My eldest son handed me Kurozakuro from a stack of review copies I received from Viz last month. He said it was like a reverse Spider-Man and, after reading it, I think he’s right.
All kind and gentle Mikito Sakurai wants is for the bullies at school to leave him alone. Like Peter Parker, Mikito gains the ability to fight back by gaining super-powers. Unlike Peter Parker, these superpowers don’t come from a radioactive spider. They come from a demon seed that has entered Mikito’s body. It gives him clearer eyesight and heightened strength and agility.
It also turns him into an ogre with a violent streak who sees people as food.
Horrified, Mikito struggles to retain his temper and not kill his family and loved ones, especially his best friend, the lovely Saki. Complicating his need to retain control of his body is the presence of the Hunters, whose job is to kill Ogres. As far as they know, there is no cure to the demon seed save to kill the human it has possessed.
Mikito refuses to accept this. He doesn’t want to die and he doesn’t want to kill.
What Kids Will Like About It:
Bullying is a familiar problem to many teens, especially boys who are more timid than others. It’s impossible not to sympathize with Mikito and his problem. The legend of the demon seeds is intriguing and there are great action sequences as the Hunter destroys several ogres who have completely lost their humanity. Viz has this rated T for older teens. There is significant violence but it’s not over-the-top and the black and white images tend to mute the bloody gore that might have more effect in color.
What Parents Will Like About It:
This is a complex story with no easy answers. Becoming violent doesn’t make Mikito’s life better, which is an interesting lesson in today’s world. The Hunters come with their own history and sacrifices as the more they kill the ogres, the shorter their own lives become. In the first issue, the older Hunter is already at the edge of his existence and his younger apprentice is insistent on becoming a full-fledged Hunter herself. He doesn’t want this for her because he doesn’t want her life shortened as his has been.
As with most Viz trades, this one is in black and white. Sometimes this is a hindrance to the art but, in this case, it only emphasizes the stark reality confronting Mikito. My favorite panel is the one in which Mikito meets the demon in his dreams. The demon stands under the empty boughs of a tree and demands that Mikito decorate it with “flowers.” By flowers, he means blood.
About the Creator:
The story and art are both by Yoshinori Natsume. Natsume is the author of Batman: Death Mask, which was done in the manga style and Togari, a manga published originally in Japan, also by Viz. Kurozakuro ran seven volumes in Japan but only the first volume is available here. Volume 2 is schedule for release in January.