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Yokaiden: Volume 1    by Nina Matsumoto order for
by Nina Matsumoto
Order:  USA  Can
Del Rey, 2008 (2008)
* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Most original manga tell more Western stories, even though they are using an Eastern style of drawing. Nina Matsumoto, however, has used an Eastern story for her first published manga, Yokaiden, but the humor in it is pure Western.

Hamachi is obsessed with monsters, or, to use the Japanese folk lore term, yokai. With his trusty copy of Inukai Mizuki's 100 Yokai Tales, Hamachi sets off to try to meet some in the forest behind his house. He gets much more than he could have hoped for when he finds a Kappa caught in a trap. Hamachi frees the being by cutting off its leg. The Kappa vows revenge on whomever set the traps. When Hamachi returns home, he learns that his grandmother is the culprit.

After her mysterious death, Hamachi, now an orphan, sets out to find her killer by venturing into the world of the yokai. There, his dreams of befriending yokai start to come true, but he also finds himself up against monsters he never imagined.

Yokaiden is funny. Matsumoto has an uncanny sense of humor and knows how to bring it out in her dialogue and illustrations. Even the scarier yokai are drawn in a comical manner, which just adds to the hilarity of the story. Matsumoto also gently pokes fun at many manga stereotypes, like the young hero who befriends and joins up with everyone he meets along the way and the strong, Fabio-like monster hunter who will do anything for food.

Any manga fan looking for a fast, fun, and funny read should check out Yokaiden. Nina Matsumoto is definitely an American manga-ka to keep an eye on.

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