it to me.

I think if Brit got a picture of my face, it may have been the key to world peace, because I probably looked fucking ridiculous and no one could be mad if they ever saw the face I made.

I bowed and thanked him in the absolute most humble and gracious Japanese that I could. I fell to my knees and bowed on the god damn floor to this guy.

Evan, are you retarded? Why are you being such an idiot?

Well, why don’t you look up this thing in which I received and find out exactly how much it is worth, AND MAYBE THEN WE CAN TALK.

I couldn’t believe it. This thing is worth hundreds, and he fucking GAVE it to me. I gave him every single Monster Party cd in my bag. But wait! He’s not done!

He tells us to wait again, and comes back with A SIGNED KINNIKUMAN ACTION FIGURE FOR BRIT!!

Man, this was really a dream come true for me.

I hope in my heart that the dude understood what he did for me that night. To anyone else, we could have just been some American dudes who came to his store. But, as crazy as it sounds, I think he could tell that I really loved the Kinnikuman series. Yes, it is silly, it’s about pro wrestling and fighting monsters and super heroes, but if you ask Yudetamago what it is about, they will tell you every time: It is about realizing we can set aside our differences no matter who we are or what we look like, and that we can be friends.

That is friendship power. It’s what makes tag teams great. It’s the feeling you get when you and your friend quote lines from a show you both love. The feeling you get when you can hold a deep conversation about something you both are into. It’s that unbreakable feeling you get when you know you have someone you can count on. It’s a bond that grows stronger with experience. High fives, dumb jokes, all of those things are what they are trying to explain to us. These things are “Friendship Power”, the force which pushes you when you think you can’t go any further, and picks you up when you fall down.

I think he could sense that I had the spirit of one who understands Friendship Power. Why else would he give us these things that are worth so much? He didn’t know us, we didn’t even exchange names. But he did this for us. It is and always will be one of the most intensely emotional experiences of my life, and I will never forget it.

I know I am getting pretty deep here, but I am trying to make a point. Kinnikuman is a metaphor for getting past our ego bullshit, and trying to make the world a better place. THAT is why I love it. I understand it. Of course, there are some fart jokes, and he says some of the dumbest shit in the world, but Suguru Kinniku has his heart in the right place.

Thank you, BamBam88 for helping me understand this truth on an even deeper level.  I could not have asked for a better experience when I walked into your shop. Sincerely, from my heart, thank you.


Thanks again Evan for letting me use your story! Check out his original post on FB for even more pics and BamBam88 goodness!


  1. I hope people read this and go directly to BamBam and buy everything in the store!! This will always be a special moment in my life. Thank you so much for sharing it!!!

  2. Wow that is an amazing story! Yay Friendship Power!!

  3. YESSS!!!!!! Good job Evan you made on Nama Niku. I still get chills every time i read this. -Britt