Reiko the Zombie Shop Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, February 14, 2006
Release Date: Thursday, December 01, 2005
Translated by:Michael Gombos
What They Say
Terror has struck the sleepy little town of Shiraike. A serial killer stalks the streets murdering innocent girls. Twenty-nine grisly murders have been committed, with no clues to catch the killer. That is, until the town receives a strange visitor: a beautiful young woman who can raise the dead. She is Reiko the Zombie Shop, necromancer for hire. For a price, she'll wake your dead, if only to find a clue to their demise, but she's not responsible for what the dead will say or do once they awaken!
If Evil Dead or hyper-violent zombie movies are the source of countless hours of entertainment for you, then saddle up with Reiko the necromancer as revives the dead and watches them go berserk!
Dark Horse uses the original Japanese tankoubon cover art here with a dynamic shot of Reiko using her powers of necromancy. The colors are sharp and bright with the cover relatively clean from excess text so you can enjoy most of the art. The back cover features a gruesome illustration that should definitely let everyone know about the contents of this title. There is no age rating on this title, which I found kind of interesting as this is most definitely an older teen to mature title with the extreme gore and few bits of nudity.
The print reproduction is very solid, so everyone can get their violence in all it's sharp visceral glory. Chapter headers are included with character artwork. Extras include two pages of reader artwork and a funny 4-panel strip gag. If you wanted to witness the differences between the US and Japanese cultures, look no further than the reader artwork extras, which are mostly submissions from girls between the ages of 8 and 15.
There is a lot of funny contrasting art here by Rei Mikamoto that really highlights the campy aspect of this title. First off, the main character Reiko dresses in her school uniform with long flowing hair and saucer-sized eyes, a very cute character that could easily be found in romantic comedy manga. In panel with her are usually zombies or dead bodies that have been viciously mutilated and/or impaled, or other characters with exaggerated expressions of despair or horror.
The gore is pretty graphic and nicely detailed, but the style is so over the top that it becomes much more comical for those with a morbid sense of humor (which is the intended effect). Overall it is a very clean looking manga with thick line work and some very nice background detail, but what will draw readers is the absurdly detailed gore.
SFX are not translated, which is a bit of a shock after seeing Dark Horse translate them in other recent titles. It's not a huge deal in this title, as suspense is not something the story tries to create, but having the English text for "slurp" or "gush" during the gory bits would have been nice to have, especially since that's the fun in this title.
The translation reads quite well and seems to match the overall campy humor of the title. There are quite a few bad jokes that fit quite nicely ("I wish this was America. I could just buy a bazooka and blow these two away."). There is a good amount of foul language in here that while feels appropriate most of the time, it can also feel a bit overdone. But I guess everything is overdone with this title.
Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
In case the blood soaked, busty female on the back cover didn't tip you off, I'll warn you right now that Reiko is a graphically violent manga. Originally serialized in Horror M, which believe it or not is actually a josei marketed magazine, the story of Reiko the necromancer will very much appeal to fans of Tales from the Crypt, Evil Dead, or other gore-fest horror movies/comics. If the thought of an attacking undead fetus rocketing out of its undead mother's womb, illustrated in wonderful visceral glory, appeases your morbid sense of humor, then most likely this is your type of title.
Reiko, who calls herself Zombie Shop, is a necromancer for hire who for the right price (and she is greedy) will bring back your dead family members and friends from the great beyond. This job is usually performed in order to get answers to the secrets and mysterious surroundings their death. However, there are a couple of catches to bringing back the dead. For one, if a person dies violently or while holding some rage against another, the reanimated corpse could go berserk. Also, any corpses in ear shot of Reiko's chant to revive the dead will come to life. Therefore, it is best to avoid cemeteries, morgues, and other areas of densely populated stiffs if performing the ritual. Of course even with these warnings, the customers go ahead with their business and end up paying for it as the zombies do usually go berserk and send more dismembered limbs and torsos flying than a wood chipper party filled within drunken frat boys.
This first volume is structured into stand-alone cases and an ongoing story featuring a serial killer who is terrorizing the town by viciously murdering toddler-aged girls, in which Reiko's help is sought after by the detectives. The stand-alone cases are definitely good for a few cheap laughs, some stories better than others, and usually have some fun twist that of course ends with someone getting turned into meat casserole. As violently over-the-top the individual stories are, the ongoing serial killer case can sometimes feel like it's going a bit too far. It's filled with a lot of the same hyper-violent action, but a good amount of it is directed towards the young victims of the serial killer. No matter how ridiculous the gore is, there is something still unsettling about seeing a 6-year old laying on the floor with intestines out, eyeballs dangling, soaked with blood while the killer snacks on animal crackers. There is a line between funny and distasteful when it comes to extreme gore and violence; a line that I think most will find was crossed a bit here. On the plus side, the story does end with one hell of a bloodbath that does include the serial killer getting what's coming her.
Reiko is definitely a niche title that is aimed at fans of hyper-violent zombie movies or comics, where it takes a morbid sense of humor to laugh at the extreme portrayal of flying limbs, torsos, and exploding heads. This is total pulpy horror that is a cross between Evil Dead, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Tales from the Crypt. This one is for those who like to view their horror while wearing protective plastic wrap to avoid getting soaked by the copious amounts of blood and the occassional projectile eyeball.
If you haven't been turned off yet and are still reading this review, Reiko does offer some enjoyable moments here for sick and twisted fans of this type of material (like myself!). Reiko herself is a fun character who is more concerned about collecting her necromancer fees than the zombies gone berserk. She is very witty, sarcastic, and always has command over the situation she is in no matter how bad it looks. You never know what trick she has up her sleeve, which makes for a fun read.
While I do believe that violence in some cases can be quite humorous and campy, as it is here most of the time, there are a couple moments here where I felt it crossed that line a bit and became a bit distasteful. This ultimately did end up ruining a bit of my enjoyment. The volume does end on quite a bizarre note that definitely has me interested in the next volume. There is part of me that giggles at a lot here, but another part is yelling at my inner-self about going to hell for laughing at this material. I wonder if Reiko can do something about that bothersome latter half.
Mania Grade: C+
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: B-
Age Rating: All
Released By: Dark Horse
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Reiko the Zombie Shop