Shin Megami Tensei Kahn, Volume One -

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  • Title: Shin Megami Tensei Kahn, Volume One
  • Story and Art By: Kazuaki Yanagisawa
  • Rating: Mature (18+)
  • Publisher: Tokyopop

Shin Megami Tensei Kahn, Volume One

Nadia's review for Shin Megami Tensei Kahn.

By Nadia Oxford, Columnist     January 31, 2008

Shin Megami Tensei Kahn, Volume One
© Tokyopop

The Shin Megami Tensei franchise spans games, books, manga and anime. Having been present in game format since the 8-bit Famicom (Nintendo), the series has become the Number-One Choice for Japanese fans looking for some old fashioned demon-summoning fun.

America has been comparatively slow to jump on the Shin bandwagon, which isn't surprising since the series deals extensively with plotlines that can be summed up with "God Must Die"--not the kind of stuff that would fly in the Bible Belt. Regardless, Shin Megami Tensei has found a significant American fanbase in recent years thanks to Atlus' Persona RPG series and manga such as Shin Megami Tensei Kahn. If you're into demons, ghouls and quick, dirty fights, you'll find a friend in Kahn.

Nobu is a high school student with about triple the normal levels of teenage angst boiling in his blood. He is one of very few to have survived a phenomenon that teleported his old high school into the Underworld, where he and his friends were forced to battle endless hordes of demons. Nobu escaped back to the surface world with his friend, Yumi, in hopes of starting a new life. Unfortunately for them, both the Government and a pack of demons bent on conquering the world want a word with the boy who escaped the Underworld.

Nobu is a relatively sympathetic character: He doesn't want to go back to Hell, and you can hardly blame him. He does have one flaw that prevents him from being taken seriously, though: His catchphrase. He says "it stinks" quite often, which is the very same catchphrase made (mildly) popular by Jay Sherman of The Critic. In Shin Megami Tensei Kahn, the saying applies to Nobu's ability to sniff out demons…and not surprisingly, they often smell rank. But even though the context is different, you're going to hear Jay Sherman in your head when Nobu speaks and you're going to smile about it, which is not exactly what this manga is trying to accomplish.

Happily, one instance of bad translation isn't enough to take down the rest of the story. Certain characters who are common to the Shin Megami Tensei series play significant roles in Kahn. General Gotoh and the mysterious girl Ozawa return as shaky allies of Nobu. The storyline focuses heavily on who's friend versus foe, which keeps things interesting: When you have a past like Nobu's, you want to make sure your new friend isn't suddenly going to sprout a forked tail and start bleeding pus out his eyeballs.

Of note are the warnings on and across Shin Megami Tensei Kahn that speak of intense violence, even going as far as to compare it to Battle Royale on a front-cover blurb. The truth is, it's really not as violent or intense as a story about children sentenced to kill each other on a desert island. It's certainly not a manga you'd hand to your little bro--there's blood, guts, and a softcore lesbian/demon sex scene--there's nothing there that can be called outright hideous and wretched, at least not in comparison to Battle Royale or The Drifting Classroom.

Neither series includes demons to much of an extent though, so if you need some dark myth and magic, you might want to summon Shin Megami Tensei Kahn. If you're already a fan of the franchise, you're probably halfway to the store by now anyway. Volume one retails for $10.99.


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Hobbs 1/31/2008 7:28:44 PM
Kaaaaaaaahhhhhhnnnnnn!!!! Whoops, thought this was another Star Trek update.
nadiaoxford 2/1/2008 6:19:25 AM
I think it's impossible NOT to think about Star Trek when anything with "Kahn" in it pops up.


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