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Itsuwaribito Vol. #05 Manga Review

4 min read

Part mind-games, part J-Horror, all Utsuho can handle and more!

Creative Staff
Story & Art: Yuuki Iinuma
Translation/Adaptation: John Werry

What They Say
Utsuho’s truthfulness as a child resulted in an enormous catastrophe, and he decided to lie from that day forward. Raised in a village of orphans by a monk, Utsuho is an unrepentant troublemaker. The monk eventually inspires him to help people, but there’s no way Utsuho’s going to lead an honest life! Instead, he’s going to use his talents for mischief and deception for good!

Utsuho and his cohorts stop in a village to replenish their supply of explosives and run into Tenka, a friend of Utsuho’s from the orphan village. It’s a happy reunion-until they all become embroiled in fiery violence…

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Sometimes this series surprises me with the way it walks the line of life-lessons and gruesome violence, like people having their heads blown off with old school Japanese M-80s. Then again, Itsuwaribito is rated for Older Teens, so it seems to have a fitting age rating.

Nevertheless, Tenka is in deep crap now that the three fireworks killers have attacked his house. The killer’s identities are no longer a mystery, and neither are their motives. After seeing their fireworks business fail, three brothers were maimed in a fire that destroyed their home. They are convinced it was a competitor that burnt down their home, so they have been killing fireworks makers in Tenka’s village as retribution. So for the first time, Utsuho and his bombs have to face off against fellow bomb makers. And these are some bad dudes with some impressive weapons. Utsuho is definitely outclassed in weaponry, but can his wits and lies overcome his enemies while everyone keeps all their limbs intact?

Later in this volume, Utsuho and the others find themselves searching the truth behind an old legend. Normally, a legend is believed to be a story told to impart a lesson or just entertain, but the legend of the Kokonotsu seems to have some truths behind it. On top of that, the legend tells of Nine Treasures from God, three of which would grant the wishes of Utsuho, Koshiro, and Neya.

It takes some research, but the companions eventually hear of a village that might be able to point the direction to the treasures of the Kokonotsu. But upon arriving at the village, they find it abandoned. Well, abandoned by people, but very much inhabited by life-sized killer dolls! None of this makes any sense until Utsuho and the others are rescued by a swordsman who tells them of the village’s downfall. It seems the Lord of the village was obsessed with making dolls and wanted to make them as real as possible; quite the god complex. After dissecting the dead and even injuring some if his own children in his quest, he left the village in search of the Kokonotsu. The Lord eventually returned with the ability to animate dolls with no strings attached. Not only that, but the dolls are smart, learn from their mistakes, and seem to have a limitless amount of power. So it seems the Lord may have actually found the treasures of the Kokonotsu. The swordsman turns out to be in love with the Lord’s daughter, who has been under a sleeping spell for the last six years.

The swordsman has failed to rescue his love for six years, but now that Utsuho’s curiosity is peaked, can they defeat the dolls as a team? Well, actually, Utsuho just wants to see if the Kokonotsu is real or legend. And why do I feel like the swordsman is actually a woman? And how in the world can dolls move on their own and even learn from past mistakes?

In Summary
This series both continues to surprise and entertain me. Itsuwaribito could easily devolve into another shonen beat ‘em up series with very little thought put behind it, but it doesn’t. This series is also not overly preachy, especially when the main character’s greatest strength is his ability to tell a believable lie. While this volume doesn’t wow me with any character development, it is very entertaining with the battles between the group and the evil bomb makers and the eventual quest for the legendary treasures of the Kokonotsu. Maybe a little James Bond mixed with some Indian Jones; definitely shaken (blown up is more like it) and not stirred.

I look forward to seeing if they can save the Sleeping Beauty the swordsman seeks in the next volume. That, and finding out how that creepy Noronji cursing doll is kicking Utsuho’s butt!

Content Grade: B
Art Grade: C
Packaging Grade: A-
Text/Translation Grade: A-

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Viz Media
Release Date: April 10th, 2012
MSRP: $9.99