Monday, September 21, 2009

Manga Mondays - Black God Vol 1

Welcome back to another edition of Manga Mondays, my weekly manga review column. Yen Press is a manga publisher that puts out books that are a little more off beat than some of the other publishers like Tokyopop or Viz. Since I am always looking for something a little different, I gave a couple of their series a try. One of those series was Black God. Hit the jump for my review.

Written by Dall-Young Lim
Art by Sung-Woo Park
Adaptation by Christine Schilling

Black God stars 19 year old Keita Ibuki, a computer programmer who meets a strange girl one night at a ramen stand. The girl, named Kuro, is actually a supernatural being known as a Mototsumitama. Shortly after meeting her, Kuro is attacked by another Mototsumitama and, during the fight, Keita has his left arm blown off. Kuro saves his life but has to form a pact with him in order to do so, which sets up the basis of the series.

The volume is divided between a couple of fight scenes and, of course, the introduction to the series, and there is a lot to introduce. There are only a couple of main characters so far, but there are a lot of concepts introduced in the volume and, while most of them are touched upon in some way, none of them get fleshed out in any great detail, which is perfectly fine as it's only the first volume.

The author, Dall-Young Lim, explains most of the ideas and concepts with a great deal of exposition, but there are couple of things that you get by just reading the story and interpreting it on your own since they are never explained outright. Thankfully, they are not difficult to pick up on. None of the ideas are particularly complex either, at least for now, though there are lot of them and they do seem to be connected to each other in one way or another, so that could be a problem later on. There are a pretty large number of concepts and ideas introduced, which could be a slight turn off for some, but Lim handles it well enough so none of it confusing or off putting.

The story is pretty basic, just introducing the concept and characters with a couple of fight scenes thrown in. The story flows pretty well and Lim does a good job of pacing it. Nothing feels too rushed and there are not really any scenes that needed to be any longer, each being fleshed out just enough to maintain interest without dragging on or being too short. There is also a side story at the end of the collection that goes into a little of Kuro's background. It reveals nothing major, but is pretty good, maintaining the same quality as the rest of the volume. Overall, the story is good and there are no major flaws.

There are only three main characters in the series as of the first volume. Keita is mostly a jerk, but he can be a good person when he has to. He also has a bit of an ego, though I never found him completely unlikeable. Yeah, he is self-centered and kind of obnoxious, but he is a good person underneath it all, so it kind of all balances out.

Kuro is kind of an airhead, but she is also the person that conveys the most about the plot and the concepts. It's not odd or out of place since the knowledge she has seems to be common place where she is from. She also provides comic relief, mostly stemming from the fact that she is unfamiliar with the human world but she also does so in some general ways.

The other main character is Akane Sana, Keita's guardian. She's a 21 year old office worker who has a crush on Keita, though he seems to be oblivious to it. She's kind of a normal person without any strong personality quirks. Overall, the cast is solid and work well together, providing a nice balance with their various personalities.

The art by Park is quite good, too. It looks like a kind of average manga style, from what I've seen, but there are a couple places where he excels. First, he does some wonderful facial expressions, which are on the exaggerated side, but they help greatly with some of the comedic aspects of the story and are some of the better ones that I've seen. What he really excels at though are the fight scenes, which are both visceral and dynamic. Park manages to convey the forcefulness of a lot of the fights while making them visually interesting. He creates some of the best fight and actions scenes I have ever seen and I really do enjoy them. There is also a lot of energy in them. He is also a solid storyteller. He mostly uses standard panel layouts and there are not that many splash pages, though he uses them on occasion, as well as some non-grid style layouts. Overall, his storytelling style is a little on the average side but it gets the job done and ipretty enjoyable and supports the story.

Verdict - Buy It. A solid manga with a solid cast and some intriguing concepts, Black God Vol 1 is a thoroughly enjoyable comic with plenty to offer.

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mugiwara said...

Kurokami is definitely a good manga. Solid art, solid story, an expanding (but not too much) cast of characters.

The only thing I don't like is Keita allways being a jerkass to Kuro and Akane. I'm glad that since the 10th tome, there is somebody to slap him in the face when he deserves it.

One very good point is that the character who fight is the girl. Kurokami is not really a shonen, but still, there are not so many action mangas where the woman is the main fighter. Also, Kuro doesn't use magic powers or swords: she punches people and get punched in the face: no sexism here. And it doesn't look like Keita will follow the stupid cliche of Tarzan growing strong enough to be finally the one who protects Jane.

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