Hell is a bureaucracy and business is running smoother than ever thanks to the demonic efficiency of Hoozuki, the chief deputy to Lord Enma, King of Hell. Whether it be offering counselling to Momotarou of Japanese folklore fame or receiving diplomatic missions from the Judeo-Christian hell; the man who runs the show from behind the Lord Enma's imposing shadows is ready to beat down to a bloody pulp any challenges coming his way, metaphorically of course...
As the poster boy for micromanagement and armed with negotiation skills worthy of Wall Street, days spent troubleshooting hell with the sadistic and level-headed Hoozuki are never dull. Full of familiar faces from popular Japanese legends and East Asian mythology working middle management positions, this referential and anachronistic dark comedy set in the underworld brings new meanings to the phrase employer liability. Just how hard can it be to manage employees from hell anyway?
Hoozuki is the Deputy Chief to the King of Hell and like most unfortunate secretaries; he does most of the organising and scheduling while also being responsible for unforeseen obstacles while his boss does very little indeed: the life of Hoozuki sounds daunting to say the least. However, unlike most people (because obviously he isn't most people: he's a demon), he doesn't get emotional or violently stressed out, he's just so chill that if you place a giant ice cube on top of his head, it would frost over. Anyways we follow the protagonist around Hell, watching him talk to subordinates and beat the crap
out of Momotaru.
Firstly, this is a gag Manga so you should expect a lot of tongue-in-cheek humour and (un)subtle name-dropping. It's supposed to be a light read, to cheer you up or whatever. I didn't think it was a light read, I thought of it as a random and incredibly superficial chapter-episode series that tried (at times) too hard to be funny. Maybe my light reads aren't titled as 'light-read gag Manga', maybe my light reads need actual plot line and some sort of consistency between chapters or maybe Hoozuki no Reitetsu is just not a very good LIGHT READ!!!
The story is filled with characters that are so STUPID, so utterly utterly STUPID that they just vex the reader to no end. It's just like your worst nightmare of being trapped in a room with drooling idiots had found its way onto paper. The main character had to survive in this literal and metaphoric Hell surrounded by these characters or other individuals that only had names and bodies. These names-and-bodies-only characters didn't even have a full square caption to speak: no, their dialogue is literally in the background (the font is in italics and its size is small). What development? THERE IS NO CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT!
The art was pretty good, except that I wasn't really into all the horned people (I mean Satanic much?) but considering that the main scene IS Hell, I sucked it up. I really liked the fact that all the characters had unique facial features (that they actually HAD facial features was a plus) and the fact that although the proportion was iffy, the illustrator had succeeded in creating a gothic element within the scenes. The illustrator also succeeded in portraying Hell as a place that is direly uncomfortable; the pointy rocks and biting cats and dogs pretty much suck.
However, all is not forgiven [even if I liked the art]. The author had such a good initial first chapter, where did it all go wrong? Why didn't the writer try to go for a plotline instead of just episodic gimmicky chapters? Why?!
**Audience: Calm down, Maz-Maz! Don't be so melodramatic.**
Now that I'm a little less hysteric, I'd like to say that no, I do not recommend this Manga for people expecting a consistent, logical plotline with depth and character development (it just wouldn't be your cup of tea). However, I'd encourage readers who like episodic Manga which have authors that don't expect any tenuous brain activity what so ever from the readers to read this Manga: I hope you enjoy it.
Hoozuki no Reitetsu follows Hoozuki, the second in command of Japan Hell. Characters and settings are all heavily influenced and taken from old Buddhist, Taoism, Chinese, Shinto, Japanese and what-have-you legends. If you are not familiar with them, be very prepared to have a terrible time. Otherwise, this manga is a genuinely enjoyable one. Through Eguchi Nastumi's own interpretation, she brings a comical twist to legendary folklore characters such as Momotaro, Hakutaku (BaiZe) and even Satan.
I would personally very much like to emphasize on the fact that your enjoyment of this series will be heavily downplayed if you do not even slightly comprehend Asian folklore
and cultural. Not just Japan, but China and a little of India too. The fact that this comic takes place in Japanese Hell should be a good enough indicator.
This manga is written in a gag style sequence similar to Gintama, if only less plot and less emphasis on arcs. The art itself is heavily influenced by old Japanese art, due to the Eguchi Natsumi having studied Japanese art in her University. In other words, if you come into here expecting the usual flare of Anime/Manga art of 201X era, then you would be disappointed.
As the focus is towards more to the gag nature, little actual fleshed out story and character development are present. That is not to say it has none; Hoozuki does eventually make more acquaintances and have more sadistic comical adventure as the series goes on. So everyone has different interpretation of their character development. Your millage may vary!
I would recommend this manga to anyone who found Saint Young Men or games like Devil Summoner interesting. If you are of an Asian descent or are interested in Asia Cultural and Mytho, give this series a spin.
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