KUROHIME • Masanori Ookamigumi Katakura • Shueisha (Monthly Shonen Jump, Jump Square website) • 16+ volumes, ongoing (14 volumes in America, cancelled) • VIZ • 16+
Monthly manga, like American monthly comics, tend to be less story-driven than weekly manga; after all, you’ve just waited a month between chapters and you might have forgotten stuff, so it’s safer to do standalone stories than those intricately plotted epics which pick up seconds after the last chapter/issue left off. Thus Kurohime, which originated in the now-defunct Monthly Shonen Jump, is a highly episodic story more about visuals than consistency: a goofy action comedy set in a vaguely Wild Western world of comic-relief goons, dragons, 300-foot-tall beasts and impossibly busty, panty-flashing, gun-toting women. The heroes are Zero, a teenage gunslinger, and his partner/master Kurohime, a spandex-clad witch who fires demon-summoning bullets but, thanks to a curse, periodically transforms into a saucy younger version of herself. Starting out as over-the-top slapstick about a megalomanical, Tarantino-esque feminist/sex-object superheroine (”The men of this world all belong to me!”) and her shy, bishi male sidekick, Kurohime becomes more interesting as its heroine’s feelings for Zero become more serious. Once Kurohime realizes that she loves Zero, she literally pursues him into the afterlife and beyond, fighting the gods for love, and the cheesy series takes on a certain cartoon epic/tragic quality. However, the series’ continual changes of setting, theme, cast and Kurohime herself eventually feel like ADHD, and seem less like a conscious choice than a response to publishing format pressures, the necessity to keep things changing so that readers don’t lose interest and new fans can jump on at any point. (For instance, there’s a big change in the storyline around the time that the Japanese edition switched from Monthly Shonen Jump to the later serialization in a Japanese online magazine.) Beneath its big-busted veneer, it’s got a more interesting plot than the typical Shonen Jump beat-’em-up, but the continual jumping about makes it hard to follow, and the cheese level is also suffocatingly high. (Review by Alistair Toth)
Here’s one of the first completely new reviews for “365 Days of Manga,” not seen in Otaku USA and not intended for “Manga: The Complete Guide.” This one is by my friend Alistair Toth.
Today’s winner is Christian C. of Pennsylvania — congratulations! The photo is from Liz, one of the previous winners of 365 Days of Manga. Thanks for sending us your photo! I’m glad you liked at least some of the extremely weird manga I sent you. Unfortunately, Otogi Matsuri was never completed in English, but I’ll try to send you something equally bizarre, and less tantalizingly incomplete, for your next set of five manga!