"There's always a lesson to be learned in a canceled manga, but sometimes the only lesson is that people are stupid and don't deserve nice things"...Andrew Cunningham on Bokke-san posted on Evening Standard on August 24, 2009. I feel the same way about Togari.
Writer/Artist: Yoshinori Natsume
What They Say
Tobei goes out on the prowl seeking more sins to prey upon, and suspicious Detective Sawazaki is hot on his trail to discover what lies behind this young tough's curious activities. Whether he's a delusional monster or an aloof hero, Sawazaki has yet to decide. But time is quickly running out for Tobei with so many sins left for him to slay!
Tobei, the unrepentant young killer assigned to hell for three hundred years, is offered the chance to be free from hell and is returned to earth with the assignment to defeat 108 "manifestations of sin" or toga within 108 days. He is given a special weapon, Togari, with which to vanquish the evil.
At the opening of volume three, Tobei has been returned to modern Japan and in just under two weeks has defeated as many toga in as many days. The violence and confrontation of previous volumes had been leavened by Tobei's often comic 18th century interpretation of the 21st century mores and practices of modern Japan. There is less of that in this volume as Tobei has come to an uneasy accommodation with his environment and as Yoshinori Natsume finds the need to set out more of the conditions that will challenge and change Tobei.
And change is the operative word here. Tobei's change begins almost immediately when he arrives on earth and it comes in the form of the support and unconditional care of the Akagi family for this odd sixteen year old orphan for whom no kindness or concern was ever extended. Previous volumes showed a change in Tobei that was superficial; merely those things that would allow Tobei to get along. But in this volume the effects of the warmth of the Akagi family finally make an impression on Tobei.
Mrs. Akagi awakens a sense of Tobei's own humanity in two very motherly conversations, both of which don't seem to register with Tobei at the time. When Tobei is implored by Itsuki to save a little boy, he does so without really thinking- with only Mrs. Akagi's words prominently in his thoughts. However, this victory for Tobei's humanity may cost him his chance to be free from hell, for Togari gains its power from Tobei's evil spirit. And if Tobei loses control of Togari, he will be absorbed by it and doomed to suffer in eternity along with those who had previously failed to wield it.
But this isn't just a simple tale of good versus evil. Natsume stacks the deck against Tobei so that redemption on any terms, whether release from hell through an ever more evil spirit or through the triumph of humanity over despair, may not be possible. In subsequent volumes, an ever increasing humanity threatens Tobei's mission, but there is also an indication that powers of hell may not be all that interested in seeing Tobei succeed.
I've had quite a few series I had been following come to an abrupt end, especially in recent months, but none of the cancelations hit me as hard as when I found that volume 8 was the last volume of Togari. And not by Viz's choice, but likely that of the original publisher, Shogakukan. My heart was heavy for quite awhile; for if there ever was a series of which I wanted more, this is it. This shounen title is so much more than a monster slugfest - it's a tale about redemption and what it means to be human. Yoshinori Natsume has taken a straightforward tale of redemption and enriched it with complex motives and emotions.
If you are a reader who can enjoy the journey as much or even more than reaching a destination, then Togari just might be for you. It may be incomplete, but the eight volumes are well worth the read.