- "Pure Vice vs. Pure Virtue. Can one win without corrupting the other?!"
Karakuri Dôji Ultimo (機巧童子 ULTIMO, Karakuri Dôji Urutimo, lit. "Mechanical Robot: Ultimo"), commonly referred to as Ultimo, is a manga series created by Hiroyuki Takei and Stan Lee. The series ran from from April 18, 2008 until it concluded on October 16, 2015.
- Original Concept: Stan Lee
- Story and Art: Stan Lee (Story) and Hiroyuki Takei (Story and Art)
- Inker: DAIGO (Chapters 1-24), HIRO (Chapters 25-51)
- Painter: BOB (former), PAP (former), HIRO
In the year 2989, a well-respected scientist named Roger Dunstan unleashes his "last curse on the world" in the form of two Karakuri Dôji - Ultimo and Vice. Their purpose is to do battle to find out once and for which force is greater - good, or evil. He later made more Karakuri Dôji to fight alongside Ultimo and Vice, equaling to 100 in total.
In 12th Century Kyoto, as Dunstan is supposedly carrying two boxes containing Ultimo and Vice, he encounters a bandit group, lead by a young man named Yamato. They open the boxes, awakening the two dôji, and thus starting the everlasting battle of good and evil.
Centuries later, Yamato Agari, an ordinary high school student and the reincarnation of the bandit leader, once again encounters Ultimo and becomes his master. He soon finds out, though, that the battle is still ongoing, and that this time it will involve his family, friends, and enemies. Along the way, he learns more about Roger Dunstan, the Karakuri Dôji, his friends and enemies' past, and what is truly good and evil.
The series has a wide variety of characters made up of humans and Karakuri Dôji created by Roger Dunstan, which makes up at least half of the characters in series. The main character is Yamato Agari and his dôji, Ultimo, the greatest good of the Dôji and against them K and Vice, the most evil of all dôji. Other characters includes Yamato's allies, The Good Dôji Club and school friends, such as Makoto Sayama, whom he has a crush on. Opposing them are The Evil Dôji Branch, consisting of evil dôji and their masters, such as Yamato's best friend, Rune Kodaira and one of the more frequently seen dôji, Jealous.
Many human characters (except Roger Dunstan and Musashi Murayama) also had incarnations in the 12th century, that greatly effects who they are now in the 21st century and why they become masters of the dôji. The characters' incarnations appears throughout the series as flashbacks and reincarnations in the 12th century reappear in the present, although some are a bit different, such as was the case with Rune, who was a princess named Lady Gekko.
- "Part I introduced the story. Part II introduces the players. Part III is going to take all of what you think you know and turn it upside down!"
- ―Hiroyuki Takei[src]
Ultimo and Vice were created in the 12th century Kyoto to be "perfect good" and "perfect evil" as Roger Dunstan's "last curse upon this world". A thousand years later, a monster wearing a Noh-mask wreaks havoc in the Farmless city of West Tokyo, while the S.K.A.T. Police unit cannot stop it. Ultimo plunges in to destroy the monster, explaining that the creature is about to show its true form, Vice, Ultimo's evil counterpart.
The mechanical boys end their fight, both being badly damaged, and the movement of select groups around Japan begins. Meanwhile, K, a member of S.K.A.T, found Vice's severed arm that he lost during his battle with Ultimo, and Ultimo was found in the mountains by an old man, Taiji Kokubun.
In the Heian period, a group of bandits and their leader, Yamato, planned to steal two boxes from Roger Dunstan. They meet the Karakuri Dôji (mechanical boys), Ultimo and Vice, and started their everlasting battle between good and evil. Upon Vice's awakening, he killed six of Yamato's men, but Yamato's loyalty and love for the bandits that he treats as family, he stands against Vice to protect them. Seeing this, Ultimo decided to side with them, resulting in Yamato becoming his master and sharing many adventures together, as well meeting more dôji and their masters that Dunstan made.
In the 21st Century, Yamato Agari, a normal high school boy and the reincarnation of the bandit leader, once again encounters Ultimo, Vice and his master, K. His life is turned upside down, quickly involved in the conflict with the Karakuri Dôji once again, meeting even more dôji and their masters, but also remembering his past as a bandit. During school and day of the One Hundred Machine Funeral, he got into a fight with Hana Koganei and Edile, and finds out that his best friend, Rune Kodaira, is Jealous' new master.
Near Mt. Fuji, Yamato comes in contact with The Evil Dôji Branch and watches in horror as they kill his allies, The Good Dôji Club. In a moment of distress after finding out that he is the reason for the world's destruction, Yamato turns back time to the day before the 100 Machine Funeral to prevent the destruction from happening.
Back to the day before the One Hundred Machine Funeral, everything is back to normal. The world is safe and his best friend, Rune Kodaira, is not Jealous' master, but Yamato remembers what happened before. Outside of Kokubundo Shoppe, Yamato knows that Ultimo is inside, but decides to leave him for now until he figure things out. At school, Yamato discovers Musashi Murayama, whom also remembers what happened during the Machine Funeral, transferred to his school. They talk about what happen at the Machine Funeral, Roger Dunstan and Milieu, and his plans. Murayama threatens Yamato with a ray gun and tells him to make a choice - leave Ultimo alone or they both get killed by him, but after Yamato hesitates, Murayama tells him to go talk to Shin Ekoda, where there might a third option.
At Eco Sushi, Eco tells Yamato to learn for himself the meanings of "good and evil" by meeting each of the dôji, their masters, and learn about their past by using Ultimo's powers. On his way to get Ultimo, Yamato encounters Tomomitsu Iruma and Jealous at Kokubundo Shoppe, resulting in a fight, but Ultimo wakes up to save him. After a chase through the city and Murayama and his dôji, Sophia rescuing them, Yamato travels back to the 12th century to learn about Iruma's past.
While Yamato meets and learns about Iruma, Roger Dunstan gives Jealous to him, resulting in bringing out Iruma's evil side to the surface. Yamato finds Iruma in his room and confronts him, finding out his source of jealousy, and nearly getting killed by Jealous. However, Dunstan and Milieu save Yamato, and he learns for himself that Dunstan is invincible. He goes back to the present, where he finds Murayama about to "clean up" Iruma and Jealous. Not wanting Murayama to erase his memories, Yamato engages Murayama in a fight and gives Iruma a chance to stab Murayama, but gets killed by Jealous once again, who wants Yamato as his master. However, he is unable to and plans to use Rune as Yamato falls unconscious and wakes up at Shakujii Medical with an injured Murayama, Ultimo and Sophia asleep from fatigue, and a dead Iruma.
Yamato resolves to defeat to Dunstan and carries Ultimo back to Eco Sushi, but since he can't do anything right now, he goes to Makoto Sayama's birthday party and meets up with Rune, who once again became Jealous' master. At the party, he meets the evil dôji master Akira Hidaka, and who is close to Sayama, which makes Yamato to cause a ruckus. This ends up causing Sayama to get mad, then Rune lies to a greatly depresses Yamato and gets him to agree to go his house. Meanwhile Vice attacks Koun Shakujii, Hiroshi Kumegawa, Machi Shina and their dôji at their hideout, Shakujii Medical. Vice kills Shakujii and injures Pardonner, provoking Hiroshi and Machi to combine into their ICON mode with Goge and Slow to fight him. However, Vice is too powerful and he greatly injures Hiroshi, but Eco comes to save them as God Regla, telling them to flee. Vice ends up killing Eco by stabbing him, but not before Eco uses Regla full powers to give his will, memories, and everything he knows about Vice to all the masters that will live to see the One Hundred Machine Funeral.
Yamato goes to Rune's mansion, where Rune revealed to be Jealous' master again and then stripped him into his boxers and tied him down to his bed to "unite" them and make him Jealous's new master, but Yamato was able to take Rune hostage and they go into Darumada Masami's police car, who is a reincarnation of Yamato's old bandit friend. Meanwhile, his friends Makoto Sayama, Akitsu Otake, Kiyose Matsumoto, and Hibari Oume received memories of their past lives from Shin Ekoda and Regla. Worried, Akira Hidaka sends a report to Sumako Miyoshi and her dôji, Désir, to investigate, and later, he gets a text message from K.
While in the car, Yamato and Rune talk about what happen in the past and via the memories Eco sent him, Yamato finally learns what Ultimo has been hiding from him: he killed Lady Gekko. Following them are Sumako Miyoshi and Désir, then attack them, causing a speed chase between the two cars. Yoichi Oizumi and his dôji, Service, comes to their rescue and defeats Désir, but Rune and Jealous transform into their ICON and takes the two away because he also got a text from K. Before leaving, Rune proclaimed that he will fight Yamato in the future and severs his connection from him, but Duramada calmly tell Yamato is will be okay and takes him see his old bandit friend, Hyottoko.
As The Evil Dôji Branch gather around the Sparrow Place in their human forms and Vice talk to them about how they will win the One Hundred Machine Funeral. Suddenly, Roger Dunstan and Milieu appears before them, causing most to panic and Vice challenging him to a fight, but Dunstan transforms with Milieu into their ICON. Meanwhile, Yamato arrived to a mafia hideout to find his friend Hyottoko, now named "Hyoe Tokorozawa" and a boss of a mafia group, Hiroshi Kumegawa, and Machi Shina. Hyoe wants Yamato to be their leader, but also talks about what happen recently and about his friends, specifically Makoto Sayama, who was a child that belong to his group of bandits in the past life. Later, Yamato contemplates on the building's roof and finds that Musashi Murayama brought Sayama and mentions about her past life, and Hyoe and Darumada comes back with a sleeping Ultimo.
Yamato transforms into God Ultimo and goes to save the evil dôji and their masters from Dunstan and Milieu. Upon arriving, Dunstan has defeated Vice and K, but everyone is surprised to see him, with Yoichi, Service, and Musashi and Sophia in their ICON mode. Along with them, are Sayama as the new master of Regla, and her friends, Otake, Oume, and Matsumoto as the new masters of Goge, Slow and Pardonner respectively. They are all unable to defeat Dunstan, who mocks Yamato and explains the rules of Machine Funeral and set the one year time-limit. The next day, Yamato, Musashi, and Rune all go to school like nothing happened, but encountered Jealous on their way. Meanwhile, a heavily bandage K rest in bed and Vice goes for a walk to think about what happen last night. A young boy named Jun Chichibu appears before Vice, who found out about Vice via Internet, and chattering about how much he admires hum. Vice, sightly confuse by Jun's muttering, stabs him, but Jun only smile and says he wants to be Vice's master and die together with him.
Sometime after school, Yamato, Ultimo, Hyoe, and Darumada converse with Yamato's mother, Fushimi Agari about letting Ultimo stay at their apartment. At first, she reject allowing Ultimo to live with them, but after witnessing his cleaning and cooking skills, she cheerfully relents. Elsewhere, Jealous and Rune comes across Vice, who still beating at a bloody and battered Jun, and suggest to keep Jun alive to be replacement master, but he make no attempts to stop Vice's abuse. At Eco Sushi, Musashi gets a visit from the evil dôji master, Fusataro Fussa, who assures Musashi he means no harm. Fussa tried to make a deal with him, but Musashi remains hostile, so Fussa invites him to his studio and leaves. In the streets, Yamato and Ultimo goes to meet Musashi, but find that he not here. However, they meet up with Sayama and Regla, but they have no clue where Musashi is, and noticing how bystanders are staring at Ultimo's appearance, Sayama offers her help.
At Soney Music, Fussa and Rage welcomes Musashi and a human form Sophia. After Musashi refused to make a deal with Fussa, they proceed into a fight in their ICONs while Vice, Jealous, and Rune Kodaira watches and gets ready for the One Hundred Machine Funeral. As Fussa was losing the battle, Vice kicks him away and takes Musashi on himself in his ICON. Beaten, Musashi recalls his time with his sister in the 30th century, and how he tried to capture Roger Dunstan. Before Demon Mask could kill Musashi, Yamato and Ultimo arrives to save him and battle Vice. God Ultimo takes Vice and himself to the mountains to fight, but doesn't kill him off and leaves Vice frozen for a time. Meanwhile, Rune carries a wounded Jun in front of Kiyose Matsumoto's house. Pardonner takes care of Jun, but remains wary of Rune and warns Kiyose to be careful.
Meanwhile, Akira and Orgullo cause in trouble in the middle of the city, but Sayama and Regla arrive to stop them. Both sides transforms form into their ICONs and engages in battle with each other. Sayama was able to easily defeat Akira with her ICON Level 2 and revealed that she is Dunstan's daughter, and erase Akira's memories to keep her secret. Meanwhile, Jun awakens and throws a frenzy, resulting in Pardonner getting shot, but Akitsu and Slow shows up to save them. Rune tries to convince Akitsu to join the evil side, but she's refuse. Rune then results in trying to kill with Jealous, but Slow saves her. Rune and Jealous transform into their ICON as Akitsu and Slow have also reach Level 2 of their ICON and has the ICON suit, shocking Rune. In another part of the city, Yamato and a human Ultimo goes to Eco's funeral, alongside Musashi, Sophia, Sayama, and Regal as well. They quietly talks what they should do about Dunstan as Yamato paid his respects to Eco.
At Kiyose 's house, Akitsu and Rune face off, with God Slow having the advantage with it's Level 2 of ICON. However, Rune let Jealous read his heart in order to reach ICON Level 2 and gain an ICON Suit. Rune quickly overwhelmed Akitsu and was able to stabbed her, but not before being stabbed himself. Both are wounded, Kiyose wants to heal them with Pardonner, but Jun gets in her way. As a result, Kiyose and a recovered Pardonner focus their attention on Jun. Instead of fighting Jun, Kiyose used Pardonner's power to show him memories of her and Koun Shakujii's past as doctors in World War II. Kiyose teaches Jun about her past and tried to make him understand the value of life, and then let him go unharmed. Despite this, Jun remained unaffected by Kiyose's lesson and goes to Sparrow Place to kill K to become Vice's new master.
Meanwhile, Sayama and Regla returns to her mansion after Eco's funeral. Sayama is greeted by Dunstan and Milieu, who has been hiding out in the house. Dunstan talks about the pieces of the "chessboard" are together and has to watch the next fight between Hibari Oume and Goge vs Kaizo Oume and Avaro. Hibari and Goge are out jogging and practicing Karate, all the while talking about their past together and the situations they must face for the One Hundred Machine Funeral. Meanwhile, K fights back against Jun, and gains the upper hand before Vice returns to finish Jun off himself, even though K told Vice to spare Jun because he might be useful to them. Hibari and Goge, who were outside listening the whole time, burst into K's room to defend Jun. Goge attacks and apparently easily defeated Vice, but doesn't killed him. However, Hibari, who has a deep-sated hatred for evil and an aggressive form of justice, want to kill Vice. However, Vice was able to stabbed her first and transformed into a new state from feeding off Hibari's malice. After tearing Goge apart, Kaizo arrived to the scene and unsuccessfully tired to convinced his daughter to join their side.
At the Agari household, Ultimo bonds with his master and Fushimi, who dressed him in female clothing. As Yamato getting dress with Ultimo's help, The Good Dôji Club came by to get him, catching Yamato at an awkward moment. At Sparrow Place, Kaizo ordered Avaro to kill Hibari, but the Good Dôji intervened and saved her. While K was frighten by being outnumbered, Vice engaged Ultimo in a fight and revealed his new ability to steal other Noh powers. Using his space-time Noh with time precision, Ultimo was able to counter the newly powered Vice, allowing Musashi aim a gun and shoot him. On a rooftop, a healing Rune and Jealous watches the fight as Rune speak about their adversaries, especially Sayama being hiding a secret from everyone else. After the fight, The Good Dôji Club travels to the past to begin training and learn more about each other in order grow stronger to defeat Dunstan. They arrived in the year 1947 and they met the Hibari and Goge of that time period. The club are taken in by the past figures and they explained what's going on, which the 1940 Hibari mentions an "other Yamato" and also mention. Meanwhile, the The Evil Dôji Branch, who time travel to 1944 and waited three years since, was secretly informed by Kaizo that Yamato and friends had arrived and plans to confront them. The next day, the past Hibari takes Yamato, Musashi, and Sayama to give out rice portions to the poor citizens, whom all hold a large amount love for Hibari and her kindness. However, Hana Koganei and Edile was sent by her allies to caused havoc and gored down all of the food Hibari brought. Ultimo, Regla and Sophia come to their masters' rescue and fought the pair off. After trying to stop the 1947 Hibari from killing Hana, Yamato was soon taken by future version of himself and was transported to the year 2989, a future that Yamato seems to have created and one the "other Yamato" advise the current Yamato to follow. Yamato find the future Evil Dôji Branch fighting off Dunstan's massive robots army in their ICON forms, acting as Yamato's allies and calling him "leader". As Yamato become more confused, the future version of himself and The Good Dôji Club are also fighting off the robots in a combined form, but the future Sayama appears to erased everyone's memories.
Before she could erase his memories, Yamato was suddenly transported back to the moment where the 1947 Hibari and his friends was holding Hana and Edile hostage. Too shock and depressed by what he had learned, Yamato goes off alone with Ultimo to tell him what happened. They was interrupted by Yoichi and Service, who takes Yamato to a bar to let him vent out his misery and suggest that he talk to Sayama about her secret as Dunstan's daughter. With resorted determination, Yamato and Ultimo rush outside, not noticing Fussa and Rage watching them. They are soon ambush by the duo, resulting Ultimo being severely beaten down by Rage. Then Yamato was gravely injured by Jealous, whom Rune orders to capture the latter. However, Yoichi and Service's aid restore Yamato to full health and then used his love to heal Ultimo. Achieving a new awareness love, Yamato's love allows Ultimo to gain a new, powerful form and the transform in into new ICON and unlock Level 2, gaining their ICON Suit. Elsewhere, Vice is made aware of Ultimo's evolution and meet with Sayama, who have seems to become a traitor.
While fighting Rune, Yamato tells him that he does love Rune deeply, no matter what his gender is or what has happens between them. Suddenly Sayama steps in and knock Rune unconscious, revealing her true self to Yamato. She explains that she wants to stop her father, hating him for making her live a lie and uses her in his experiments, and will do anything to reach that goal, even if she has to team up with Vice. Undaunted, Yamato express his remorse that Sayama has to carry such a burden alone, and tells her that he and everyone else will help her. As Sayama was touched by Yamato's words, Dusntan arrives in his ICON with the intent to punish Sayama for her betrayal and takes her to the future. While The Good Dôji Club recuperates, with Fusataro Fussa and Kaizo Oume becoming their allies out of personal interests, Vice and Jun Chichibu attempts strike at their weakened enemies, just as Vice undergoes change within himself as well.
While battling Ultimo with Jun, Vice realizes that he has come to understand good and evil by watching Yamato's battles. and reject his partnership with Jun since the boy resembles him so much. However, Vice refuses to submit to The Good Dôji Club until Yamato and Ultimo beats in a fight, which they do. With both The Good Dôji Club and The Evil Dôji Branch are united with a common cause, they eventually time travel to the future to launch a full-on assault on Dunstan and save Sayama. By fusing Ultimo's and Vice's spirit sphere together, they unlock Ultimo's strongest form - Ideos Ultimo. They overwhelm Dunstan and showcase that both sides has reach the understanding that good and evil must always be balance. Pleased with the results, Dunstan praise Yamato and the others, and tells them the next part of his experiment is about to begin.
Dunstan turns back time once again, back to the day Yamato found Ultimo and before the One Hundred Machine Funeral started. Dunstan's time-reversal reverted everyone back to their original ages and brought back all the masters that died in the conflict back to life, such as Shin Ekoda, and heal any injuries that they sustained. In addition, Dunstan turns all the Karakuri Dôji into humans, letting themselves normal lives alongside their masters. With everything back normal, Yamato and his friends continue their daily lives in peace as Dunstan continues to watch over them.
The manga was released in Shonen Jump SQ, a monthly magazine that is released every 4th of the month and the pilot, Chapter 0, was introduced in April 18, 2008. The 32-page pilot chapter "Karakuri Dôji Ultimo Chapter: 0" premiered in the first issue of Jump SQ. II (Second) on April 18, 2008, with the first three pages in full color. The first three pages were earlier revealed as part of a preview for Jump SQ. II on Shueisha's S-Manga.Net. "Chapter: 0" was later adapted into English by Viz Media, and published in the Fall 2008 issue of their Shonen Jump manga anthology, which went on sale on August 5, 2008. Shueisha also publishes Ultimo in tankōbon format—the first published on July 3, 2009.
In promotion of the English adaptation, a press conference was held at the 2008 New York Comic Con with promotional artwork. The manga was officially introduced to American readers through Shonen Jump USA in their July 2009 issue, but ended in their February 2011 issue. It is now being published directly into volumes, each containing four chapters of the series. The series continues to be release in a worldwide publishing, including Australia and Europe, and was licensed in Spain by Panini Comics in September 2010.
In 2012, Ultimo ended in the February issue of Jump SQ and moved into Jump SQ’s spin-off magazine, Jump SQ 19 (ジャンプSQ.19 Janpu Esu Kyū Ichi Kyū) as of the May issue. The magazine was release Ultimo bi-monthly on the 19th of the month.
In February 2015, the 18th issue of Shueisha's Jump SQ. 19 magazine announced the magazine was going to ended on February 19 and that the climax of the Karakuri Dôji Ultimo manga was published in the July issue of the new spinoff of Jump Square magazine Jump SQ. Crown (ジャンプSQ.CROWN, Janpu Esu Kyū Kulaun) that launched on July 17, which is scheduled to release quarterly and replaced Jump SQ. 19. On October 16th, Ultimo officially ended on the second issue of Jump SQ. Crown, with a 80-pages long chapter.
On Hiroyuki Takei's Twitter account, it was announced that the final volume of the series contains an extra 20 pages.
In April of 2011, Shueisha announced a VOMIC (voice-comic) was going to be released in May on the "Sakiyomi JumBANG!" program. The voice-comics divided 21st century Yamato Agari and Ultimo's reunion, as well as Chapter 2, into four parts. It was later distributed on the VOMIC official website in June of the same year.
- By counting the number of days between the first and final release dates of the manga volumes, Karakuri Dôji Ultimo is Hiroyuki Takei’s longest running series, beating his previous work, Shaman King by 120 days.
- The series takes place in the year 2012, possibly referring to the belief that the world could have ended in 2012.
- Chronologically, the entire course of the series takes place within two days; Part I expands upon two whole days, and Part II, and half of Part III takes place when Yamato turns back time to the day before the One Hundred Machine Funeral.