Aoi Hana is a normal female high school student, though she is extremely clumsy and thus tagged as good-for-nothing. But Hana wants to change herself and decides that finding a part time job would be taking the first step in that direction. Being an animal lover, Hana's job of dreams is encountering animals day-to-day and taking care of them, and the zoo sounds like the perfect place for that. So when she happens to see a job offer from a local animal park, it's settled she'll attend a job interview.
When Hana arrives at the zoo everything seems just fine. The "Oumagadoki Zoo" might be going south but altogether it's your regular animal park. Just a very normal zoo, one might think. But that is only until Hana gets to meet the zoo director...
Volume 4: Oumagadoki Doubutsuen (pilot)
Volume 5: Boku no Hero (My Hero)
Taken from my first take post (with accompanying picture snaps) on http://sekijitsu.com/2011/01/26/first-take-oumagadoki-zoo/
While the name doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue, the manga itself is pretty unique. Previously known as Oumagadoki Doubutsuen and originally appearing in Jump as a oneshot, OZ follows a young female high school student, Aoi Hana, who stumbles on a part-time job in a local zoo. With her love for animals, it seems like the perfect match but little does she know that by night, the zoo inhabitants take on a different form altogether. Led by their egotistic and childish director Shiina, the animals acquire Aoi’s help to make the zoo the
most popular park in the world.
Shiina has his own motives for wanting to make the zoo popular, since 13 years ago he had been cursed by a rabbit ghost, resulting in him taking the form of a large rabbit. In order to break the curse, he needed to show love to animals, through the powers of his curse. Due to the curse, he has an excessive amount of magic, which he uses to turn members of the animal kingdom into humanized versions of themselves. With their help along with Aoi Hana, he hopes to achieve his goal and help break the curse in order to become human again.
OZ is one of the most creative and original manga I’ve read in while. As Jump is now infested with new manga in the stereotypical highschool setting, OZ manages to create it’s own world with something that many would not even consider: a zoo. Written and drawn by a young new mangaka, Kōhei Horikoshi, the story and art itself feels pretty well layered, especially given that it is the mangakas first serialized work.
While it may not be as captivating during the first few chapters to some, I personally found that the mangas art and unique setting was enough to help me follow through with the story. I have to say though, the manga ramps up in quality with the addition of new animals and new enemies not long into its serialization.
The second arc is where things really get interesting, as the manga begins to find it’s niche as a surprisingly captivating battle manga. Looking back at the first few chapters, this development was a surprise to me but the transition was executed so well that it was an absolute blast to follow the animals through their battles. With the amount of possible characters to choose from in the entire animal kingdom, the possibilities for future enemies and new characters are really endless, so I’m certain that it would not stale too early in it’s run.
It also helps that the designs of the humanized animals themselves are pretty creative. You can sense that the mangaka has taken some inspiration from some other animal based animes and movies, since I saw some resemblances with characters from series like Pokemon, Summer Wars and the like. Still, they each have their own brand of personality so they definitely feel one of a kind (a particular favourite of mine is the badass Orca, whose features have been modified to resemble a suit. Also, Shiina reminds me of Hiruma from Eyeshield 21, in that they are both conniving and share that evil huge grin. A huge win right there).
While this is a relatively new manga, it is starting to gain a certain following, especially from the western half of the world. Not being particularly popular yet in Japan, you can see a lot of people voice their concerns over the possible dropping of the manga given it’s consistently low ratings in the TOC rankings. I have a feeling that it will avoid the drop however, since the story and setting is too unique to have it dropped so soon, especially since it is beginning to develop more.
The editors of Jump themselves seem to agree as well, since OZ always manages to get a lot of coloured spreads and extra pages, a sign that it is given the benefit of the doubt from Jump, even though ratings haven’t been stellar. High sales of the tankobon volumes recently may soon influence it’s popularity, so I have faith that the ratings will steadily increase in due time.
Even though this is a first take on the manga, I found it good enough to warrant a recommendation to y’all. It’s relatively new, with only 18 translated chapters to this date, so it isn’t one of those monster mangas that will take ages to read. Released scanlations are pretty sporadic at the moment though, which is a bit of a bummer since it’s already behind the Jump releases by quite a bit. Still, it shouldn’t be long before more groups start picking up this series, since I have a feeling that it’s going to explode in 2011. Fingers crossed it manages to get that far, as I really have high hopes for this (vote Japan, vote!).
If you liked the review, you can find more of my work on my blog www.sekijitsu.com
...! I just realized that no one's ever written a review for this manga. :o unacceptable. SO! I'm going to point out some good / bad stuff, I guess?
BACKGROUND: before i go over to the technical aspects of this review, i thought i should introduce myself. obviously, i'm a fan of this manga since it's unlike anything that jump's produced (refreshing. original. awesome!) yet it still radiates that childish atmosphere. last spring, i read the one-shot on a popular manga reader that's since then closed down, and was blown away by the originality. i was incredibly happy once it got serialized in july, but also
nervous for its fate since most newbie manga like SWOT get axed pretty quickly. however, it proved popular, even though it's leading the bottom 5 according to the table of contents, so i can stop worrying about it.
STORY: okay, so this story is not your average battle manga nor school story. rather, it's a story about the animals of the zoo with magical elements added. what if animals could talk? in oumagadoki doubutsuen, they're personified as humans (anyone heard of this moe cockroach manga? no? okay, moving on). initially, this story is character-driven and started quite episodic, as both the director, cursed to look like a rabbit until the zoo becomes popular, and aoi hana, the newly hired zookeeper, search for new comrades. it is only several chapters later that the real plot (or at least the arc) starts kicking in and with an exciting new assortment of characters! reminds me of katekyo hitman reborn!, though that manga took 8 volumes of gag (still can't believe it survived for so long) before switching to battle-style.
ART: the first thing i noticed was just how incredibly stylistic the art was. the characters' expressions and designs are not... shounen-like or shoujo-like. for example, aoi hana's mouth is drawn in a particular way (rounded, lots of black, some teeth showing). it feels childish, but i believe that is perfect for shounen jump which is geared towards younger children anyway. the second thing i noticed was the incredible versatility of the page layouts, which definitely facilitates my enjoyment and keeps the manga at least interesting. they're not as ~artistic~ as bleach so as much as to distract from the story, which is a good thing.
CHARACTER: i have a feeling that shiina is going to be everyone's favorite protagonist as well as the new antagonist. not going to spoil the contents, obviously. anyway, if you've read the one-shot, there have definitely been some changes in character designs and their personalities. for example, the rabbit is more egotistic and the zookeeper is more clumsy. aoi hana's become more confident and passionate about animals, though it remains to be seen her interactions with other humans. other than that, i really like the diverse cast since it mostly consists of animals, each with his/her defining personality trait. the only bad thing i suppose is the lack of "normal" humans besides the girl in the beginning of the manga, if you're into them.
ENJOYMENT: really high. this is one of those manga that's made me wish there was more English-speaking fandom / fanart. ;_; i've downloaded the RAWs and consistently checked the manga reader / scanlation group for any updates. /no life haha. well, i have to admit that the story was a little slow in the beginning with all this recruiting stuff but this first arc made it all the more exciting (around chapter 10 or so). it drags out a bit though, 'cause of focus on individual fighting scenes, but at least the mangaka utilizes the environment instead of relying only on the characters' strengths/weaknesses.
OVERALL: this manga may not be for those people who prefer dark manga. oumagadoki is really light-hearted, with a decent plot so far. it's the characters that make oumagadoki doubutsuen so appealing to me, as well as the originality of the concept. just how often do you read manga about animals?
thank you for reading my review! written while i was supposed to be studying for my cumulative finals, oops. eue
With this being cancelled I have to retract my recommendation to read it. The rest of the review after this paragraph is unchanged. This manga was canceled. The scanlators finished working through the first arc of the series so you can see probably get a decent fix of the manga. It didn't have enough of a catch to addict you so it shouldn't be a major problem that the series was canned. I think the problem with the series was the characters as the characters other than the main protagonist were poorly developed. I personally didn't like their character
art, but that's subjective.
While I am definitely impressed with this manga you can still see it hasn't found its footing yet. Think back to the beginning of one piece compared to what its like right now. Don't get me wrong I am excited to read this manga and I definitely recommend you read it. Its friggen hilarious and the rabbit is awesome. What i'm saying is that the manga is still evolving and right now you can see that its an Triple A concept, but it doesn't have a story line to back it up yet.
Hana wants to reboot her image as a failure by doing what she's always wanted to do, which is work with animals. Little does she know that the owner is a cursed rabbit with the maturity of a 5 year old and equipped with super powers at that. Shiina is the owner of the zoo and he was cursed as a child to become a magical rabbit, and to break the curse, he has to make the worlds greatest zoo.
There isn't really much of a story so far. Shiina is cursed and is trying issue by issue to break the curse by throwing all the work onto Hana. We've had one serious enemy, but I don't see a continuation on that story line given the way it ended. This is where the manga needs work, I can't help but feel that the story needs something more.
I would gladly give the character element a 10/10 but quite frankly they haven't been developed enough. They are such a creative and fun idea that I definitely want to rate them highly, but theres not really much character development yet.
Theres not much of a backstory to any of the characters. If the mangaka worked a little bit harder on the characters background I can't help but think it would give direction to the story as well.
The characters themselves are rather fun. Or at least the rabbit makes up for all the rest of the characters. He's funny, compassionate, egotistical, and above all surprising. Because of his rabbit face, all of his emotions show up beautifully on his face in very creative manners which is probably his most lovable aspect.
C'mon, theres a reason humanoid rabbits are such a loved character in movies and tv. THEY ARE FRIGGEN AWESOME CHARACTERS!!! The art I couldn't be happier with. As long as they have up to date graphics I give them an 8, if they have well drawn characters then they get a 9, if they have some funny original concept added to them then they get a 10.
A result of the poor characters and story evolutions. Fix those and I will be happy to raise the score here.
Pick it up. I think even girls can enjoy this manga. Its not so much about action as it is about the concept. Anyone can appreciate a genius concept like this one.