MANGA REVIEW | "Ayashimon" - Volume One
Let’s be clear: the yakuza are a bad bunch. No Kiriyu Kazuma-starring video game franchise can silence that fact. But you know what’d be eviler? How about if the yakuza were also the most ferocious (and literal) monsters around?! Welcome to the world of Ayashimon, from the same mad man who brought us Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku!
Maruo is just your average Shonen Jump-loving kid. Okay, he’s not. In fact, he vowed to be as strong as the likes of Goku and Jotaro Kujo, to the point where he actually got the strength to beat up just about everyone in his vicinity. Alas, like Saitama in One-Punch Man, Maruo is now bored and looking for a worthy fight. That’s where Urara, the daughter of the deceased Enma Crime Syndicate boss, comes in.
It’s in their meeting where Maruo discovers a new and exciting manga-like world. The baddest yakuza of the bunch are actually yokai known as Ayashimon, and Maruo’s couldn’t be happier with this discovery! Using his strength, Maruo makes an example of a large foray of Ayashimon for the sake of protecting Urara. Knowing that she has struck gold, Urara offers Maruo a proposition: be her right-hand man, and reclaim Kabukicho in the name of the Enma family.
Author Yuji Kaku gets straight into the mess in Ayashimon. While there’s plenty of lore behind this story, it’s the kind that is only worthy of a manga protagonist’s story. Hilariously, Maruo can’t handle too much exposition, to the point where his head feels like it explodes when fed too much info. So Kaku keeps the premise simple, as to not cause any mental pain to his hero-to-be. After all, it’s more fun to see for one’s self the kind of chaos that’s in store for the readers.
Much of the first volume sets up Maruo for this new life of his. He and Urara go to the red lantern district to set up shop, taking the first office they can snag from an enemy syndicate. Of course, there are rules when it comes to fighting, many of which Maruo break for the sake of cutting out the unneeded tension. But he learns fast the ways of the Ayashimon, with his first massive fight to nab an office spot ending with them tearing the roof floor of the place!
It’s easy to see what makes Ayashimon’s fights so badass! When Maruo gets into battle mode, he and the creatures he faces off hold nothing back whatsoever! Bones break, teeth fly out, heads are severed, and cars are often chucked at monsters for one final kill. It’s madness in action manga form, and I can’t get enough of what Kaku delivers!
On top of that, the visuals are outstanding! Many of the Ayashimon that are on display have a unique style to them. Sometimes they can be blends of Tim Burton and Junji Ito; other times they look like devils from Chainsaw Man. But the important thing about it all is just how terrifying they look, and do they make quite the nightmare fuel! (Note to self: do not go to soaplands in Kabukicho. The cute girls there might be tanuki, and not the adorable kind!)
Kabukicho may be only two blocks, but Maruo already sees how its influence is as powerful as a first-rate kingdom. But like Goku, he’s ready to keep on fighting. Ayashimon is setting itself up to be one powerhouse of a shonen manga, even if its length is only at three volumes. Here’s hoping it doesn’t have too much exposition towards the end; we don’t want our hero’s head to explode, after all!
Promotional consideration provided by Chantelle Sturt of VIZ Media.