By Haruka Shouji & Midori Natsu, translated by Jason Tanthum (DrMaster Publications)
If you’re one of those people who’s never read a manga tale, or who’s been tempted but discouraged by the terrifying number of volumes these tales can run to here’s a delightful little fantasy fable complete in one book that shows all that’s best about comics from the East.
Comfortably fitting into the Worst Witch/Harry Potter milieu of magical schools it details the exploits of young Enoki Ozunu, the best and most talented student at the Kusanagi School of Magical Architecture. This Tokyo establishment trains students to restore spiritual harmony to buildings using Feng Shui, and to exorcise the demons and ghosts that can infest a dwelling once its “Harmonic Seals” are broken. Narrative balance is more easily achieved by adding a bunch of memorable school friends – and enemies – and a chaotic home-life, courtesy of his foster family.
Beyond all the intriguing and exotic scenarios and mythology is a solid school-days comedy drama, packed with excitement and honest sentiment as orphan Ozunu and his sassy cat-girl familiar Kyara save people’s homes from giant Earth-Spiders, root rats, eel water-spirits and more; and rescue the odd monster from evil people.
Uncomplicated, charming, funny and unashamedly sentimental (I defy the hardest-hearted old git to read the story of the faithful ghost-cat without shedding a tear or two) this older kid’s adventure exemplifies all that’s best in Manga and is a darn good read to boot.
© 2006 Haruka Shouji. © 2006 Midori Natsu. English translation © 2008 DrMaster Publications Inc. All Rights Reserved.