Cover Image: Mao, Vol. 1

Mao, Vol. 1

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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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Take the journey into Manga! Strong characters and a compelling storyline. A worthwhile escape into a new genre. Can’t wait to see more from Takahashi. Note to self: thank my son Matt for waking me up to how to read traditional Japanese text! New to Manga? Check out the last page first. Arigato gozaimasu!
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I can already tell this is going to be another fantastic series from Rumiko Takahashi. The amount of effort put into researching the time period and planning the world building details must have been massive. I love the use of this uncommon time period for a supernatural (and hopefully romantic) manga series. The characters were instantly likable. I can’t was for the next volume.
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We Share the Same Curse, Don’t We? - Mao Vol. 1 [Manga]

I Should Have Been Dead That Time.

Mangaka: Takahashi, Rumiko
Publisher: VIZ Media
Genre: Shounen, Supernatural
Published: September 2021 - Ongoing

After accidentally going through a portal, Nanoka finds herself transported to the Taisho era, where she encounters her first yokai and meets Mao. The encounter with the yokai didn’t leaver her in that great of shape. She eventually rcovers from her wounds with Mao’s assistance. She is then returned to her world and discovers she has gained some new abilities. She goes back toTaisho era for Mao and to look for answers. She seeks and learns that Mao has been placed under a curse along with his sword by a cat demon, Byoki and if anyone but Mao wields his sword shall meet their demise. But, a situation left Nanoka with no choice but to wield his sword to save his life.

--- Spoilers Ahead ---

Discussion Time

If you have recognized the art style from the cover of this Manga, yes, it is none other than the creator of the Inuyasha, Maison Ikoku and Ranma ½ series. Mao’s world setting is quite similar to Inuyasha but somewhat in a different universe. After entering the past, Nanoka has been labelled as an Ayakashi by Mao, the exorcist. 

The story’s pacing is quite decent, and the information they present is sufficed enough to make a solid development. There are some mysterious concepts to the story, but that wouldn’t be the primary genre of this series as it is more about tracking and hunting down a cat demon, Byoki. 

Why You Should Read Mao

1.	Characters

You thought a high school student would go crazy and sometimes whining when they find themselves in another world or dimension or the past. But no, not this one. Nanoka has been through an unexplainable accident at the shopping district that no even the police or the authority can explain the supernatural phenomenon. Her optimistic personality allows her to look at the situations objectively, which creates good chemistry with Mao’s lack of emotions.

The fact that Mao’s doesn’t show many expressions in this series makes his character realistic because he about 900 years old ever since he has been inflicted with a curse from Byoki. In short, he doesn’t get surprised easily due to his long history of experience as an exorcist.

Otoya is Mao’s Shikigami. His job is to provide information and assist Mao at all times. The way he explains to Nanoka isn’t bad in terms of rubbing in her face kind. Details of enemies are presented respectfully, nothing more, nothing less, to Mao and Nanoka.

2.	Art

If you are tired of seeing many modern art styles from the Manga you have read, the artwork of this series is unique by itself. It may be classic, but the way she drew the monsters and characters are meant to cater for readers of all ages, letting us focus more on the story itself.

3.	Momentum

The arrangement of the series isn’t like get to the final battle instantly. Each chapter and content are like a stepping stone to each other, and the context they build is solid for the upcoming development. It is all about the journey, not the final result.

4.	Yokai

Now, who wouldn’t be interested in living in a world with Yokai? In a fictional world, at least. We would have been cowering in our homes at night without sleep. It is nice to see the supernatural practices shown in the Manga that could be related to the ones we have heard in reality. It reminded us of how scary yokai can sometimes be, but that doesn’t mean every one of them is dangerous. Some yokai are peaceful and just want to live their own lives in peace and not disturb everyone. Each yokai have a story of their own and how they used their ability to manipulate and hunt humans.

Final Thoughts

Mao is created by a legendary mangaka, Rumiko Takahashi. Even though there are many modern art styles in the current manga market, she improves her unique art style. The characters may look classic to young generations, but the story she offered isn’t something we should look down upon. The progression is smooth and natural, the characters are likeable, and the yokai aren’t that intimidating as it is meant to be enjoyed by everyone. If you are interested in a slow pace manga that gets better and better as the story progresses about a high school girl who can visit both the past and the present world to find the truth behind such ability while helping Mao hunting down a demon cat so that he can lift his curse, you might want to give this one a chance.

By Nobodies17
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<i>Mao</i> is the latest series from manga great Rumiko Takahashi. At first glance it has elements of both of her most recent titles: Mao himself is an exorcist (similarly to Rinne) and he's involved with yokai a la <i>Inu Yasha</i>, with whom he may also share an originating time period. Meanwhile heroine Nanoka goes back in time like Kagome while sporting Akane's hair. It is, in many ways, classic Takahashi, which may or may not sit well with readers.

There are a lot of very interesting elements here, however. Nanoka is the sole survivor of a car wreck that occurred when a sinkhole opened up underneath her family's car, killing her parents. Nanoka's only memories of that day are seeing what looked like an old-fashioned street burning and a giant monster towering over it all. When she returns to the area where the sinkhole opened up, she's whisked away to Taisho 12...AKA 1923. If you know your history, that's the year of the Great Kanto Earthquake, which did, in fact, involve fires like the one she glimpsed as a child. That the main action of Nanoka's story is going to involve the Great Kanto Earthquake seems like a foregone conclusion, both from her memories and from the introduction of cult-leading "psychic" who is predicting something that sounds awfully similar.

Both Nanoka and Mao may have been cursed by the same yokai, a cat monster named Byoki. In Mao's case, the cat's attempt to take over his life resulted in his immortality, and he's been wandering the earth since what looks like the Heian era, although it could be as late as the Sengoku period. What Byoki did to Nanoka is still unknown, but now that the two of them are working together, there's real potential here. There's also no guarantee that it won't devolve into another same-old, same-old series from the creator, but we should at least get a few good volumes before that happens.
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