By: Hiroya Oku
Translator: Stephen Paul
Release Date: August 25, 2015; (Original) January 1, 2014
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Sometimes we’re behind the curve. Sometimes we don’t read a certain manga or watch a certain anime when everyone else is talking about it. But sometimes we finally catch up and actually read the series we’ve been aiming to for years! Inuyashiki Vol. 1 by Hiroya Oku is a science fiction story set in the near future.
Inuyashikiis about Ichiro Inuyashiki, an older gentleman whose family doesn’t appreciate him and is dying of cancer. After an odd encounter in a nearby park, he wakes to find that his body has become robotic. His memories and thoughts remain the same, but everything else is mechanical. Somewhere else in the city the teenage boy named Hiro Shishigami finds the same. Both have to cope with their new bodies, what this means for them, and how they will move forward.
It is rather rare to find a manga about an older gentleman, so I was instantly intrigued by the nature of the main character alone. Inuyashiki is beginning to get along in years and is unappreciated and largely ignored by his family. This is a man who is alone despite being surrounded by family, and must face the prospect of his illness by himself. He is a rather pitiable character, one who is easy to connect to in a lot of ways, and someone I wanted to see succeed.
Inuyashiki changes through the volume. After an odd experience in a nearby park, he realizes that the majority of his body has been changed. Organs, muscles, bones, everything, has been replaced with robotic components. No knowing who he is or how do mentally or physically deal with these change, Inuyashiki sets out for answers.
This volume wasn’t a fast paced, but it didn’t feel slow, either. It is very much a close look at Inuyashiki, his life, his family or lack thereof, and his mental state. Is he human? What happened to him? He isn’t ill anymore, but what does that mean moving forward? There are a few more action oriented sections as well, perhaps a glimpse of what we can expect further into the manga.
There are many small moments in this manga that I really appreciated and felt true to life. For example, the mother asking her daughter to fix the television when all of the channels begin showing the same thing was great. More of these appear in the last chapter of the manga. Here we are introduced to the second main character, a teenage boy named Hiro who was caught up in the same incident as Inuyashiki. I enjoyed all of the references to various manga and the enthusiasm Hiro talked about them with.
The art in this manga is very clean, in a sense. There is very little stylization here. Everything looks rather realistic. Backgrounds are typically highly detailed, and the few pages that are colored look especially beautiful. However, character’s faces don’t show a great deal of emotion regardless of the situation they might be in. While this might fit in with the more realistic way the manga is drawn, I can’t help but wish there was a little more emotion in the art.
However, there was one section that was simply unbelievable. After an altercation in a park, several people are left wounded but alive. I rather liked the scene overall – the excitement, the fear of the characters, Inuyashiki trying to figure out how to use his robotic body – but there was one part that I just had to questions. Despite being hit by a rain of bullets, several characters leave largely unscathed, the logic of which I found questionable. However, that is only a small gripe for an otherwise very strong start to a series.
Inuyashiki Vol 1 by Hiroya Oku is a great beginning to a science fiction story set in a contemporary world. I’m very interested in seeing where the story will lead. There is no obvious overarching plot thus far, at least nothing past ‘trying to live normally when your entire body has been replaced by robotic counterparts’, and I’m interested to see what develops next. On to Volume 2 it will be!