"Stop your evil deeds and take the right path!" That is the creed of Youko Tama and her younger step brother, Jinka Sendou. The two demon siblings travel the country to stop the deeds of all evil doers, along with a scaredy cat swordsman they picked up along the way, Hyoudou Shinsuke. Their travels lie with many twists and turns, as well as wacky characters they'll meet along the way.
Mizukami Satoshi seems to specialize in taking the exact opposite approach compared to a lot of other action story writers. A person focusing on the action would have a betrayal occur to create a reason for one character to fight. Satoshi writes an entire action setting to give a reason for a few characters to have a warm reunion.
Although I believe that Spirit Circle is a work that can be considered one of the most perfect works out there, Sengoku Youko manages to position itself as one of the most satisfying adventure stories out there. In terms of theme and characterization, Sengoku Youko is rawer
and more loose around the edges, and, if you break it down to its core, it’s action scenes are less about strategy and more about winning through Shounen spirit – but all that is overturned by its sense of scale and adventurous scope.
Sengoku Youko’s story is a story that is split between two protagonists, and involves Gods and beings vaster than anything on the Earth, but it’s mainly about how fun it is to travel with friends that you care about. Separations are only prefaces to future reunions, no matter how heart-breaking they may be. And even if those separations are permanent – memories exist. It has a lot less of the philosophical focus that Spirit Circle can pull off in a mere 40 chapters, but I think writing such a work is important since it allows a writer to stake out a different repertoire. Given that he was writing both works at the same time, it could be that channelling his spirit into this one allowed him to take a more focused approach with the other – but that’s just speculation.
With a laudatory discussion like this though, there has to be a talk about ‘limits’. With Biscuit Hammer, Sengoku Youko, and Spirit Circle, Satoshi has already expended many of the pathways that he’s familiar with. He can no longer tread on familiar ground anymore – that ground being the raw youthfulness and sense of growth that exists in those works. These are the points that will either make or break writers – and I’m really interested to see the continuation.
When I began Sengoku Youko, I had no idea it would affect me as much as it did. I thought I was starting a fun shounen action series, enjoyable and good to pass the time. It isn't that the summary isn't accurate, because it is ... for about the first ten chapters. This manga develops into something so deep and moving you never see it coming until you're already in the heart of it.
At its core this is a story about people. Humans, demons; the line between them is blurred as we learn that what defines us can never be categorized as simply as
that. The characters meet and mesh and become inseparable, even when physical distance keeps them apart. Their lives and very selves are touched and changed with every meeting as we are reminded that who we meet is so much a part of who we are.
Shinsuke, the "scaredy cat swordsman" mentioned in the manga's brief summary, undergoes perhaps the most organic and immense character growth of anyone in any work I have read. The other characters evolve as well, as times passes, and while in some works a change in characterization can feel like a plot device - heavy handed and deliberate - these characters exhibit life of their own. They are not changing at the author's whims. They are reacting to the situations that arise, the people they meet, the passing of time, and becoming more than they were.
I will admit the pacing is a bit difficult in this, especially as it shifts protagonists part way through. It is unconventional, and may throw some readers. Don't look at this as a betrayal by the author; there is a point to this, and if you stick it through to the end you will witness something beautiful. Let the story take you down an alternate path, parallel and deeply bound to the one you thought you were going down. Don't forget the fondness you hold for the original cast, but allow yourself to experience the new characters the author is entrusting to you as the reader.
This is a story of people. Of meetings, separations, reunions, losses and parting and never forgetting the people that led you down the path that made you who you are. Let the characters tell their story, and let it remind you of the people in your own life who led you to where you are. Keep their warmth in you and let it fuel you to keep going.
Dont get me wrong. This manga is by no means bad, it is in fact very well-made. But I need to admit that I was greatly disappointed by, in my opinion, how much the author fucked up what could be a much better story.
Alert: This is may be a bit spoiler-y, but I needed to vent my opinion on this manga.
The first part was my favourite. It rounded up well and the characters were developing. I specially loved her who was supposed to be one of the four protagonists, if not the main one: Tama. I thought she, a cunning fox demon in the body
of a little girl, was the most interesting out of the four protags. Apparently the author was interested in developing her and Jinka as the main characters, judging by how the first part ended. But I think somewhere in the middle of the story, after the part one, the author started worrying about what would his readers think of his work. As this manga is Shounen, in Japan its majority of readers are supposed to be guys. In my vision, the author began searching for a boy character to turn into a (relatable?) main character; he maybe thought Tama wasn't a good enough protagonist for a story facing the male audience, as there wasn't even fanservice from her part (for fuck's sake, she looked like a freaking child).
The story could have turned up very similarly if the author chose any other random male character to turn into the protagonist. Seriously, in the first part, Senya was an extremely minor character. I liked to see him grow in the second part; but I thought his arc would last until like, the part where he and Tsukiko showed all grown up in front of Tama. From there on, the author could have focused again in her, and seriously, could have given her some fighting abilities at last. She didn't have a single real battle scene. Tama and Shinsuke turned into minor characters and I hadn't even noticed, as I was anxiously waiting for the author to focus on them again. Jinka and Shaku had vanished (though I understand the author needed to do that *for the plot*).
The ending was so incredibly frustrating that, though I cried at Shaku's return and the reunion of Tama and Jinka, I skipped through all the tiring and unnecessarily long battle scenes that only served, in my opinion obviously, to emphazise overpowered, minor characters before and now main characters. I was specially frustrated since I had been postponing this reading for a long time, and really looked foward to Tama and Jinka's development.
The artwork was extremely good and clearly evolved through the series, and the battle scenes, though a bit tiring for me to read, were well-drawn. The character designs were unique and recognizable, and the world was quite well-developed. For these reasons, it was extremely frustrating to see what could have been one of my favorite manga, be turned into a simply "good shounen" like many other good shounen out there.
TL;DR, without spoilers: If you're reading for Tama, Jinka, Shinsuke, Shaku, don't expect much. If you're just looking for a good shounen manga, maybe to pass the time, try this one out, I guess.
This manga is gold in my eyes. This manga has been out for so long but only 1 review? Come on guys! This manga might seem a bit plain for some people but I honestly think it's one of the best "friendship wins over everything" manga. The story actually surprised me with the main character changing all of a sudden. The character development is actually great as it shows them aging from a young brat into a great adult and it's great to see the characters powering up. Better than Dragon Ball Z,to be honest lmao. Honestly,this is one of the better mangas I've read.
Would recommend to everyone :)