Yokaiden by Nina Matsumoto
Pages: 192 pgs.
First Published: Nov. 18, 2008
Yokai...A class of creature in Japanese lore, often translated as "monster," "demon," or "spirit."
Reason for Reading: Cybils nominee.
Summary: Hamachi loves Yokai (Japanese spirits) and feels that many of them are friendly and that people just misunderstand them. He wants to find out all he can about them and befriend them. A masterless warrior comes to Hamachi's town to pledge himself to the village that in return for lodging and food he will protect the town from Yokai as this town is supposed to be close to the portal of the Yokai Realm. Hamachi is angry beyond belief, when he returns home he finds his grandmother dead, presumably killed and he decides to find and enter the Yokai Realm. There he meets more Yokai on their own turf both friendly and evil.
Comments: I really loved this story! I know nothing about manga so can't base my review on that aspect but I'm assuming this is an American manga. The story is fast-paced, full of monsters both good and evil, some even hilarious. The humour factor throughout the book is high making an even more enjoyable read. I quickly became attached to Hamachi who will occasionally lose his temper and tell anyone off if he feels they are doing the wrong thing no matter how much older, wiser, bigger they are than him. What could be perceived as a cute little kid's story is in fact not, as it has an edge, a violent edge. When violence is called for it is used and some situations are startling, yet amusing. In between the story we are shown glimpses of Hamachi's journal where he draws pictures of the Yokai he meets and he narrates a little information about it. This in itself is interesting and funny. Not to mention an entertaining source of ancient Japanese mythology. The book ends on an exciting note leaving one wanting more. A great beginning to what could prove to be a fantastic series. I've already added volume 2 (due out at the end of Nov.) to my amazon cart!