Writer/Artist: Masanori / Ookamigumi / Katakura
Translation: Joe Yamazaki
Adaptation: Lance Caselman
What They Say
Kurohime is a big busty witch with the command of magical guns. She was once foolish enough to challenge the Gods and in doing so was punished. A curse was put on her that turned her into a little girl. The only way she can break this curse and turn back in to her big bad buxom self is to fall in love! This premise leads Kurohime on all kinds of crazy adventures in a magical land full of dangerous surprises.
To rescue the Spirit King of Water, Kurohime must fight the ogre goddess Saiy'ki! But even with the help of the demoness Asura, does she have a chance? Watching the battle from afar, Yashahime, the mistress of the dead, swears revenge against Kurohime for wrongs committed in the past. Sinking to the depths of the underworld, she finds the one dead person Kurohime cares about--her beloved Zero--and hatches a horrible plan for his soul!
Kurohime is a buxom witch with the power to control magical guns. She once made the mistake of challenging the gods and was cursed for her foolishness! Transformed into a little girl named Himeko, she can only regain her former body and powers when she falls in love. But finding love in a world fraught with evil is no easy task.
If this review is a little awkward, it's in part because I didn't expect to revisit this series. I didn't care much for Volume 1 of Kurohime when I read it over a year ago, so I didn't bother reading any of the later volumes ... until a review copy of Kurohime Volume 8 showed up out of the blue. With only one volume to compare against and a six-volume gap in my understanding of the storyline, I'm going to review this one as best I can, but bear with me if I'm not entirely clear on what's going on.
To Katakura's credit, the plot has advanced a lot more in the past six volumes than I expected, including the death of the protagonist no less. Volume 8 opens right in the middle of some of this turmoil, with Kurohime facing off against a couple of gods in a battle sequence that goes on for roughly half the volume. The fight is basically made up of spell/counter-spell/counter-counter-spell exchanges for 90 pages until the enemy inevitably gives in -- it's the kind of action style that I've never really cared that much for but that I know has its audience. This battle concludes when Kurohime's enemies weaken her resolve by trying to pull Zero's soul out of the underworld and destroy it while she watches. I know I've criticized Kurohime's artwork before (and I'm going to do it again in this review), but the artistic direction in this scene is actually pretty effective; I genuinely liked what Katakura was doing in the aftermath of the battle.
The story picks up after this confrontation when Kurohime regains consciousness in a nearby village. Once the plot moved away from the battlefield, I was surprised by how primitive the artwork suddenly looked -- it had the kind of low-detail aesthetic that you see in most other series' throwaway gag panels, except it extended through most of the rest of the volume. (Sure enough, I went back to Volume 1 and now noticed it happening even there, but not as often or as blatantly as in Volume 8.) For its part, the writing in this second act isn't much more compelling, as it mostly involves the cast (with the exception of the useless-up-to-this-point sidekick Kazuma) stuffing themselves with magic food until they're too obese to defend themselves from another god's advances.
To be honest, I feel odd giving a recommendation one way or the other on this release. I don't have a taste for shonen action series with lots of explosive spells and a high T&A factor, but I know that they have their fans, and if you've picked up the last seven volumes of Kurohime then it's safe to say that you fall under that category. The best recommendation I can give is that I disliked this volume for a lot of the same reason I disliked Volume 1 (and, conversely, people who liked those qualities about the series will probably still like them in the latest volume), but the increasingly shabby artwork might just be enough to turn off undecided readers.