Kamunagara Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: AW Productions
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 1-58655-540-5
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Kamunagara Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     March 13, 2005
Release Date: October 01, 2004

Kamunagara Vol.#01
© AW Productions

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yamaura Hajime
Translated by:Yuki Urakawa
Adapted by:

What They Say
Kaguya is a teenager who lives with his aunt, Sakuri. The kendo coach at his high school, Narugami, has been after him to join the kendo team; but when he meets the new girl, Takemi, his life takes a super natural turn and he is thrust into an epic battle with demonic "intruders."

Reincarnation, long buried memories, a Holy Sword, and an entire clan of the Swordsmen...

It's all too much for a high school student to bear!

The Review
I have to say Media Blasters have been really impressive with their packaging so far. Kamunagara is no exception to this. Printed in a tall B6 with a matted finish, the front cover has an interesting character image of leads Takemi and Kaguya. These two are standing on what appears to be a boulder in front of a red background. Eerie! The logo is simply the title with a sub "Rebirth of the Demonslayer" beneath it, over an orange alpha cross. The cover is full of reds and blues and it really makes Takemi's white Shinto robe and Kaguya's skin stick out. The opposite cover has Kaguya's high school kendo coach, Narugami-sensei, in her keigo-gi (practice uniform) and skirt/hakama (cannot tell from this angle), standing next the long volume description. I like how the alpha cross is used to separate the cover in two - one-half text and the other art. Fancy.

Inside this series does not have colored pages, but the original racy volume header is present. The printing looks pretty good. I will say it is dark at times but I did not notice any major moiré problems. I believe this is the last volume that will not be done from original film or data files, I suspect this series will look much more like the other MBP titles soon enough. There are a couple minor extras included: a staff listing from Yamaura and a character index.

Yamaura's art is quite deceiving. It is inconsistent and it had me frustrated for it seems to be not very well developed. Character designs look pretty good. There is nothing really unique about the characters or the demons. Yamaura tends to use a good amount of line work for shading and to create expressions for his cast. Unfortunately, he seems to only know a handful of techniques to illustrate these expressions - angry (add tension lines under eyes and raise eyebrows), annoyed (add tension lines around eyes), scared (raise eyebrows and bug the eyes), coy (add tension lines under eyes), pleased (bugged eyes with tension lines and eyelashes)...). The characters tend to look pissed all time, and while Kaguya apparently is, the rest of the cast seems normal. There is inconsistency in regards to size and scale, where characters tend to look much longer than they should be. I also noticed Yamaura seems to have trouble drawing faces in certain angles. Maybe it is done purposely, but jaw-lines and eye placement tend to get weird from certain perspectives. There is very little variety in regards to costumes as the characters are often in uniform.

Backgrounds are on the stale side. I do commend Yamaura for using them effectively though; he seems to know when to have them there for action scenes and when to use them in dramatic scenes, as well. The layout is very creative. It shows a lot of variety and really sets an eerie tone for the manga. At times it showed me down when I was reading, and it can be a little tough to follow (mainly bubble placement and rotated panels), but I liked what I saw. The action scenes might not be very impressive, but they were framed well, and that is something that should be commended.

Media Blasters has done a decent job with the translation. I did not notice any grammatical issues and the font used was easy enough to read. I am not sure if it is because of the original text, but at times I felt the dialogue was a little choppy. I guess it is possibly because of how stiff Kaguya's character is, but at times the dialogue read rather flat. Takemi's lines were spirited, but the rest of the cast seemed almost void of personality.
SFX are translated with small subs. This is perfect for the amount of action in this title. I am not very impressed with the placement of their subs (sometimes they are just in whatever negative space a panel has or inside a large Japanese SFX), but I do appreciate the effort.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
There is a new girl in Kaguaya's class. Only one month since she transferred here, and she is already gathering attention from even the most cynical members of her class. She is cheerful, helpful and artistically talented. Moreover, she cannot wait to get to now Kaguya.

Kaguya has been having some weird dreams recently. In them, he consistently sees visions of a young woman resembling Takemi searching for him, calling him. There is no logical explanation for the association, yet he feels there is an attraction or an infatuation with this person that must be deep inside him for some reason. He feels that Takemi is a complete contrast to this dream-girl of his. There personalities are nothing alike, actually his dream woman is much more like his kendo coach, however something is drawing them together for some purpose.

Soon enough, the reason becomes crystal clear. They have been searching for each other for ages; waiting to be reunited in the battle against invaders from the otherworld. They are two sides of a coin. Kaguya inside him possesses a sword of tremendous strength, able to slay demons with each. Takemi has a mirror of healing, able to heal and collect the remains of the dead. Together they must hunt demons that are crossing over to this world with more frequency. This is what they were born to do. This is their relationship, relived through the ages, as a bond that transcends time.

For Kaguya all of this is too much to accept so easily. Yet, as soon as his past caught up to him and his family... Well he said it best himself, when he said, "It really didn't take a lot to get me going." Such is the life of a demon killer. The killing may be senseless and there may never seem to be a proper resolution besides death. Ultimately, fear of losing everything will overwhelm whatever guilt or hesitation one may have. Kaguya knows this now. But how can he do this alone? Takemi is only there for defensive purposes (and for demon clean-up). With the numbers rising there is nowhere else to turn right?

Kamunagara is one of those titles that had me fooled from start. When I first picked it up, I went into expecting another high school demon slayer; something in the vein of Viz's Ogre Slayer with possibly quicker pacing and likely more episodic (I have had some bad times with Shonen Gahosha titles before). After reading a few chapters, I almost bought into the prejudice I made for this title. In the final chapter, I was proven wrong. Yes, this is a monster of the week manga. Yes, it is apparent that Yamaura tried to mask that idea with this strange triangle relationship around Kaguya, Takemi and Narugami-sensei. But then there is that last chapter. It was set up perfectly by introducing random characters earlier in the manga. They were there for a minor reason, but how they come back has completely changed the dynamic of this title. A slasher has now become a potential crime-drama. Mysterious murders, often too random to ever solve, might now be further investigated. It is a crazy illogical idea in reality, and that is why Yamaura has his investigators initially hesitant to the idea, at the same time they are equally intrigued by this mysterious new facet of crime and criminal justice. I found myself feeling just as curious about it as the cops were, which is something I rarely find in most slashers.

There is a lot going on in Kamungara and Yamaura takes time to finally get to the point with some of his plotlines. Fortunately, he was able to pull me in at the right time. Now I am left wondering if this will be more like YuYu Haksusho or Onmyouji. Will it go the Taimashin route, using concepts like pathology and mythological culture or will it revert into something just as violent but not as well thought out, like Demon City Hunter. All the pieces are there for a fun ride and the cliffhanger at the end was as cruel as it can possibly be, but I still have to give it another volume before I fully commit to this title. The start was all over the place and it was a bit disjointed at times. I do not have a sense of time or real urgency. Moreover, Kaguya is an annoying lead with his brooding and reclusive attitude. He seems more like a murderer type, than a hero (if this manga went that way I would not mind). I am definitely interested though, so we will see how far Yamaura proceeds with this idea.


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