Cover Image: Mao, Vol. 1

Mao, Vol. 1

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This is the newest series from legendary Mangaka, Rumiko Takahashi. For those who aren't aware, she is the author of titles like InuYasha and Ramna 1/2. I'd say this is closer to InuYasha as it involves a lot of time travelling and fantasy elements in it. Folks who are interested in Japanese folklore will probably get a kick out of the yokai references that are scattered throughout this first volume.

This is an interesting thing for Takahashi sensei, as the protagonist is the character that the series is named after - in this case, the turn of the 20th century doctor Mao - but the way the story is mostly told is through the lens of the young woman he meets. That young woman in this story is Nanako, a bit of a timid teen who's sense of isolation from her peers is amplified by her having lost her parents in a house fire when she was younger. Of course she's not all that, and we learn that she is pretty special herself when she is sucked through time into Taisho Era Japan (this is basically the late 1900s to mid 1920s). She meets the surely Mao, a cursed exorcist and gets caught up in his quest to find the demon cat, Byouki.

I think this is a pretty good setup for the story so far. With manga that feels like its going to be longer running, I usually give it a couple of volumes to help lay out the trappings of the story. Here Takahashi Sensei starts with a decent pace by giving us some worldbuilding and action at the same time. Mao feels very much like our favorite half-demon dog, InuYasha, but more mature and hilariously more broody. So far, I think that Nanako is the more interesting character, as she actually gets some more developed plot points already. Also, the references to Japanese folklore help move the story along, with a pretty gross depiction of the Japanese spider lady (it's not graphic, but the implications of the reveal are nasty).

I liked this, so far, even if I think that Nanako might lose some of her story to highlight Mao's. I hope not, because Mao's back story is interesting even if he currently is not and Nanako is a fun insert character. Takahashi sensei flat out writes great fantasies. She doesn't break many conventions, but the stories she does tell resonate with a ton of people. Mao looks like it could continue this trend.
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I received an eARC of this title through NetGalley in return for an honest review. 

I really liked this manga. It is reminiscent of Inuyasha in the sense that the main character, Nanoko, can travel either back in time or to a different universe. While it is similar in this sense, I felt it does diverge a bit after that in the back story of Nanoko. There is a bit of something for everyone in here. There's action, mystery, and an intriguing story of a girl who is trying to remember what happened in the car accident she can't seem to remember years earlier. 

The artwork is well done and in the typical style of Rumiko Takahashi. If you liked Inuyasha and Ranma 1/2, then you will enjoy this new series by this very talented manga author.
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A classic Takahashi manga, not as silly as Ranma or Maison Ikkoku or but not as horror-filled as the Mermaid Saga.  this one looks like more of a action-packed mystery series, run through with themes and creatures from Japanese mythology.  On the one hand, the fact that the POV character doesn't know much about the mythological world and its rules allows for a nice structure of the large amount of exposition this world needs.  On the other hand, the other characters (especially Mao) don't tell Nanoka (our POV character) enough to be safe in the universe and understand her place in it.  Is this lazy writing to ratchet up dramatic tension?  Or is there a deeper reason why Mao might not fully trust Nanoka?  Time will undoubtedly tell.....
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Rumiko Takahashi is one of my favorite authors & Inuyasha is my favorite manga & anime series.. When I saw that this was the last series she's made, I had to read it. This manga reminds me so much of Inuyasha. I wasn't sure what I was getting into but after reading Vol. 1, I was already hooked. I loved how its set in two time periods. The plot is interesting & I cannot wait to see where it will lead. I have to read Vol. 2 now.
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I've been a fan of Rumiko Takahashi for years now, and this new title seems to be similar in tone and theme to both Mermaid Saga and InuYasha, which I'm very excited about! The premise is interesting and I can't wait to see where it goes from here. .
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This manga was a solid read. For anyone wanting to try Rumiko Takahashi, I think they will enjoy this book. The art is, of course, gorgeous. The story is intriguing and keeps you entertained. I like the mystery surrounding the cat demon who has cursed people and I am interested to find out the story behind our main protagonist.  

My only issue with this manga is that, aside from a few plot points, this is almost the same as Inuyasha. It has our main protagonist time travelling from modern day Japan to an older era and finding out that there are demons and that she is special in some way as she has magic powers. I am hoping that as the manga goes on, it will differentiate from Inuyasha and shine on it’s own. 

I am giving this manga a 3 out of 5 stars with the hope that the next volumes will be more unique.
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Mao is the most recent manga series by mangaka Rumiko Takahashi.

Mao Volume One
Written by: Rumiko Takahashi
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: September 14, 2021

The story opens by focusing on a middle school girl named Nanoka Kiba, who was saved from the wreckage of a freak accident eight years earlier at the Gogyo Town Shopping Center. Her parents died in the accident, but she was found outside the car, covered in blood, and not breathing. It’s been a bit of a mystery why she survived and her parents didn’t.

Rumors begin to swirl that odd noises can be heard at the location where the accident happened. When Nanoka and her classmates go to check it out, only Nanoka can hear anything. As she goes through the alley, she finds herself transported to another world; in a later scene, it’s revealed that she goes to 1920’s Japan when she’s in this other world. What Nanoka notices at first is that she can see through the people that are there, almost as if they’re ghosts. She is attacked by a yokai and ends up being saved by a man wielding a longsword and his companion… and it should be noted that the man and his companion are solid, just like Nanoka.

The man with the sword is named Mao, and he is an onmyoji searching for the byoki that placed a curse on him. His assistant is a shikigami named Otoya. Mao starts asking Nanoka is she’s an ayakashi, and of course, Nanoka has no idea what’s going on. She makes it back to her own world, and hardly any time has passed. However, he friends ask her why she’s suddenly so muddy. When Nanoka makes another trip to this different world, we learn that the amount of the passage of time in our world changes when she returns. At first, it’s only a few seconds… but later, after only spending two days in the other world, a week has passed in our world. When she returns to school after that excursion, we get the classic Kagome excuse from Inuyasha: she was in the hospital all that time.

When it comes to Mao, it turns out that he isn’t from the 1920’s world, either. In flashbacks, we see him in what appears to be feudal Japan, wearing a robe that looks awfully similar to Inuyasha’s robe of the fire rat. At one point in this volume, Mao figures he has to be around 900 years old. Nanoka, who didn’t really have much memory of the accident from her childhood, starts remembering events from that day, and it appears that both she and Mao have been affected by the byoki. Near the end of the volume, Nanoka joins Mao on an investigation of who has been killing young men in 1920’s Japan and taking their heads.

Later in the volume, we get to meet Nanoka’s classmate Shiraha, who has researched the accident that Nanoka had been in. When she asks him why he already knows so much about the accident, Shiraha says it’s because he’s impressed by how tough she is because of all she’s gone through and can still remain upbeat. But as her friends later point out, they think he’s learned all of this because he has a crush on Nanoka.

It appears that the series is being set up to have an overarching story of trying to find the byoki, as well as supernatural investigations that Mao and Nanoka will participate in. This series has a strong hook to keep the reader wanting to come back, and it shows a lot of promise. Hopefully the series can continue to be as strong as this initial showing.

Having said that, though, it feels like Takahashi has gotten stuck in a bit of a thematical rut since Inuyasha‘s success. The two series she has launched since Inuyasha have featured a female protagonist who has some kind of supernatural ability or is able to travel between worlds. The main male protagonist is supernatural in some sense (Rinne is a shinigami while Mao is an onmyoji). In both RIN-NE and Mao, the female protagonist helps the male protagonist with the duty or goal they have. When comparing the start of RIN-NE and the start of Mao, I have to say that Mao has the stronger start. But I do hope that in future volumes, Mao can find a way to differentiate itself more from both RIN-NE and Inuyasha.

The art style is what readers familiar with Rumiko Takahashi’s work have come to expect from her. At least with Mao, her protagonists don’t resemble the main characters from her other works much as much as the protagonist from RIN-NE did.

If you’re a fan of Rumiko Takahashi’s work, then I think you will likely enjoy the first volume of Mao.
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I really enjoyed the start of this new series! I'm much more interested in Mao and Otoya than Nanoka based on this single volume, but I'm sure as the series goes on they will explore the other characters more. I love the supernatural element and time travel, reminds me a lot of Inuyasha. If you're looking for some funny, action packed manga I'd recommend this!
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After the more subdued comedy of RIN-NE, Rumiko Takahashi's new series Mao is an interesting change of pace. While it would be easy to compare it to her work on InuYasha, the story effectively uses its early chapters to carve out a unique identity and establish some core plot-lines. This is a testament to Takahashi's decades of experience in manga, and while it's unclear how much of Mao's story has been planned out, it feels like a confident take on the shonen action genre. I'm looking forward to reading more of Mao, and it is wonderful to see another Rumiko Takahashi series in English.
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Rumiko Takahashi does it again with this action-packed fantasy manga series! 

Ranma 1/2 was the very first manga I ever read, and since then I've been a huge fan of Rumiko Takahashi's work. She is one of the most prolific manga creators of all time- and Mao is sure to be another hit!

This manga follow Nanoka as she deals with the mystery of what happened to her in the fatal car accident she was in as a child. Mao is the exorcist who reluctantly helps her- and I already love their dynamic and banter. The artwork is top grade, and pulls you in from the first page. 

There is some gruesome violence, so this is for young adult or older readers. But the trademark humor of this author is always present, and the rich world of yokai comes alive in this thrilling manga!
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Advanced Reader Copy supplied by NetGalley but opinions are my own. 
Mao is a fun story that follows a girl in Tokyo who is transported to another place and time. She had suffered a terrbile loss when younger and this new place may have clues as to what happened to her. She meets Mao and with him she begins to learn more about the mysterious accident she had. This story while a monster story is not scary and is great for most ages. I want to learn more about what happens to them and where this story goes next. Will be buying these books as they come out.
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It is Inuyasha with less spunk and flare. 

Legendary mangaka Rumiko Takahashi comes with a new installment since the release of Rin-Ne. With sequential publications of classics like Urusei Yatsura, Maison Ikkoku, and Mermaid Saga, I got excited to see what new work is on display. I came out more or less lukewarm.

The plot is a simple - school girl Nanoka, with memories of a mysterious accident, gets transported to a mythical feudal world of monsters and exorcists. Mao, the exorcist, notices her hidden potential as a person affected by the byoki’s curse (byoki being a sort of demon). Ergo they join forces to find the byoki. 

The first volume lay an easy to follow set up - two distinct worlds with their respective atmosphere, tones, creatures, and time zones - yet lack punch. Nanoka and the crew do not have much charm as they all seem to have one steady facial expression - dejection. Sure there is a fight scene, yet none of it felt all too gripping and on the topic of their expressions did not deviate further. They are still characters - each with their own motivation and mystery yet no intrigue or personal investment as a reader. Inuyasha had the spunky bratty attitude, Rin-Ne (while similar in its facial expressions) had a unique premise of financial woes through exorcisms, and Urusei Yatsura had its teasy tongue-in-cheek demeanor with galactic absurdities - Mao, from this volume, has little to offer as a distinct Takahashi work. Perhaps there is more to be gained in later volumes as this is more set-up for what’s to come, yet I was disappointed after reading. 

As a Rumiko Takahashi fan it is still a title to keep tabs with, though for general readers (by that I mean passive manga fans) this may be a tad boring for them to read. A possible hook will be to remind readers of past works that strikingly associate her work - Inuyasha and Mermaid Saga respectively. I hope to see what comes next in the forthcoming volume.
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Mao is the latest from manga titan Rumiko Takahashi. My immediate thought reading this first volume was a previous juggernaut series Inuyasha. Like that series, Mao is a transmigration tale in which a young student travels to a past plagued with demons. Nanoka is a middle school student who survived a freak accident that took the lives of both her parents. One day after wandering through a portal within a shopping district she meets Mao, a demon exorcist and his plucky sidekick Otoya. This meeting awakens Nanoka to new realizations about Mao, herself, the accident she survived. It also sets her on new journeys alongside Mao and Otoya to defeat demons and keep Taisho-era Japan safe. 

As mentioned, the parallels to Inuyasha are strong. Aside from the basic premise of the series, the characters also harken back to Takahashi's previous series. That familiarity may be a pull or a deterrent to readers. I enjoyed the demon slaying aspect, as it seems the manga is tailored towards that demon of the volume kind of approach. I think one aspect I missed was Takahashi's trademark humour but this was an initial volume so I hope to see more of that as the series progresses. 

Recommended for fans of supernatural adventure series like Demon Slayer or Rumiko Takahashi mainstays.
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Rumiko Takahashi is a legend.  Since 1978 she has been producing wonderful manga series.  I still watch Ranma  1/2 and Inuyasha.  Two classic series that should be in ever library collection.  Reading that Takahashi was begin a new series called Mao was an exciting day.  Thank you for letting me read an advance copy.  

Mao volume 1 shares some elements with the beginning of Inuyasha.  There is a girl in present day that travels through a "portal" into the past, not as far back though.  Nanoka was in an accident as a child.  Her memory of it is shaky but her parents died and she was injured.  Nanoka now lives with her grandfather and a woman named Uozumi who takes care of them.  Nanoka has always been told she has a weak constitution from the accident and Uozumi makes her vitamin shakes to help. One day on the way home from school with friends, Nanoka passes the spot of her accident and hears a strange sound.  She turns to investigate and finds herself in an old time shopping district but the people are transparent.  In the Taisho era of Japan, a man named Mao is searching for a demon name Byoki when he sees a strangely dressed girl in a shopping district full of transparent people.  The girl is then attacked by a yokai.  Once Nanoka is safe she thinks Mao is weird and definitely just wants to get home.  
Unfortunately for Nanoka, she seems to have been changed by the chance the meeting.  She seeks Mao out to ask him some questions and is  only pulled deeper into Mao's quest for Byoki.  

A promising start to a new series! Fans of Demon Slayer : Kimetsu no Yaiba and Inyasha will be very excited.
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The idea that Rumiko Takahasi was doing another series is mind blowing. The outline simple girl named Nanoka falls into a magical world meeting a boy named Mao. BUT I AM HERE FOR IT. Interseting the art from Inuyasha to Mao hasn't changed to much, for this reader it was a little nostalgic. I adore the high stakes in Rumiko's stories and Mao vol.1  has got it. Looking forward to the world of spirts and yokai in a somewhat detective vibes story.
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**I received an ARC from the publisher on Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

I really enjoyed this manga and can't wait for volume 2. I loved the storyline of traveling back in time and fighting demons. It was captivating from start till finish.
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This story is very reminiscent of lots of other titles by Takahashi, so it should be appreciated in a collection where Inu Yasha or Mermaid Saga are popular (this isn't as whimsical as Ranma 1/2, but readers of that might still appreciate Mao). There is a mystery established in this first volume that will hook readers, but the main goal of finding the yokai who cursed Mao and potentially Nanoka as well, means this story could develop into one of those famous Takahashi forever journeys that span 20-ish volumes before any sort of resolution is hinted.

Sara's Rating: 8/10
Suitability Level: Grades 10-12
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When I heard there was a new(er) manga series from Rumiko Takahashi, I came running. Known as one of the most loved manga artist of all time within Japan and worldwide, she’s a dedicated storyteller who can do the job. I knew that I was in for a treat. Mao volume one tells a story with several familiar bits that we all know and love and giving us a new Takahashi work for the ages.

While I did enjoy this first volume, I did not love it completely. I was fascinated by the world building and narrative: time traveling back in time, supernatural vibes all the way through, mystery and a partnership in the making that we’ll follow. I did find that the pacing of the chapter--or the events left me feeling a bit discombobulated, making me flip back a few pages to make sure I didn’t miss anything. 

First volumes are hit or miss in getting readers to continue reading and I found that I wasn’t very attached or endeared to the main characters: Mao the sword wielding exorcist with a past and Nanoka, the dare I say plucky--headstrong school girl. Sure they follow the usual archetypes that Takahashi has used for decades. Think Kagome and Inuyasha, Sakura and Rinne. But this shouldn’t deter potential readers--I’m sure there were folks who didn’t love Inuyasha immediately, even with his dog ears. Or folks who didn not even give Rinne and his fabulous coat that’s a part of his uniform.

What this volume did remind me of how intricate a story Takahashi could craft: the traveling through time into the Taisho era and seeing all manner of yokai and creatures held my attention. I was always impressed with how effortless the mangka did this in other series. The setup of the mystery of the wickedness behind the misery that touches so many lives was intriguing. The modification of certain character’s bodies and transformation spiced up..

With that being said, I wouldn’t recommend this to a newer reader of manga to introduce them to the GOAT that is Rumiko Takahashi’s work. Viz is doing the good work of re-releasing older and well loved works like Mermaid Saga and Maison Ikkou that I’d suggest first. 

Narrative threads bring together the thread of destiny and striking out on your own: so both protagonists dip into that in this first volume…”Exorcise your destiny in an era-spanning supernatural adventure from manga legend Rumiko Takahashi!” A solid first volume but one I loved a little less of the starts of her other previous series. I love the classic manga feel of Takahashi manga. I love the magic she brings!
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After an serious accident, Nanoka is transported back to the Taisho Era where she meets Mao, an exorcist who fights demons with a magical, cursed blade.  When Mao realizes they share similar special abilities, they join forces to investigate a series of murder and attempt to figure out what has happaned to Nanoka.  Rumiko Takahashi's Mao, Vol. 1 is a standout entry into the vast universe of folklore and mythology manga.  Vol. 1 is a great start to a series that is sure to be popular with fans of Dragon Ball Z, Avatar, and Naruto who are looking for something with more historical context that still maintains supernatural elements.
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This first volume is setting up an interesting world. I haven’t read InuYasha, so can’t make comparisons to that, but I’m enjoying the premise of Mao. I’m looking forward to seeing how the characters develop to get further invested in the story. Volume 1 is a good foundation.
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