Author: Dall-Young Lim
Manhwa-ga: Sung-Woo Park
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Released: October 2007
Synopsis: “Keita Ibuki decides to satisfy a craving for ramen but instead of slurping soup, he gives up his meal to a cute girl. Unknown to Keita, the girl is a superhuman being known as a mototsumitama who’s being hunted by others of her kind. When a battle ensues, Keita gets caught in the crossfire and loses his arm. The next time he opens his eyes, he’s back in his apartment – arm intact. But just whose arm is it?!”
While taking a break from his money-mooching, booze-drinking and game-designing of the night, Keita Ibuki sat down to enjoy a nice bowl of ramen noodles. After a strange young girl mourns the lose of the last bowl, Keita lets her have his. But when a strange man shows up to attack the girl, Keita tries to lend a hand (or a stool in this case) only to find himself the odd-man out in this inhuman fight. Caught between them, Keita loses his arm. Fast forward to the next day and he’s safe in his bed, and both arms are intact, but now he’s got a strange little girl chowing-down on the contents of his fridge.
After enjoying volume three of Black God, it was only natural that I head back to the beginning to catch up on what I missed. Much to my luck, I found this volume one seated comfortably on a shelf at my local Chapters, now that Yen Press books have become a regular addition to the wall-to-wall manga ranks.
This first volume is a start-up to the series and thus works as a quick crash course of the characters and the world, to get readers ready for an actual linear plot that’s to come. We’re introduced to the idea of doppleliners, a rule that states there are three people in the world who share your exact face and coming in contact with one insures certain death. After meeting Kuro, Keita learns that his mother met this horrendous fate, a fate that’s bound to be explained in more detail later (playing an obvious large role on Keita). There’s also the character Akane, childhood friend of Keita and walking-bank machine for him, who is clearly going to play a strong participant role of the story during a last chapter page revelation.
A really enjoyable short story at the end gives readers a look at Kuro before she met Keita, exposing where she learned her fighting style (boxing) and showing off her kind-hearted innocence. It was a fun story and I liked the extra bulk it gave Kuro’s character. She’s a very charming little girl!
Sung-Woo Park has some fantastic artwork here but I do have a few little quips. While the dark setting, really solid drawings and great action sequences make this an awesome visual read, there were also some parts that subtracted a tiny bit from my love for it.
First of all, when Keita receives Kuro’s arm, I for one wouldn’t have been able to tell save for a fix-all piece of dialogue. Wouldn’t the arm of a little arm look different from a teenage guys’ (at least enough the guy can tell its not his?)? I’m not saying I want a lopsided main character or a little girl with an arm that’s too big, but if we have to assume some sort of magic must’ve made their arms look exactly alike, maybe the dialogue should’ve thrown that in too instead of making is a tad confusing graphics-wise. Also, I had to unlearn what I thought was Akane’s age when reading this volume. She’s only 21 but from the way she’s drawn, I thought late-twenties, young-thirties easily when I first read volume three. This age difference really changes her in relation to Keita. Could it be I’ve just gotten so used to girls who look way too young for their age in manga instead of vice versa?
Though admittedly the con words took up a lot more space than the pros in relevance to the art style, that’s my wordiness, not the art. It’s a very nice style and works well with the story; definitely one of the book’s strong points. I’ve also got no qualms at all with Yen Press’s work which included nice translation work, no big gutter issues and nice full-colour pages kept pretty and intact, so there’s nothing to distract from enjoying the book. Bonus includes a short artist-commentary comic at the back that was really cute and funny.
Overall, Black God volume one is a pretty strong start to a series I can at least say with confidence remains entertaining up to the third volume (and has maintained my interest to keep reading past that as well). With a pleasing and dynamic art style and interesting plot-potential, this is a first volume worth checking out.