Before Danny “The King” Kingad became a global martial arts superstar with ONE Championship, he was like many other kids growing up in Baguio City, Philippines.
He bonded with his family members, played with his friends, and watched plenty of Japanese anime shows on free-to-air television.
Those anime programs came on during the late afternoon, just as elementary school ended for the day.
“Back then, I was so excited about going home after school so I could catch all the shows,” the 24-year-old flyweight recalls.
Kingad’s passion for anime still runs deep. The Baguio City native is much busier nowadays, but he will check out some of his most beloved childhood shows when he can take a break from his hectic schedule and unwind.
“I still watch from time to time,” the real-life Super Saiyan adds. “I look back on my favorites when I have the time.”
Now, with some spare time on his hands, “The King” reflects on his childhood and lists his five favorite anime shows.
#1 Flame Of Recca
Flame Of Recca is a story about a kid named Recca Hanabishi. He dreamed of being a ninja, but later found out that he was the son of a Hokage – a powerful ninja clan that was wiped out in the past.
In the story, Recca’s mother used forbidden magic to send him to the future in order to spare his life from the eventual slaughter of their clan.
Born in the future, Recca tries to control eight Flame Dragons, which manifest themselves into Hokage leaders, in his journey to becoming recognized as a true Hokage leader.
Kingad was not too fond of ranking all five of his favorite anime shows, but this one tops his list.
“Among all five, Flame Of Recca stands out the most,” he says. “I remember being amazed at [Recca’s] tattoo with Chinese characters and all because it can also summon his dragons. I truly enjoy characters like that.”
#2 Slam Dunk
Many kids who grew up in the Philippines are familiar with Hanamichi Sakuragi and the Shohoku team’s quest to become the top high school basketball team in their district.
With basketball treated as a religion in the country, it is not surprising that this anime show would have so much appeal to Filipino youth – and Kingad is no exception.
The story revolves around the show’s main protagonist Sakuragi, a hot-headed delinquent who would later focus his energy on basketball.
If that sounds familiar, then it is probably because the story is eerily similar to Kingad’s transformation from a troubled young man to a successful world-class athlete.
“I love Slam Dunk,” he shares. “I love its storytelling, and the characters are all lovable and funny. Then, of course, you have Sakuragi, their lead character. “
#3 Baki The Grappler
Speaking of familiarity and foreshadowing, the next anime show on Kingad’s list resembles what he is doing now.
The show’s main protagonist is Baki Hanma, a high school kid who aspires to follow in his father’s footsteps and become one of the most powerful fighters in the world.
Baki competes in no-rules hand-to-hand combat in an underground arena, where he puts his skills to the test against legitimate martial artists and, sometimes, ex-convicts.
Kingad would become a professional mixed martial artist and a top contender in ONE Championship’s flyweight division, but he was not necessarily influenced by this program. He just liked watching it.
“We were so fascinated with Baki’s tournaments. They’re competing and they’re wrestling, and I was just so fascinated,” the Team Lakay representative says.
“Right now, it’s my profession, but I never imagined that I would be doing it in the future. I just really enjoyed that show as a kid.”
#4 Dragon Ball Z
In this list, there is no anime bigger than the Dragon Ball franchise, which has spawned into four major television series, a web show, and 18 stand-alone films.
The most famous offering in the franchise is Dragon Ball Z, as it highlights the transition of its lead character – Son Goku – in becoming one of the strongest Saiyans ever and protecting the universe from different threats.
With its diverse characters, riveting storylines, and unbelievable fight scenes, it should not be surprising to find this anime series in most top ten lists.
“Dragon Ball stands out because they are all so powerful,” Kingad explains.
“They also have dragons (Shenron), so when you’re a kid, you’re so fascinated by that. Then, of course, Dragon Ball’s story is epic!”
#5 One Piece
One Piece is a show about a young pirate named Monkey D. Luffy and his crew’s search for that “one piece,” which happens to be the world’s most valuable treasure. By obtaining it, he can be recognized as the true pirate king.
Unlike some of the lead characters in this list, Monkey D. Luffy’s powers are unique. After eating the “Devil Fruit,” his body gained the structure of rubbers, which gives him elasticity.
Like Dragon Ball, One Piece also ranks as one of the biggest anime franchises in the world. In fact, it has produced 14 stand-alone films.
“To complete everything, it’s One Piece,” Kingad offers.
“It’s a story about pirates who embark on a journey, and it’s really entertaining. Their powers are different, and the lead character’s arms extend and he uses it as his power.”
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