Inuyashiki Volume 1 Review

Inuyashiki:

Volume 1

Reviewed by: Linny

Despite his smile, this book does NOT start happy at all.

Synopsis: Ichiro Inuyashiki doesn’t have the most enviable life. He looks much older than his 58 years and his family seem to loathe his existence and constantly complain about his inability to provide them the luxurious life they crave, refusing to acknowledge or appreciate that he he’s doing the best he can for their sake. As if his life wasn’t already hard enough, his doctor tells him he has stomach cancer and won’t live past three months. Unable to confide to his uncaring family, Ichiro takes a walk with his faithful companion, a Shiba Inu dog named Hanako when a mysterious blinding light renders him unconscious. Though he revives seemingly unscathed several hours later, Ichoro’s life will never be the same again.

Review (Warning: Spoilers to Follow):

Inuyashiki starts off somewhat sad and depressing but if you read the summary before you start the book, you should be somewhat prepared as Ichiro’s family constantly make snide remarks or insult him everytime they are in the scene with him. It’s still no walk in the park and most readers should find themselves immediately sympathizing for this poor timid and defeated man who has clearly had the spark for life beaten out of him. Even his young son is clearly embarassed of him, telling him outright that he doesn’t expect anything of his father.There might be some readers who feel that things get a bit too cruel to the point of coming off a bit heavy handed especially since the earlier chapters are mostly example after example of how sad Ichiro’s life is so if you are more sensitive to sad content, Inuyashiki won’t be an easy book to start.

Ouch!

As the summary blurb gives away a lot about the first volume, the important catalyst event occurs within the first chapter itself, moving the story quickly so readers aren’t made to wade through too much content before they reach the meat of the story. The event itself is wrapped in mystery for now, with just speech bubbles on the page giving away a vague conversation about Inuyahsiki’s body being completely destroyed and needing to be rebuild using weapons material. We also get a two page spread of what looks like a tiny machine building an android like body but that’s all we get for the actual event for now. Once Ichiro comes to his sense,the story then slows down quite a bit, taking its time to explore and demonstrate all the changes to Inuyashiki’s body without revealing too much at the same time. We have an entire chapter devoted to doctors being flabergasted as modern everyday medical instruments fail to register or read his vital statistics and needles fail to penetrate his skin. The chapter ends on an omnious note as Ichiro  comes to question himself and wonder just what is going on.

That’s a pretty big thing to forget.

The ensuing chapters deal with Ichiro struggling with his humanity and his reaction to his new life. His confusion and ensuing morality and humanity dilemmas are convincing and given how bad his life has been up to this point, you’ll be cheering for him to find a way to take advantage of what’s happened to him. In order to avoid too much spoilers, I’ll avoid discussing his actions in too much details but I will mention that it makes for a very inspiring read as we watch him do things he has always wanted to but never had the ability to do before. Seeing this man rediscover a passion for life feels cathartic after all the abuse he has had to endure up to this point. However, at the story continues, it also becomes clear that Inuyahsiki is determined to highlight the scum of humanity, making you witness just how cruel humans can get for the most shallow reasons.

Go go gadget gun.

The first big showdown in the story is an interesting one in  that Ichiro isn’t shown to be immediately amazing at combat and even wins the battle not because of his own skills but because of some automated response acting of its own will. For those who were hoping to see Ichiro turn into a butt kicking action hero, there’s no such thing as of yet. However, he does manage to emerge victorious ultimately and the bad guys get some very appropriate comeuppance for their transgressions and thus all ends well. This lack of Ichiro suddenly transforming into a skilled fighter makes the story feel realistic despite its rather out there premise and should win over readers who prefer realistic touches in their sci-fi stories.

Hey, he has a valid point about liking people for more than their looks.

For more observant readers, you might be left wondering about something from back when Ichiro’s fateful encounter all the way in Chapter 1. The book hasn’t forgotten about it and quickly readjusts to focus on it towards the final chapters of its volume so have no fear, your questions and concerns are most likely to be answered. The book also introduces a much younger character, and part of me thinks this is most likely to ensure that it appeals to a wider age range as some people might be put off by having such an elderly protagonist. However, since the summary blurb doesn’t make it evident from the start, I thought I should point this out for people who might have been on the fence about picking Inuyashiki up because of its focus on such an older looking hero. On the other hand, it does give the series a unique selling point as there are so very few stories out there that feature such an aged protagonist. In fact, our younger character and potential second lead almost felt like reader bait to me, in that he is revealed to be a huge manga fan to the point where he prefers 2D girls to bitchy real ones, maybe as a nod to readers that might immediately connect with that or for them to chuckle at that famous stereotype about anime fans being more interested in 2D than real life.

Thrashing a favourite manga? Someone’s looking to fight.

All in all, Inuyashiki does a great job of playing with its sci-fi elements while keeping a lot of realism and emotional drama in its first volume. Though it has apremise that sounds like it would entail a lot of combat and butt kicking, it builds up to it slowly so don’t expect any cool fight scenes in the first volume. There’s still a lot of mystery abound in this volume which isn’t surprising considering this is just the beginning and it does a good job of making that mystery intriguing rather than oppressive and frustrating. For those of you seeking an action tinged and somewhat dark story, Inuyashiki might be the book that satisfies that need. It balances drama, action and sci-fi into a story that promises heart and intrigue.

 

Inuyashiki is available digitally via Crunchyroll.com and is available for purchase via Amazon.com, Comixology and Rightstuf.com.

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