Title: Time Killers
Author: Kazue Kato (Blue Exorcist)
Publisher: Viz Media (Shonen Jump Advanced)
Volume: One-shot (short story collection), $14.99
Vintage: 2011 by Shueisha, September 2014 by Viz Media
Genre: Supernatural, action, science fiction
Blue Exorcist fans, you’re in for a treat. Viz Media has just released a collection of short stories by creator Kazue Kato, and every one of them is a delight. Even the one she created when she was only nineteen-years-old. Each story is unique, and most are filled with fantastic creatures, while all are filled with interesting characters. Kato really has a gift for design, and even her early work is filled with detail and expression. If you’re not reading (or watching) Blue Exorcist, you really should be. Though there are certainly some cliché shonen elements, it’s far from your typical shonen series. If you’re not familiar with the series, there’s a pre-series one-shot in this collection that might help pique your interest. Otherwise, I challenge you to pick up this gorgeously made book, because I think everyone can find at least one little story in here to like. Viz Media really produced something lovely here, with thick shiny pages, and beautiful color pages, plus a stellar cover design.
The title, Time Killers, is an apt description of what’s inside – short stories designed to help you kill time. The lengths range from about 40 pages to a single page in one case, so each story is a quick read. It’s hard to pick a favorite, as I enjoyed all of them, even the more abstract and bizarre stories (there’s one where a very odd looking aquatic creature rescues a boy from drowning). Given that I already enjoy Blue Exorcist, it’s a give away that I liked the “Miyama-Uguisu Mansion Incident,” where a weak demon becomes a powerful exorcist to protect a human girl who once showed him kindness. Then there’s Kato’s first published work, “The Rabbit and Me,” a story of a young assassin who inadvertently befriends the naive, do-gooder son of a not so good doctor. The art style is quite a bit different from her current, more polished work, but it has a lot of charm and a good narrative. The rest of the stories involve anthropomorphic feudal era rabbits, aliens bent on Earth’s destruction (minus one hapless teenager they intend to preserve in a museum), an old cup that comes to life to grant its owner’s wishes, a five-year-old future superhero, a gangster turned good for the sake of his young daughter, and more. There’s humor, action, drama, sorrow, even a little teen romance. At the end of the book, Kato provides some quick notes on how she came up with each story, and her creation process early in her career. Do yourself a favor and pick this up, whether your a Kato fan, or just a manga fan. It’s worth it.
A review copy was provided by Viz Media.