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review 2018-06-10 00:45
Inuyashiki (manga, vol. 1) by Hiroya Oku, translated by Stephen Paul
Inuyashiki, Vol. 1 - Hiroya Oku,Stephen Paul

Inuyashiki is a 58-year-old man who is unloved by everyone in his life. When he moves his family to a new home, all everyone does is gripe about it - how small the place is, how cheap he is, etc. He has a young son and teen daughter, both of whom are embarrassed by how old he is. They also don't respect him and don't bother to hide this fact. When Inuyashiki proposes that the family get a dog, no one will come with him, so he ends up selecting a Shiba, Hanako, on his own. It seems that Hanako is the only being in the world that Inuyashiki has to live for, until one fateful evening, when he and a teenage boy end up forever changed.

I picked up the first couple volumes of this in a Humble Bundle a while back. There's Humble Bundle with more volumes of this and other series up right now, and I'm still debating whether to get it.


This first volume of Inuyashiki didn't leave me wishing I had more in my collection. The characters were, for the most part, horrible. I doubt any of the people in Inuyashiki's family ever genuinely loved each other, and the world of this series seemed to be entirely populated with bullies. The only character I even vaguely liked was the dog, and something about this series makes me suspect that the dog isn't going to make it through the whole thing.

The artwork definitely wasn't to my taste. There was something slightly unsettling and repulsive about it, even before Inuyashiki discovered that there was something strange going on with his body. Maybe this was intentional, but the result was that I didn't really want to spend more time than necessary looking at pages and panels.

The sci-fi aspects were weird and a little hand-wavy. The goals of the beings Inuyashiki and Shishigami, the teenage boy, encountered were never stated outright, but they seemed to want to avoid causing a stir, or perhaps to avoid affecting humans with their appearance too much. Either way, they failed miserably, and their failure seems likely to grow more pronounced in later volumes.

I'm really not impressed with this series so far.


Two pages of translation notes.


(Original review posted on A Library Girl's Familiar Diversions.)

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review 2016-09-08 23:38
Inuyashiki. 4. - Hiroya Oku

Inuyashiki is a really interesting series, I'd highly recommend picking it up if you enjoy complex, sci-fi driven series that explore the darker side of human nature.


The premise is that two people, who just happened to be standing on the same hillside, were killed (accidentally?) and replaced with robots by some unknown alien entity.  The two, one a middle-aged man prematurely aged by illness who is generally despised and treated poorly by everyone in his life and a high school student who is popular and well liked among his peers, continue on with their lives, soon to discover new abilities. 


Although his appearance hasn't changed Inuyashiki, the middle-aged man, is completely healed of his illness.  He also has the ability to heal others of any illness, wound or disease.  Shishigami, the young boy, takes the opposite path and uses his powers to kill randomly, invading homes and cruelly taking the lives of the inhabitants, be they young or old.


The two are complete opposites, one, young beautiful and beloved by all.  The other ugly, old and despised.  Then again, are they really so different?  Both are witness to bullying and each seems to grapple with the issues of why some people are given power while others are trod upon.  Inuyashiki breaks down when he is called a hero, feeling that he doesn't heal people as a hero would, just because it's the right thing to do, but because he needs to assert his own humanity, afraid that he is now nothing but a machine.


Shishigami too struggles with his transformation.  While he obviously feels superior to humans, when he finds out his mother has cancer his world is shattered and he starts to reassess what he wants, even dreaming about being human again.


Like Death Note, there is a fight between two forces, though it's less about morality/ethics and more about two flawed individuals given immense powers, but no direction or explanation.  It's an interesting and suspenseful story, can't wait to read the next volume. 

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review 2015-12-30 14:00
New Beginnings and an Unexpected Continuation
School-Live!, Vol. 1 - Norimitsu Kaihou (Nitroplus)
Inuyashiki 2 - Hiroya Oku
Ôoku: The Inner Chambers, Vol. 11 (Ooku: The Inner Chambers) - Fumi Yoshinaga,Fumi Yoshinaga

Remember that time I went to Japan and stopped updating this blog (and never again kept a very good update schedule)?  


School Live! was the anime of the moment in the Honey Toast cafe we visited in Akihabara.  I remember looking at it and wondering what the heck it was about, it looked like a happy-go-lucky group of school girls surviving the zombie apocalypse in their school.


That's exactly what it is.  Four school girls and one teacher are living in their school, hiding from members of the student body who didn't survive the initial zombie event.  We don't see that, instead we're thrust right into the action from the perspective of Yuki.  Everything seems normal at first, the fact that Yuki is part of the "School Living Club," a club that stays overnight at the school, seems weird, but plausible.  As the story weaves on and introduces the other characters, one of whom carries a shovel everywhere, we begin to realize that Yuki's world view has strayed a bit from reality.


While Yuki still believes that all of her classmates are alive and well, the reality is that the students she sees playing baseball are actually zombies stumbling around trying to find ways to get at the girls and eat their brains.


The other members of the school living club allow Yuki to stay in her delusion, creating games while gathering supplies and pretending to go camping when the electricity goes out.  It's got it's funny moments when Yuki comments on the zombies antics, but despite the comedic nature of the manga it's a little depressing too.  All of these characters have lost their entire families and are living in a school surrounded by zombies.  We get glimpses here and there of their desperation and the hopelessness of the situation.


I hope that those glimpses develop into more in this series.  2 1/2 stars.


Inuyashiki 2


Although I wasn't a huge fan of Gantz, I admit I find Inuyashiki so far to be interesting and original.  I really like the character of Inuyashiki as he accepts the fact that he is no longer quite human, but instead of falling into despair (especially given his horrible family situation) he steps forward to become a hero of the downtrodden.  In this volume he searches for those in trouble, saving a family from a house fire and defending a salaryman who stood up to a gang of Yakuza, from being beaten to death for his impudence.  


However, Inuyashiki also discovers that there is another such as him.  When he hears the cries for help of a young woman and races to the scene he discovers a young man, whose back opens up to reveal a jet, launching the kid into the night.  While Inuyashiki is seeking to help others with his powers, this young man is doing just the opposite.


Shishigami is a kid who has been witness to his best friend, Andou, being targeted by bullies.  It's been so bad that Andou has stopped coming to school.  With these incredible powers he can help Andou, defend him, get revenge.  Shishigami once told Andou that the only people who matter were family and friends and that if anyone else died, it didn't bother him.


This has manifested in Shishigami choosing a house at random and then killing everyone inside.  After killing three people he was able to feel alive again, indicating that becoming a robot has definitely affected him contrary to his claims that he is still the same person.  He almost spared the teenage girl who came home as he was killing her family when he found out she liked One Piece, but then she kept crying so he ended up killing her in front Inuyashiki.  Andou becomes increasingly afraid of Shishigami as he follows him and watches him demonstrate his monstrous powers.


I like the more detailed, less cartoony, artwork of the manga and so far the story has depth and complexity.  Even without the component of becoming alien terminator things, the story about Inuyashiki's disintegrating family would be interesting, but coupled with this bizarre sci-fi element it becomes an odd and page-turning tale.


This volume focused mainly on the two characters developing their robotic powers, setting up their opposed purposes and their fateful meeting.  I missed the interactions with Inuyashiki's family and pet here and I would have appreciated a little more back story on Andou and Shishigami's friendship.  However, for fans of darker manga this could be a good series to start.  3 1/2 Stars.


For fans of Gantz, 20th Century Boys, or Bokurano Ours.



Ooku Volume 11


I was wrong!  I thought, with the horrible death of my favorite character in the last volume, that the series was ended.  Apparently, even though Gennai was most cruelly murdered and a man has reclaimed the title of Shogun, life goes on.


Actually, Ooku continues to be a source of interest and delight to me, even though I more than once felt like dashing this book to the floor as I became so disgusted with the turn of events and the complete loss of all the work some of the characters had done to change the political situation and cure the 'red face pox.'  In this volume everything is reversed, with the power going to Harusada (her son has become Shogun, but he has no real power), things shift dramatically.  All the men are banished from the Inner Chamber, instead to be crowded with women, who in turn flood the Inner chambers with babies.  


It's a very Shakespearean plot, power hungry Harusada will do anything to remain in power.  She enjoys belittling others and watching them die.  She is truely a frightening character.  At first I hated her for her political views, banning the study of Western medicine and raising farmer's taxes in order to pay for the many concubines in the Inner Chamber and her own luxuries.  However, as I read on I became more and more frightened of her cold character, seemingly pleased when the prospect for punishment came up and she'd have a chance to kill.


It's a wonderful series and though I thought it was over at 10 volumes and it seems there will actually be a total of 12, I'm still sad that the series will end at all, I'm certain I could be reading about these fictional histories, political upheavals and thoughts on relationships and gender for ages.


More awesome manga by Fumi Yoshinaga:




Although I liked all of these, especially All My Darling Daughters, Ooku is by far my favorite series she's ever done.

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text 2015-10-02 02:08
Two Misfits
Inuyashiki ( volume # 1 ) - Hiroya Oku
Nimona - Noelle Stevenson

Nimona - woman of mystery, transformations and...evil?  Nimona is the collected webcomic of Noelle Stevenson and follows Nimona as she seeks employment as Ballister Blackheart's evil side-kick.  


Nimona's powers are extraordinary and soon Blackheart finds himself taking on his nemesis, the Institution.  However, despite his efforts Nimona remains unclear about killing those who get in her way and has yet to open up to him about her obviously troubled past.


I thought that the storytelling in this graphic novel could have been paced a bit better, there were a few parts that dragged and parts where the same storyline seemed to be explored


The art, which I enjoyed, was very similar to Kate Beaton's style (of Hark! a Vagrant).  I enjoyed the extras included at the end of the book which show the development of her characters and a couple bonus krismas comics.


I wished I had liked the story more actually, but I felt that we didn't get enough insight into Nimona's character or background and the story between Ballister and Goldenloin was hinted at, but also I felt lacked depth.  I got the story of why the characters were behaving certain ways but I just couldn't get a real sense of motivation backing up their actions.


I also felt like the ending, no one really learned anything, there was no real closure.


Inuyashiki came in the weekly library requests pile, many of which I don't really remember ordering, or why I ordered, or what it is about, or anything.  So, without a clue I opened it up and started to read.  


Immediately I started to wonder about this dysfunctional family and why the dad was so old.  Ichiro Inuyashiki has just bought a tiny house, which his family doesn't appreciate at all.  His daughter lets on that he's her grandpa and his son barely speaks to him.  It turns out he's only 58, but finds out that he has a severe stomach cancer, which could be part of why his appearance is so fragile and old.  Also, he only has 3 months to live.  He tries to tell his family members on several occasions, but always gets interrupted and eventually gives up.


Escaping to a park with his only companion, a shiba inu dog he'd recently adopted, he cries into Hanako's soft fur.  He glances up to see a high school student staring off with a look of shock on his face and when he turns to see what the kid is gaping at he sees a meteor, just before it hits the ground obliterating both of them.


There is a page with some alien conversation, then our narrator wakes up and walks home, knowing now that he really is sick having fallen asleep in the park.  His wife rails at him, his kids are embarrassed by him.  He has no one to live for, besides Hanako, who his wife threatens to toss out. 


Alone in his bedroom things start to get weird and soon he discovers that he is no longer himself, his arm opens up with a gasp of steam and jets splatter the wall of the bedroom with what he'd eaten that day.  He discovers a button under his chin, which causes his head to split open revealing a glowing metallic orb.  He seems to be made up of machinery and ceramics.


Wandering in the park he comes across a homeless man being attacked by a bunch of middle school kids.  Having seen enough such events happening suddenly Ichiro bursts into action, blasting the kids with explosives (just as they'd attacked the homeless man with fireworks) and then using a camera on the back of his head exposing their antics to the entire world via the Internet and media.  


Ichiro now knows what he was meant to do, save lives!


In the final scene of the book we follow one of the kid's classmates as he visits a friend.  I was thrown and liked the twist at the end where the other person who has become a robot thingy is revealed and the friend's face is hilarious.


It wasn't until the obliteration that I started to think something was up with this manga more than a slice of life dysfunctional family story.  Then of course I realized it was done by the same author of Gantz and well, now I know I'm in for a ride, but so far, I like this better than Gantz, seems to have a bit more heart to it.



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