Manga: The Great Yokai War: Guardians Vol. 1

Order

The Great Yokai War: Guardians Vol. 1


English Comic Title

The Great Yokai War: Guardians 1

Authors:

Yusuke Watanabe (English translation by Motoko Tamamuro and Jonathan Clements)

Pencils:
Inks:
Colors:
Language:
Release:
Publisher
:
Pages:

Sanami Suzuki
Sanami Suzuki
-
Japanese
2023
Titan Manga
164

Covers:

Sanami Suzuki

Comic

Review

By: Andrew Sudomerski

Before I begin, I wish to tell a humorous behind the scenes story; this review had been in the pipeline for a while. I had imported the original Japanese manga volumes with the intention to translate and post reviews of each of them to Toho Kingdom. Very fortunately, before the process could begin, I had come to learn about Titan Manga's English publications and held off doing it until I got my hands on the official English versions. I mention this because for me, this is my second time around experiencing the story, but with its fullest context in mind. And then I became too preoccupied with other priorities, and along comes Nick's review of the Japanese release, which served as the kick I needed to finally get this done.

All that said, the manga is based on the screenplay of The Great Yokai War: Guardians (2021) written by Yusuke Watanabe, featuring a host of changes. Nick's review covered a good deal of the plot synopsis, so if you want that check it out–since it's still the same story regardless. This is mostly a companion piece to Nick's Japanese review, with my own feelings on the adaptation.

And I have to say, this is a very strong start. Compared to the somewhat haphazard early pacing issues that the movie version doesn't properly set up, the manga is very much able to flesh out and more organically integrate its characters and plot threads that will make sense upon the story's completion. It takes its themes and ideas and really just expands on its premise significantly, as well as efficiently streamlining the story beats in such a way that it reads very well. A highlight of this is the fortune slip Kei gets; whereas the movie has Kei invited to a dare (with Dai for some reason?), the manga changes this to a mysterious shrine that Dai actively walks up to pray at. It feels significantly more organic in its presentation while also retaining the key elements for the story beat (Kei picks up the fortune slip, becomes red, and Dai picks it up after his brother discards it).

For being the first third of the entire story, this lone volume already feels iron-clad, that it's just a great read beginning to end. Strong characters, great art, and an all around pleasant reading experience, be it comparing it to the movie or as a standalone narrative. A very high recommendation thusfar.

If I had any issue with it, I feel like it comes down to how the text is formatted. Now the English version from Titan Manga is read in the right-to-left fashion of traditional manga, and that isn't my issue. Even if the translations themselves feel proper (I'm no Japanese linguist by any stretch of the imagination), there are more often than not large speech bubbles that contain text that feel small relative to the rest of the bubble. It doesn't feel like it fills in the space enough, and for caption boxes that are meant to be read vertically, it just fills in with two breaks that leaves most of the box pretty empty. The text size is okay, especially for smaller panels with even smaller speech bubbles, it reads fine. But I feel like the more spacious text bubbles could've used a larger font size to better fill in the gap. A very minor gripe all things considered, but something that itched in the back of my mind while reading it.

All things said, I'm beyond thrilled to have Titan Manga releasing the Great Yokai War: Guardians adaptation–one very much preferred over the movie it's based on. I can't recommend it enough!