New Manga: Oh My Susano!

By Mat K.

I know the title this week is a little dramatic, but there is practically nothing coming out this week. I know there was that one week a little while ago that absolutely nothing came out, but this is pretty damn close. That’s right, only five titles grace us with their presence this week, and two of them are yaoi books. Two other books are Viz books, and at least these two are long awaited releases. One of which is Takehiko Inoue’s Real Volume 9, and the other is Saturn Apartments Volume 2. So at least there are a couple things to look forward to, but lets be real, that is not enough to base this entire article on. Soooooo, time for a review week! The lucky title to earn this week’s spotlight is a book I never mentioned before, and came in under the radar a few weeks back called Tenken by Yumiko Shirai.

So apparently Tenken won the Japan Media Festival Arts Award and is coming to us via a small publisher called One Peace Books. I’ll let you bask in that for a second….okay, moving on. The book starts out telling the story of young Susano, the brother of Amaterasu. He was walking down a river and comes across an old couple who used to have many daughters, but a giant demon with 8 serpent heads comes every year and takes one of their daughters away, now they only have one left. Susano promises to save them and the daughter if they promise to make her his bride. They agree, so he get 8 vats of liquor, and 8 gates to place in front of the vats. When the serpent comes, it drinks the liquor, and passes out with each head in a gate. Susano then cuts off each head and wins. Now this is all on the intro page before you get into the actual manga.

The story of Tenken is pretty epic and is only a one-shot book, so you don’t have to worry about investing in a series. The main story takes place in the future, quite some time after the global nuclear war, when the world is becoming healthy again and humanity is rebuilding. A man in charge of a construction company hires a young girl who has no fear of heights and is their best worker on the tops of the scaffolding. She’s a runaway who’s village wants to make her the “sacrificial princess” for the upcoming festival. Unfortunately, even though it’s a national celebration, the town she comes from actually sacrifices their princesses in order to pray for 50 years of peace and prosperity. The book takes you on a journey into the true source of the festival and the secrets of the deities all these people pay homage to.

It’s really interesting stuff, and the artwork is really pretty, but I have two points of contention with the book. While the artwork is lovely, it is also very ink-brushy and when combined with random flashbacks, is often bound to confuse you, and cause you to reread a page a few times. Also, I feel as though the editor didn’t work close enough with the translator. Don’t get me wrong, 90% of the text and dialogues are fine, but there are definitely grammatical errors and weird phrasings that will throw you off now and then. Editors: the red pen is your friend! Don’t be scared to use it.

Anyway, it’s still a good read, so I still recommend it. Til next time people!

Ja Ne!

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