I got the last volume of Ultimate Muscle, Volume 29, a couple of days ago and I read it today. It's a really interesting volume because only the first two chapters, about 50 pages of content, is actually for the main story. In a sense, the final fight of Ultimate Muscle ended in the previous volume and this volume is more of an epilogue-of-sorts. Here's how I think of it: I wasn't expecting an epic final battle here since it's only one volume, but after seeing how those two last chapters happened I was kind of disappointed. Then I thought about it, though, and realised that the story probably ended the way it did so that this epic fight could be done in the sequel manga, Kinnikuman Nisei: Kyukyoku no Choujin Tag-hen/Ultimate Muscle: Ultimate Superhuman Tag Chapter, which has the New Generation heroes go back into the past and they meet up with the original generation during their prime...

But then I remembered that there is no way in hell Viz will ever license and release Tag Chapter, so the ending maintains a little bit of disappointment. Understandably this isn't really an "end" to Ultimate Muscle, but rather the end of this portion of the story, but not getting the continuation sucks.

The other seven chapters of the last volume tell a story that happens back in the early days of the original Kinnikuman and focuses on Robin Mask. This was a cool story and it mostly saved this volume from being an utter disappointment. Now I really feel like I should actually get to reading the original Kinnikuman... As for why the Ultimate Muscle manga failed whereas 4Kids' version of the anime was so successful that 4Kids commissioned Toei to animate more, I can really come up with only one answer: The manga isn't exactly aimed at the same people who watched the anime.

Though Viz released the manga under the Shonen Jump name, and then moved it to SJ Advanced once that label started, the original Kinnikuman Nisei didn't run in Weekly Shonen Jump, and neither does Tag Chapter. Instead, they both are in Weekly Playboy, which is for adult audiences. Outside of the nostalgia factor the series has in Japan, being in Weekly Playboy allows mangaka duo Yudetamago to be very raunchy, dirty, and more violent than titles in Jump generally can be. Though Ultimate Muscle eventually just sticks with the violence factor and loses a bit of the raunchiness and dirtiness it started with, those original volumes feature bare-chested women, Kid Muscle/Mantaro crapping his pants in fear multiple times, and Mantaro even goes to hostess clubs a few times. Though the anime follows the same story, even the original Japanese version removes all of those adult elements and makes it more suitable for younger audiences. Once again, Viz didn't seem to do their homework and probably just assumed that the manga was like the anime but maybe only a little bit more violent. Maybe Viz should have played it safe and released the V-Jump Nisei manga instead; it was nowhere near as long, was actually aimed at younger audiences, and actually told a different story as well.

But this is all moot in the end. What matters is that Viz actually released all of Ultimate Muscle and I am glad as hell to have it all.