Creators: Yoshinori Natsume with Camellia Nieh (translation)
Publishing Information: VIZ Media, B&W, paperback, 200 pages, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN
Ordering Numbers: ISBN: 978-1-4215-3659-0 (ISBN-13)
Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
Kurozakuro is a shonen manga from Yoshinori Natsume, the creator of the manga, Togari, and the writer/artist of Batman: Death Mask. Kurozakuro is about a boy who is bullied in school until fate brings him strange, new, and even dangerous powers.
In Kurozakuro, Vol. 1, readers meet Mikito Sakurai, the school punching bag for all the delinquents on campus, who also manage to enrich themselves with Mikito’s allowance. The gentle and easygoing high school student does not feel like a victim, but soon, his tormentors will be his victim. After swallowing a mysterious orb, Mikito meets Zakuro, a strange kid who offers to grant Mikito’s most heartfelt desire. When he chooses being stronger, Mikito inadvertently changes his life, but he also endangers his own life and the lives of all those around him.
This will sound strange, but the whole time I read Kurozakuro I kept thinking about Steve Ditko. It is as if Natsume borrowed from Ditko comics or were inspired by them. The trials and tribulations of Mikito as a bullied kid are reminiscent of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko’s Peter Parker of The Amazing Spider-Man, especially the early issues. The swallowing of the orb to gain powers is similar to Ditko’s DC Comics’ character, The Creeper, as is the design of the ogre child, Zakuro. The parts of the story that take place in Mikito’s dreams and the design of the ogres recall the visuals and graphics Ditko used in his Doctor Strange comics.
Beyond that, this is an excellent monster and quasi-superhero comic. It’s fun to read, and it has this dark, urban fantasy vibe this is quite attractive. Right now, it seems like a shonen manga to watch.
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