In a land where magicians cast spells on bullets in order to perform magic, like summoning powerful monsters. There was once a witch so powerful that she challenged the gods and was cursed for it.
10 years before the current time of the story, that witch challenged and defeated another magician, and in doing so saved a small boy, who instantly fell in love with her and was inspired to use guns as his "Sword of Justice". That boy was called Zero. When he was ready, he set out on a quest and found that woman who saved his life... or did he? She is not the same person that he idealized; she is selfish, rude, arrogant... and quite a bit shorter. But at the times when she feels Zero's love and self sacrifice for her, she can bring forth incredible power. So the two set out together to find a cure and the reason why the gods only bothered to curse her.
Before official serialization in Monthly Shounen Jump started (2003-07), the first three chapters were published in Monthly Shounen Jump Special Issue "Gokujou," (2000-2001) and the 5th chapter in "Jump Original" (2002). The 4th chapter, about Kurohime's past, was never published because it was deemed inappropriate to release at that point in the serialization and instead was remade and used later on. From chapter 48 (vol.15) onwards, serialization moved to Jump SQ's official website. The chapter count restarted from chapter 1 in the 2nd volume.
Mahou Tsukai Kurohime had fourteen volumes printed in English under the title Kurohime by VIZ Media from September 4, 2007 to November 4, 2009, before the series was dropped.
In 2006 a game was released for the Xbox 360 that surprised quite a few gamers with its uninspired game play, poor level design and terrible dialogue. After receiving largely negative reviews from both critics and gamers, Bullet Witch quickly sank into obscurity and poor sales have thankfully prevented a sequel from being made. What many people didn't realise was that the game took a great deal of inspiration for its main character from a manga by Katakura Masanori that began serialisation in Monthly Shounen Jump four years earlier.
So how does Mahou Tsukai Kurohime compare to a game that received widespread criticism?
The story begins with
Zero, a boy whose life was saved by the legendary magic cannon user Kurohime, a witch so powerful she challenged the gods ... and died in the process. Ten years later, Zero has taken on the role of bodyguard to a young girl called Himeko, and the pair are on a journey to find a way to remove the curse that has been placed on her.
On the surface Kurohime appears to be nothing more than a fairly generic shounen manga, and that's a fairly accurate perception for the first few chapters. The plot tends towards the generic, so much so that the series places an almost unnatural emphasis on comedy, and the story can sometimes seem to have little or no direction at all. The mangaka has tried to introduce far too many things at once, and because of that the manga needs a little time to find its feet. Once the reader gets to chapter eight though, the plot gains more momentum, and the series takes a much darker and more dramatic turn which culminates in a truly singular moment in shounen manga.
After that, things get a little ... confused.
The main problem with Kurohime is that after the conclusion to the first arc the mangaka has attempted to expand the storyline in order to accommodate events that are bigger in scale and far more grandiose in concept. Unfortunately it seems as though Masanori didn't know when to stop, and while the narrative does continue to make sense, the addition of things like time travel can makes actions and events more convoluted than they need to be. The resulting plethora of threads meandering through the storyline make it difficult to reach a natural conclusion with all of them, and some of minor plot arcs can feel as though they've been forced into the story so that it can move on to something new.
That said, it's fairly obvious that this was due to the time constraints all serialised manga tend to face rather than a lack of ideas.
While Kurohime is very clearly a shounen manga, there are occasions where the artwork wanders into shoujo territory, which isn't a bad thing to be honest as it does emphasise the more emotional moments rather nicely. The characters are often well drawn, and the scenery is kept simple and straightforward in order to highlight the variety of spells and abilities on offer, with emphasis placed on how they're used and who or what they're used on. There are, unfortunately, two major downsides to the artwork, the first one being the way the quality of the work drops quite sharply during comedy scenes. The second is the inclusion of ecchi in a series that really didn't need so much of it as there are already plenty of things to keep the reader interested. It's pretty obvious that the decision to outfit several of the female characters, especially the Shinigami Angels, in outfits that leave little to the imagination, is nothing more than an attempt to cover up some very shallow development.
It all sounds a bit counter-intuitive, doesn't it? I'll explain then.
In manga, as in food, the first bite is with the eye. If a particular meal looks good in a picture or on a plate, then the natural assumption is that the food will be just as good. The trick is that even if the meal is only average at best, as long as the presentation is close to that of the picture then the person eating it will "fill in the blanks". Manga, comics, cartoons and anime tend to follow the same principle, and it's often the case that characters who are nothing more than average will often be perceived as anything but, simply because of how they look and the actions they take. A similar methodology has been used in the fashion industry for decades, and for many people the display of an idealized form, especially a nubile one, is enough to stop them asking unwanted questions.
That doesn't automatically mean that the characters in Kurohime are terrible though, but given that this is a fantasy action shounen manga, many of the related issues attached to the genre raise their heads on a number of occasions. While there is a degree of growth amongst the people that Zero and Himeko meet, the series tries to walk the fine line between a character led plot and an event driven one, and this is ultimately what hampers the development of certain roles in the story. In addition to that, the usage of so much comedy early on in the series hides some average characterisation, especially where Himeko is concerned. Zero isn't actually a bad character at all, and because his thoughts and actions maintain a consistency that is lacking in many of the other roles, it leads one to wonder why everyone else is only so-so.
Even with all of that, Kurohime is still a pretty enjoyable story, with a bold plot that's refreshing to see in shounen manga, and that's taking into account Masanori's attempts to outdo the conclusion to the first arc. Okay, so there's a lot of genericism in the series, especially during the latter half, and the characters aren't as well realised or developed as the story could have made them. In the end, these are issues that can be ignored as while the storyline is sometimes convoluted, it's rarely tedious.
Kurohime may not be perfect, but it does deliver a good degree of action and excitement, and many of the problems it has might have been resolved if the series had been a little longer. In comparative terms, Kurohime is easily one of the better fantasy action manga out there, and while it may not be the best at what it does, at least it's not Bullet Witch.
This story starts off beautifully with characters and a way of fighting that one can truly fall in love with. It rises into a beautiful crescendo of love and self sacrifice and comes into one of the most heartbreaking scenes one can imagine. -_- Then it goes on for another 65 chapters and all the beautiful scenes and character development gets sh** on. It turns into such a pathetic piece of crap that it makes you wish you hadn't read it at all because the characters you cared for so much are (figuratively) trampled to death. Wanna enjoy this manga? Please for your own sake
stop reading at chapter 15. If you don't you'll regret it. Iv'e done all I can.
This is the first review I actually tried to write seriously, so please give me some tips on what I should do to make it better, as I know this review is far from perfect. Arigatou. ~
Kurohime was the first manga I ever read. (By the way, Rosario + Vampire was the first anime i've ever seen.) However, despite all the mangas I've read afterwards in my four years of . . . otakuness, for lack of a better word, Kurohime is still one of my favorites and I am just infuriated that it is not more popular.
So why should you bother to read
it? It is, afterall, 80 chapters long. Well, the answers simple- Kurohime has one of the best storylines ever, extremely good art considering it was released in 2002, the best characters in the history of character developments, and was easily enjoyable. Despite all the new animes and mangas that I believe are my job to read and watch, I'm about to begin rereading Kurohime for the 7th time. And just in case you forgot, Kurohime is EiGHTY CHAPTERS LONG. That's like finishing Bleach or one of the other "Big Shonen Three" and then deciding to read it again. You'd have to seriously like it, and Kurohime is easily likable.
The story is basically one of those typical plots with several chapters for one arc where a problem arises while the main character is travelling and they solve it. This itself is nothing worthy of praise. However, when you add in the fact that the aforementioned characters are a cursed witch and a male that is amazing at using guns, then it gets a little more interesting. Then toss in the fact that the witch is cursed because she tried to take on the gods and now she is sort of stuck in a preteen's body and can only go back to her original, kick ass body when she feels true love. . . which is exactly what the male, Zero, is for. Although this does sound a little intriguing, Kurohime doesn't sound worthy of a rating of 10/10 yet, right? Well, I'm not finished.
The characters are extremely unique. They're like a rare, naturally blue rose among a bunch of weeds. The witch I spoke of before (named Kurohime. Duh.) doesn't really fit into just one category. She's not really a tsundere- although she does appear mean, rude, and even cold at times, but can be nice (although hardly ever) too. Everything she does, you can see why she does it- and she also has one of the best character developements I've ever seen. You know why she challenged the gods and how, why she got cursed, how she is the way she is, why her enemies hate her, all of that stuff. The best part is that the author manages to find the perfect time to squeeze these flashbacks in so they aren't just random things popping up out of no where leaving you wondering what the hell did you just read. In addition, Zero, the guy accompanying her, has an equally amazing past. You'll find out how come he's so good with guns, why he bothered following someone as seemingly annoying as Kurohime and especially why he fell in love with her, where he got his sense of justice, and a bunch of stuff. However, the author knows exactly what things to leave out to keep the tension and make it mysterious but not like something done on a whim or to fit the standards. Speaking of mysterious, I love Kurohime's art. I loved the ways everything was drawn when it was a funny scene, because then whatever the hell the characters are doing just got hilarious'd ten times. That also goes for the more serious and dark moments. Again considering the fact that Kurohime was released in 2002, the art is seriously amazing. What's even better is that despite the art being perfectly fine at the beginning, it got even better as time went on. In addition, later on in the series, the manga starts to hit the more intense parts, and then the way Kurohime is told and drawn makes me feel like I've been dropped into a manga utopia, and this was like what every romance-related manga aimed to be. The one bad thing was this manga wasn't long enough for me. . . I wanted more. I mean, the manga was ended just fine, nothing wrong with it, but when you love something, you obviously want more, right? I was rereading this series a bunch of times for a reason, afterall. However, I don't think I could stand this manga being continued and me having to wait god-knows-how-long before the next chapter/volume was released either. . .
Anyway. Mahou Tsukai Kurohime is like a classic to me, sort of the way Cinderella, Nemo, and The Lion King are to most children and Call of Duty, Halo, Assassins Creed, and Black Ops are to most teenagers. This manga covers some popular genres, as far as i can tell- comedy,romance, fantasy, action/adventure, bits of horror and even josei. (Although to be honest, I don't really have a firm grip on the idea of josei manga/anime though. . . I just think of it as realistic stuff, and in a way, Kurohime is.)
I'm writing this while watching a TV series on Hulu so don't expect much.
Story: 10. Barring the ending the story was executed well and the plot moved smoothly from one climax to the next. Rei - Zero twist was confusing but interesting
Art: 7. Art was amazing save for one thing. What the fuck does Kurohime look like?! She fucking looks different EVERY CHAPTER. It's not that she doesn't look better (in the beginning she looks more like a 70's w**** compared to a badass sorcerer or whatever) but the inconsistency takes away from the story. Otherwise art would be a 10
Character: 10. Character was amazing.
I tend to look for a specific thing in romance manga. This "thing" is attraction to female lead, it sounds weird but in manga like Bakemonogatari male readers feel emotional attraction to Senjougahara, i'm not talking bout love or anything, but it's definitely noticeable. When I feel that I know shits gonna be good. Kurohime was like that. (Fuck the ending)
Enjoyment: Plot kept me on my toes, art was nice, character development was great. Enjoyment = 10
Overall: 9. Here's were I bitch about the ending. What the fuck?....fuck?.....whaaat? This shit almost ruined the manga for me. If their gonna have JUST 1 genderbender tranny shit I want to know in the tags. The only reason why this was dropped 1 point is because 8 does not do justice to the rest of the story. But please.....