You may or may not know this, but there is an Isekai manga based on Vladimir Putin – and it’s actually really good. It’s hailed as one of the best Isekai stories out there, with an engaging story, unique characterization, and fun artwork that leaves nothing to imagination.
Putin is probably one of the most talked about people in the world right now because of the current conflict between Russia and Ukraine. If you type “putin Russia” into Google, you’re probably not going to get any results that link Putin to manga.
But I’m here to tell you that the president of Russia stars in a Japanese manga written by Yasushi Baba called ‘Ride-on King’. It was released 4 years ago, in 2018 – and it’s definitely not what you’re expecting.
Story – 8/10
Concept – 9.5/10
Art – 10/10
Characters – 9/10
Overall Readability – 9/10
Total Score – 45.5/50
‘Ride-on King’ is about the beloved president of the Republic of Pursia (a play on “Russia”, not to be confused with the real-life state of “Prussia”, or “Persia”), Alexander Purchinov.
Purchinov – sometimes translated as Plutinov in English – is a master of martial arts, who loves to “ride” things. Let me explain.
Yasushi Baba is a genius when it comes to political parodies. The whole premise of ‘Ride-on King’ is based on the fact that this president-protagonist is a machismo conqueror, who wants to be ever-dominant by “riding” things – figuratively and literally.
The cover page of chapter 1 of the manga reads: “The President Rides Enthusiastically, Into This New Series!”
Purchinov desires to tame and ride everything – machines, creatures, even nations. However, much like Saitama from One Punch Man, Purchinov has reached a point where he has become almost indomitable.
Everything that could be ridden by him in this world has been ridden. “Isn’t there anything out there that I have yet to ride…?” he asks himself dejectedly.
One day, as he is riding his faithful pet tiger, Arsalan, through the streets of the city, the president becomes the target of a terrorist attack. He is knocked out, and when he wakes up, he is “Isekai’d” into another world, full of new monsters and creatures – creatures that have never been ridden.
Flying lizards called wyverns, orcs, dragons, centaurs, griffons … These mythical species have no idea what is in store for them. And you, as the reader, don’t either.
2. Themes and Characters
This is Isekai – “portal fantasy.” There is a fantastical world that is pointedly different from the real world, there is magic and there are magical creatures.
There is a protagonist that has been transported to this new world, where he has to find a new way to survive, as well as complete his own personal quest.
Although ‘Ride-on King’ is based on and is influenced by Putin and his Russia, the protagonist, Purchinov, is not exactly like his real-life equivalent.
Purchinov comes across as a really likable guy. All he wants to do is ride stuff. Not sexually, not metaphorically. He wants to sit on top of whatever object or living thing and ride it to feel a sense of “indescribable conquest”. This is the primary motivation of his actions and behavior.
The story in itself is straightforward; whatever themes that emerge seem to be more incidental that purposeful. Purchinov is not a tyrant.
He is not even a ruler. He’d much rather be exploring the world, in search of new things to ride on. He authorizes the development of manned space rockets for the mere hope that he can one day ride them.
Purchinov hates that his presidential duties – “riding” his country, has made him too busy to roam around. He says: “Rather than politics, I would rather visit new and unknown places, to my heart’s content.”
He is only the president because the people of Pursia love and respect strong men, and he is one of the strongest people in the country. He not only liberated the country during war, but also has numerous black belts in several different fighting sports and martial arts.
Is this a comment on the people of Russia? A dig at the merit of brute strength and physical prowess? That’s up to the reader to decide. The manga itself does not glorify or demean any person or country; it is a take on a real-life persona, totally removed from actuality.
3. Is Purchinov actually Putin? Real-life Resemblances:
Purchinov is the spitting image of Putin – although, more buff – but he is definitely not him. The character is Putin from a parallel dimension, with some traits that we can instantly recognize, like his macho dominating image, but also ideologies that do not match with who we think Putin is.
For example, Purchinov is genuinely bored and disgusted by politics and would much rather Don-Quixote his way around the world, finding new things to explore and ride.
There are a lot of images that are obviously call backs to famous Putin memes, like, the shirtless picture of Putin on a horse is identical to the bare-bodied Purchinov riding his tiger. The flag in the manga is also suspiciously similar to the Russian flag, and one of the characters is Natalia, Russia’s attorney-general.
But the similarities end there. ‘Ride-on King’ is a parody. And Yasushi Baba has done it before.
In his manga ‘Golosseum’, he pits global political elites against each other. The manga features characters based on Hilary Clinton, Putin, Shinzo Abe, and fighters like Hulk Hogan and Bruce Lee – but all of them have superpowers.
‘Ride-on King’ was actually derived from ‘Golosseum’, and Yasushi Baba even makes the Putin character have a dream about being Isekai’d. Volume 5 of ‘Golosseum’ contains the original pilot of ‘Ride-on King’, in case you want to check it out.
4. Is the manga worth the hype?
‘Ride-on King’ is most definitely worth the read.
Some people think ‘Ride-on King’ is just dictatorship propaganda. I mean, it does make Putin seem way better than he is: hella strong, whopping opponents, conquering unchartered worlds, and riding monsters.
If you equate Purchinov to Putin, you’d say he is peak Russian coolness – I mean the guy literally rides an undead dragon and is adored by citizens of not just his world, but the new one as well.
Other readers think that ‘Ride-on King’ a troll manga, and read it for the meme content and the bizarre concept. A president who just wants to ride things? Come on.
But ‘Ride-on King’ is more than a meme manga, and is definitely not propaganda. The premise is absurd, sure, but the series is much more than just its premise.
It has some insane world-building – as a good Isekai must, and all the characters have changing, detailed backstories and arcs. ‘Ride-on King’ is not just hilarious but is intelligent; it contains Isekai tropes and also subverts them.
It takes 3 truck-kuns (a repeatedly used device that is often the cause of transporting characters to magical realms) to Isekai Purchinov.
He also continuously calls attention to the absurdity of the magical creatures – in the beginning he exclaims that the dragon might be CGI or a robot, instead of being real.
He also uses common sense and knowledge from his experience as a political figure to negotiate with opponents, instead of just fighting everyone and everything he sees.
‘Ride-on King’ is also a redemption story, with Purchinov saying that he does not want to kill people in this world because he has already killed too many in his own.
With a compassionate albeit ridiculous main character who’s undoubtedly based on a real-life infamous president, the whole story of ‘Ride-on King’ is strangely out of perspective, in the best, most wonderful way possible.
If you’re bored of the saturated Isekai narratives and tropes, ‘Ride-on King’ will definitely read like a breath of fresh air. A familiar character in a magical medieval realm of beasts is a sell in itself. The fact that the protagonist is based on Vladimir Putin and that he wants to ride these monsters is too thrilling to resist.
5. Is ‘Ride-on King’ banned in Russia?
Recently, Russia banned famous anime series like ‘Death Note’, ‘Tokyo Ghoul’, and ‘Inuyashiki’, due to on-screen violence.
It also banned several shows of the Isekai genre, like ‘KonoSuba’ and ‘That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime’, because they allegedly “promote reincarnation beliefs”.
Currently, ‘Ride-on King’ is not on the list of censored series in Russia, but that might be because it hasn’t been animated yet.
6. Is ‘Ride-on King’ over?
‘Ride-on King’ is still ongoing. As of March 1, 2022, the manga has 7 volumes and a total of 41 chapters published.
Nobody knows whether the creator of the manga is making fun of Putin or the Isekai genre. We don’t know whether he wanted to paint Putin as a badass hero, or just use him to draw in more readers.
In the end, though, ‘Ride-on King’ is a just a plain entertaining read. Whether or not you like Putin – or Isekai, this one should definitely be on your list.