Thursday, August 2, 2012

Short Review: Sengoku Youko

One of the silliest names for a manga is Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer, (AKA: Wakusei no Samidare).  It's fairly crudely drawn, with weak backgrounds and unattractive characters, but it's based on an interesting premise.  A young brother and sister stuck living in a hospital due to their poor physical conditions, discover they have psychic powers, and then engage in a game to see which is stronger.  The brother develops a way to destroy Earth, and the sister has to round up a group of humans with their own super powers to try to stop him.  When the Earth is obliterated, the sister demands a rematch and the brother obliges by recreating the planet and starting over.  This has gone on so long that both sides have lost count.  Eventually, the sister enlists a young girl who's also dying from a debilitating disease, and the girl girl turns out to be ruthless and devious enough to win this time, except that the wish she wants granted at the end of all this is to destroy Earth herself.

(Image from Manga Fox)

Sengoku Youko, by Satoshi Mizukami, Grade B+
Wakusei ended last fall, and has been supplanted by Sengoku (although this one has been running since at least 2009).  Both are by the same artist and therefore share similar character designs.  They're also similar in that both stories start out with a "assemble the cast" motif, with new characters attaching themselves to the main band over time.  And, each new character brings in powers that complement the whole.  The main settings are different, though.

Youko Tama is a full demon out to stop the war between humans and demons by preaching the ways of peace and love.  When this fails, her "older step brother", Jinka Sendou, kicks everyone's butts.  Jinka is a human that drinks Youko's blood in order to gain super human powers, and eventually wants to turn into a full demon to stay by Youko's side forever.  Youko wants to punish evil demons that hurt humans, and this brings her into conflict with those that thrive on the human-demon conflict.  Along the way, the two pick up Hyoudou Shinsuke, a farmer trying to become a ronin (masterless samurai), and some other oddball characters that come and go.  The main villain is the head priest of a sect that inject themselves with demon parasites in order to gain powers for fighting demons.  The head priest is a researcher that has no interest in the pain he causes either his test subjects or the demons inside them.  The series is at 38 chapters and is still ongoing.

Sengoku Youko explores the standard themes of the importance of having friends, and what it means to be a human or a demon.  There are no easy answers, but there are some good fight scenes and interesting special powers.  If you liked Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer, you'll like this one.  Recommended.

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