Okitenemuru Volume 1 Review
Reviewed by: Linny
Synopsis: Kanata is a highschooler with a special ability that lets him see things that are further away than the normal human eye can see but causes him to pass out if he exceeds its limits. When his school becomes the center of a mysterious incident that causes strange and violent mutations, Kanata finds himself caught right in the middle of it all. He is confronted by a team of people who claim that he is the key to solving this mysterious outbreak and suddenly Kanata finds himself paired off with a violent young woman named Shiki and forced to help this enigmatic team.
Review (Warning: Spoilers to Follow):
Okitenemuru is written by the author of the series King’s Game:Origins, a similar toned manga that is also available on Crunchyroll’s manga library and that I have reviewed in my Crunchycrawl lineup. So, if you have read that series or my review, you might already be able to form an opinion of what to expect from Okitenemuru. While there are some minor similarities, it is mainly limited to the genres of the story in that they’re both thriller/horror that involve humans behaving in strange and unusual manners and include a fair amount of violence and bloodshed. I’d like to clarify upfront that Okitenemuru isn’t for the super queasy though so far, it is probably one of the less graphic and gorey ones in its genre. It’s a nice balance where there’s enough to be mildly unsettling but not so much so to make you lose your last meal.
The vibe of Okintenemuru in general is somewhat mixed. It starts off immediately with the gorey and creepy parts of its tale, but then almost immediately dives into a more comedic and silly everyday like sequence as soon as it’s over. It almost feels like two completely different manga going from the bloody and violent page 14 to the more mundane and comedic pages 15 and 16. Earlier on, whenever the story is focused on Kanata and his friends, Toki and Shizuka, it almost feels like a slice of life story about high school kids. There’s plenty of playful chit chat and digs at each other. But that vibe all but disappears as the story proceeds and we get into the crux of it. This early disparity in tones feels a little confusing but might provide a nice change for anyone who dislikes stories that are constantly creepy and brooding.
When it comes to the characters, so far, Kanata our protagonist comes off as one of those leads who have a rather eccentric ability and initially seem only interested in using it to get out of their daily life problems, like passing a test with good grades and to win a bet with friends. He comes off average at first, as he isn’t bursting with heroism, seemingly more interested in preserving himself and his friends. However, there are heavy hints to his good guy nature and as the story proceeds, his moral compass just skews more and more into complete hero mode. His friends, Toki and Shizuku are decent supporting characters for now, injecting humour or drama as and when the story needs them to. As is the case with a lot of these thriller/horror stories, information about the characters is extremely limited and for now, being only in Volume 1, we are only aware of their more blatant quirks such as a older researcher, Dr Nozakura who has no qualms eaten in the presence of a disturbing corpse, or the reticent but deadly, Shiki who is featured on the volume cover and assigned to be Kanata’s bodyguard/partner.
When it comes to the story itself, Volume 1 is a great start to this story. There’s a ton of action and creepy mystery and incidents that will have you on the edge of your seat the entire time. You will be constantly trying to guess what is going to happen next and the author does a decent job of weaving the story around the reader for now. However, as someone who has read his other works to the end, and who read ahead a bit in this as well, I would like to caution newcomers to read on with limited expectations. Supernatural action thrillers and mysteries sometimes tend to fall prey to their own web of intrigue, ultimately offering up answers or twists that leave readers disappointed and show a lack of planning and logic. What little I have read ahead in volume 2 has me worrying I might suffer that fate as some of the new twists and developments seem somewhat random and even comedic..for example here’s a SPOILER FROM VOLUME 2, the villains make their escape through a theme park’s very plain looking water slide that then immediately explodes so nobody can follow them END OF SPOILER. Now, this is a matter of personal taste so what leaves me flabbergasted may still leave you enthralled but for readers who might be of the same mentality as me, let this be my tentative heads up.
Going back to the disparity in tone I mentioned earlier, there seems to be a general disconnect in the story at times as our laid back and goofy protagonist, Kanata and his friends seem to stick out from the rest of the cast and vibe like a sore thumb. It’s something that could potentially bother some readers who find the contrast between their sillier panels and the bloody action to be distracting. This contrast does seem to disappear as the volume continues so even if you find yourself a little annoyed by the minor comedic panels, you won’t have to bear with it for long. On the other hand, if you find yourself loving the comedy, I have some bad news for you, buddy.
If you are on the lookout for a story that offers plenty of action and a fair amount of unsettling images and a rather puzzling mystery at the heart of it, Okitenemuru is definitely worth a read. I cannot guarantee your ultimate satisfaction with the complete story but Volume 1 was a solid beginning. The first chapter is a bit disjointed but other than that, the author builds and twists the story in a manner that will have you eagerly reading every page but my greatest fear as with all thriller and horror tales is how the author will wrap up all the twists and mysteries he builds up as the story continues.
Okitenemuru is available digitally via Crunchyroll.com.