Friday, July 10, 2009

Manga Recomendation: Kurohime

The manga recommendation for this week is a book that has been going on since 2002 called Kurohime.

The series starts off with a little boy named Zero getting saved by a world famous magician called Kurohime. Kurohime saves the boy then goes on with her life.

The kid then trains for 10 years, not being able to use magic himself he learns to becomes the fastest duel wielding gunsmith in the world (actually he uses four guns at once), with his goal in mind of being like the woman who saved him all those years ago and become a defender of justice.

Long story short, he ends up saving a little girl, Himeko, from a bunch of thugs and the little girl ends up really being Kurohime. Seems Kurohime pissed off the God of Love somehow and was reduced to the form of a child, with most of her powers sealed away. The terms of her contract, is that until she finds love she can't return to normal. After Zero confesses that he has spent the last 10 years looking for her, and that he loved her, she shared this love for an instant, breaking the spell.

The clincher is that as soon as she becomes Kurohime she resorts back to her self-centered self and starts to think of how she can use Zero for her own benefit, thus she turns back into Himeko. This is pretty much how the series progresses from there. She is all powerful as long as she is Kurohime, but she has to feel a spark of love to turn into her, so if she isn't feeling it, she isn't worth much in battle.

So far the characters are all compelling and the story is good and action packed. Zero and Kurohime form a relationship pretty quick in the series, which is rare for Shonen manga, and I hope they are able to keep the relationship dynamic enough to keep it interesting. Kurohime and Himeko are the jealous type, so whenever Zero seems to show interest in a new cute girl it screws up her powers (transforming wise anyway).

I'm not a huge fan of fantasy type settings in general, but the world in Kurohime is pretty interesting, even if it has been done before. It has that fantasy old west feel as all the characters are gunslingers. All the magician characters, can only use spells attached to bullets, so there is no magic wands or any of that stuff. Kurohime's specialty is making bullets that summon animal type creatures from the barrel of the gun. For instance she summons a T-Rex type dinosaur fossilized skeleton and as it fights it's skin stats to grow back.

This dynamic makes for some interesting battles.

My only real complaint is that, being Shonen, it falls to some of the stereotypes associated with the genre. Namely, the characters yelling exposition and background info while engaged in a battle to the death. For example, we find out which God put the curse on Kurohime during a battle when she randomly yells out, for no real reason, "The God of Love was the one who turned me into a child and the spell can only be broken if I find love." She yells all this while flying across the battlefield, avoiding being shot. It might also just be the translation. And it isn't a huge complaint because it doesn't happen too often, it just kind of takes you out of the flow when it does.

The artwork is also very stunning. With such beautiful and lively character designs, this manga is just begging to be animated and I'm surprised it hasn't.

In America, Viz has the license for it so you can go pick it up at your local bookstore or Amazon. Further volumes are being scanlated and can probably be found at your favorite scanlation site. But of course, please support the licensed version first.