Monday, July 2, 2012

Review: JIU JIU Volume 1

"Off the Leash"

CARTOONIST: Touya Tobina
TRANSLATION: Tetsuichiro Miyaki
LETTERS: James Gaubatz
ISBN: 978-1-4215-4274-4; paperback; Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
200pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 UK

Touya Tobina is a manga creator originally from Tokyo. In 2005, her series, Clean Freak Fully Equipped (Keppeki Shonen Kanzen Soubi), won the Grand Prize in the 30th Hakusensha Athena Newcomers Awards. VIZ Media is currently publishing her new series, Jiu Jiu, is a shojo manga. Jiu Jiu first saw publication in Japan as a one-shot manga in the shojo magazine, Hana to Yume. The series is essentially a supernatural fantasy with elements of high school teen romance, which may actually come to dominate the series in later chapters.

Jiu Jiu focuses on Takamichi Hachioji, a girl who is born into a family of “Dark Hunters,” people who hunt and slay the demons that lurk in the shadows. The Hachioji Clan is the largest clan of Dark Hunters. Takamichi’s twin brother, Takayuki, was killed protecting her, so she became the clan’s heir. Her family gives her a pair of wolf-pups that are half-animal and half-human, which she must train to be her “Jiu Jiu.” A Jiu Jiu is a Dark Hunter’s familiar and hunting partner.

Jiu Jiu, Vol. 1 opens with a 13-year-old Takamichi still grieving her brother’s death. Her family gives her two wolf-pups that she can train to be her Jiu Jiu if she wishes; otherwise, they will simply be killed because of their lineage. She names the white-furred one “Snow,” and the black-furred one, “Night.” Three years later, 16-year-old Takamichi is still trying to manage and control the now older pups. They frequently shift between their human and wolf forms and are clingy and needy. They want to help her, but she just wants to keep them on the leash.

Despite its supernatural leanings, one of which involves killing creepy-looking demons, the Jiu Jiu manga is not a shonen battle manga. Rather, it is decidedly shojo. This is a love story, one that is filled with both cutesy drawings of dogs and with tumultuous emotions.

What makes this first volume of Jiu Jiu successful is that creator Touya Tobina does not make anything easy for her characters. To understand one another, each character must first understand his or her own motivations and also be honest with herself (or himself). Denial, dishonesty, and selfishness can have dire consequences, as this volume’s last chapter, entitled “Jiu Jiu,” depicts.

To fully enjoy this story, the reader can engage the text in a literal fashion. The full implications of the story, however, can be grasped by opening up the imagination to the impressions (such as lust and want) that a reader may find in the visual narrative, which means feeling the wild sensations that the graphics are trying to convey. Obviously, I like Jiu Jiu; in fact, I’m ready to go off the leash for it.


No comments:

Post a Comment