A fitting adaptation, while I am only recently acquainted with the subject at hand because of a close friend.
Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the advanced digital copy.
This volume is a translation of a 2015 adaptation of the classic tokusatsu (Japanese super hero) show. Ace detective Kaoru Ichijo is investigating a series of murders when he discovers the murderer was connected to something much more dangerous, real monsters. While out and about, Ichijo meets happy-go-lucky world-traveling student, Yusuke Godai, when Godai intercedes on behalf of a thief stealing to feed his family. When Godai wants to help save his fellow men from monsters, he comes across a power that could grant him the strength he needs.
Adapted from a story idea by the original Kamen Rider manga adaptation artist, Shotaro Ishinomori, Kamen Rider Kuuga leans in a more heavily to the horror elements that were just lightly present in the original manga. While it never reaches the level of a lot of contemporary horror manga, the villains and monsters are depicted with no small amount of body-horror transformations and deformity, adding to their sense of menace. This Kamen Rider, Kuuga, is more organically buglike (at least at first) though when it finally shows up to fight in the final cliffhanger, it resembles the classic character a bit more.
The art is hyperkinetic, dynamic, with a bevy of speed-lines. The characters are expressive, and their design is perhaps more cartoon-y than many North American readers might expect from a contemporary manga. This mix of the broadly cartooned characters and violent action with horror elements somewhat resembles Ishinomori's original work, but more graphically dense (while missing Ishinomori's beautifully rendered tableaus) and framed closer on the action.
Kamen Rider Kuuga volume 1 is a solid start to the series, but it's barely getting going by the final pages, as the titular character is only really showing up right at the end. Hopefully it keeps up the same momentum throughout, but unfortunately, there's just not a lot to go on in this first volume, which ends with a tease of things to come.
A very poorly written story. No idea what was going on most of the time. Monsters appear, some cop character fights them, but there's a robot-like superhero - what?? Who is the Kamen Rider Kuuga - is that the robot-like superhero? Where did he come from? What's the premise of this series? So much of this manga is incongruous. I gather that it's based on a popular TV series and it seems that you need to already be a fan of that to pick up this book because the book does nothing to lay even the most basic of foundations to establish what's going on - you either know it or you don't. Generic art accompanies to make for the most forgettable of reads. Weak stuff.
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Hello and welcome to the Board Review for Kamen Rider Kuuga Volume 1...is what I would say if I hadn't hijacked this review copy from the others. They just don't understand quality like we do. For full disclosure a copy of this book was provided for free by the publisher for the purpose of this review.
Now here's what I want you to think about: imagine if Power Rangers was a story told by Junji Ito. Take all of the hot-blooded "smiling through my tears for justice" energy of Tokusatsu and make it a horror manga. You will have something roughly along the lines of this adaptation of Kamen Rider. No people in foam suits LARPing around Saitama here. We've got gruesome murders and body horror of the "flesh-melting" variety.
Our main character, Kaoru Ichijo, is a detective with the Tokyo Police Department currently investigating a string of homicides where the victims are turned into human fireworks. After catching his prime suspect in the act, Ichijo comes face=to-face with a monster of unknown origins. This monster is immune to gunfire and possesses venom powerful enough to liquefy your organs on contact. What hope is there for a normal human like Ichijo against this unidentified lifeform? But then Kamen Rider appears to deliver a flying kick of truth from the top of a skyscraper. The monster is driven off but not defeated and Ichijo can feel that this is only the beginning.
Now you may have picked up on the fact that I like Tokusatsu media: Sentai Heroes, Kamen Rider, Ultraman, literally all of them. By extension of that, I also like any media that plays around with the framing of Tokusatsu. Love After World Domination uses that framing to tell a romance; Miss Kuroitsu of the Monster Development Department uses it to tell a workplace comedy. The manga adaptation of Kamen Rider Kuuga now uses it to tell a police procedural wrapped in a horror mystery and I love it.
Does this manga have some issues? Sure. Do I care about any of them? Not even a little. The moment a main character says, "I will fight to protect everyone's smile" and then hits us with a "HENSHIN," my critical faculties turn off. Which is why, with a 1 vote in favor and 0 against, Kamen Rider Kuuga is Warmadillo Inc. - Recommended