Red Hot Chili Samurai Vol. #01 -

Manga Review

Mania Grade: C+

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translation Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 and Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 10.99
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 978-1427817204
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Red Hot Chili Samurai Vol. #01

Red Hot Chili Samurai Vol. #01 Manga Review

By Matthew Warner     May 17, 2010
Release Date: March 30, 2010

Red Hot Chili Samurai Vol. #01

More mild than red hot, this series fails to stand out.

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Yoshitsugu Katagiri
Translation: Ryan Peterson
Adaptation: Bryce Coleman

What They Say
Samurai Kokaku Sento likes peppers. Scratch that - he loves them. The only thing Kokaku likes better than eating a hot chili pepper is helping his father kick the butt of bad guys! With the help of his bespectacled friend Ento and cutie-pie girl of action Ran, Kokaku will take a bite out of crime - but not before biting a spicy pepper first!

The Review!

If anything stands out about this book, it’s the cover.  The image displayed is one of the main character, Kokaku, shown with pale skin, red eyes, and a beautiful background made of various flowers and patters that blends into his coloring.  It’s a striking image that really catches your eye.  The back cover keeps the nice background but just dumps a plain box with a summary and a small image of Kokaku holding a pepper in the center.  It works, but isn’t anything special.  The paper used is acceptable, and a short extra comic is included.  The text reads smoothly and honorifics are maintained, but sound effects are left entirely untranslated with no subtitles, which is disappointing.  
The artwork is decent here, but oftentimes feels ever so slightly off, such as a character’s face feeling stretched or their lips looking a little too big.  However, there are also times when the art zooms in close and detailed shading is used, so things sort of balance out.  The action looks good, as do backgrounds.  There are also a few nice little character details such as Kokaku’s painted nails that stood out.  
Kokaku, a young samurai and son of the Hanshu, loves to eat peppers.  Not only that, but he is apparently helpless without them.  Along with a generic strict samurai in glasses named Ento, a generic woman named Ran, and a generic samurai named Shou who only talks using wooden signs (sooo wacky!), he fights crime.  In the first chapter they manage to bring down a corrupt gambler, and in the second they bust a brothel (guess who has to dress up like a woman in order to bring them down!)
From there, things get at least a little less bland, as we see the loose idealist Kokaku come into conflict with a strict samurai named Shikki who calls himself the turtle to Kokaku’s crane.  Then we meet Ento’s little inventor friend Tsumagi, and see the gang attempt to save him from corrupt men calling themselves samurai.  Next, we get a decently funny chapter in which Kokaku twists his sense of justice towards gaining back his pepper fields that had been accidently sold, acting rather questionably along the way.  Finally, we get a small side chapter in which we see Kokaku as a child, and learn why he is so obsessed with peppers.
In Summary:
With a cast made up of mostly flat, one dimensional characters, and a handful of useless, questionable gimmicks (eating peppers, never talking) to provide the “humor,” Red Hot Chili samurai really fails to leave much of an impression.  The silliness of the pepper field chapter and the way Kokaku and Shikki clash fundamentally provides a little bit of entertainment, but it really isn’t enough to hold up the book.  Perhaps if the side characters manage to grow a personality by the next volume this series could become something worthwhile, but as is this book is tough to recommend. 


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