Monday, February 07, 2011

Manga Monday: Nura

Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan (Volume 1)
Hiroshi Shiibashi

This new shonen manga follows Rikuo Nura, who lives in a house filled with yokai, creatures from Japanese myth who come in a variety of shapes and sizes.  Yokai are known for terrorizing humans, and while many yokai are evil and are slave to their instincts to devour children, etc, some are just harmless pranksters, like most of the variety that live in Nura's house.  Nura's grandfather commands the Nura Clan, and is responsible for protecting and watching out for the yokai in the area.  As his grandson, Nura, who is one quarter yokai, is expected to take on the title of "the third," the next leader of the Nura Clan.  Nura, however, is reluctant to accept this responsibility.  He learned at a young age that people fear and despise yokai and he doesn't want any part of that, even though he loves the household he's grown up in.  Nura is also very human and unsuited for the role before him, at least until his yokai self comes out during an emergency and he takes charge of a situation beautifully, proving that he has the chops for the job.  However, this side of Nura comes out very infrequently, and other clans see him as a weak choice for a leader, and threaten to overthrow him any chance they get.  Meanwhile, Nura just wants to grow up like any human child, making friends and hiding who he is and the family he has at home.  I think this is a really fun book overall.  I like Nura and his friends at school and how he has to hide this one side of his life from them, effectively playing a role that keeps him at a distance from what he longs for more than anything - to be human and normal.  And all of the yokai stuff is really interesting, with all of the plots against Nura, and the infighting amongst his subjects.  Plus Shiibashi comes up with a lot of cool designs for the yokai in this book, illustrating the monsters and action sequences very nicely.  This is mostly an action title, but there are bits of horror and comedy mixed into the stories, balancing the book out nicely.  I personally think this is one of the better shonen titles that I've come across in awhile and I hope people check it out.

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