"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.
Upon a recommendation from a friend whom I admire for her impeccable taste in character-driven manga, I started reading Sengoku Youko. And wow, it is quite amazing. I was hooked into this manga via a spoiler, which makes Naruto look so small in comparison and I cannot mention. You will see if you keep reading; all I can say is that Sengoku Youko utilizes a very rarely used narrative technique to move the plot along.
Initially, I thought that the manga depicted several shounen elements, even though the human protagonist, Jinka, wasn't necessarily the most hotheaded hero. Heck, he even hates humans! And yet, he is partnered with a female youko or demon named Tama who loves humans, so he is coerced (and sometimes out of his free will) into saving them as part of the "savior siblings." Sometime on their journey, a couple of other people join them, which reminds me of Avatar: the Last Airbender in some ways.
My absolute favorite part of this manga is the strong variety of both humans and demons alike. In most of the manga involving demons that I've read, demons are portrayed as either monstrous or innocent -- there are no in-betweens. And yet, Sengoku Youko manages to provide us with CUTE, adorable demons (think of the villagers from Animal Crossing), and at the same time describe very intimidating demons who are both good and bad. I also appreciated how this manga toyed with the question of duality: Are we humans? Or are we demons? It is not necessarily dark or dramatic, but it can be at times when the story necessitates it.
As mentioned above, Sengoku Youko is wonderfully driven by characters, whose choices they make impact the outcomes that continue to resonate with the remaining characters and what ultimately happens in the end. Because of their choices, the story makes use of a rare narrative technique to further surprise the readers and push the manga to new dimensions. Just because the Final Goal of one character may have been accomplished does not mean that the manga is completely over; in fact, it is this completion of the goal that creates a new Final Goal.
Much like Mushishi, Sengoku Youko is primarily a journey with no conclusive arcs -- no battling, training, or battling. Technically, there is at least one training session, but they are not tedious to read about at all! I enjoy the creatures that the group meets and their little stories, and I also enjoy the seemingly flawless integration of the plot with the episodic adventures at the beginning. All of the characters have a personality that later grows, recedes, and develops as the series continues, which is truly phenomenal.
Ah, the art? I have not mentioned that, but suffice it to say that the art of all characters evolves to reflect their growth and the passing of time, which allows them to escape the Same Face Syndrome that occasionally plagues manga and anime. Overall, I must highly recommend Sengoku Youko based on current chapters, the overarching storyline, and variety of characters with their unique motivations. After all, there is an eight-year-old boy with a thousand demons.read more
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 :) read more
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. read more