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By Jeremy Whitley
May 18, 2013 - 14:07

Akaneiro is a strange and beautiful mixture of original concept and adaptation.  Part Little Red Riding Hood, part anime, part Japanese folklore - Akaneiro has something for everybody.

Written by Justin Aclin and based on the American McGee video game, it's difficult to explain the book without giving a synopsis of the entire first issue.  The first issue engages in a lot of world building while setting up the premise for the series.  We are introduced to two tribes that share an island, the Akane and the Ainu.  The island has the distinction of being a crossing point for demons trying to invade our world.  Both tribes seek to maintain balance in different ways, the Akane through slaying demons and the Ainu through praying to the gods.  We are told all of this by our narrator and the story's protagonist, Kani.

Kani is a girl from the Ainu tribe whose mother died at the hands of the demons.  She doesn't believe in her people's methods and longs to be one of the hunters.  When a conflict rises between the two groups, she seeks to become a hunter and a bridge between the two tribes.  To do so, she must don a red cloak and find her own way through the wilderness to the camp of the Akane.  And so, our story begins.  Well, the first issue is nearly over by this point, but you get the idea.

The story is solidly written though a bit hard to get the hang of at first.  There is a lot of vocabulary to keep track of between the two tribes, their words for the demons, all of the characters that are introduced, and a number of other ideas that are referenced within.  The hardest part of reading the first issue is just getting your footing on what is what.  However, once you're over that hurdle there is a lot of promise on the other side.  The story so far has a fair amount of intrigue and some strong influences from both American and Japanese folklore.  I have good feelings about where we're headed, though if I'm honest, I would have rather had a bit more movement and a bit less setup in the first issue.  But there's a lot to build here and I can appreciate the need to do so.


The art is wonderful throughout.  Vasilis Lolos has a very detailed and deeply inky style.  The characters are heavily stylized and have a distinct anime influence without dipping too far into the Anime world overall.  Characters eyes are huge and expressive and clothes are lovingly rendered with great detail.  If the art has any weaknesses they're in the sequential storytelling elements.  Some transitions between panels are difficult to follow.  This issue is further confounded by a frequent lack of backgrounds, which often make it hard to place where sequences fit in the space we've been given in earlier panels.

The real standout of the first issue is the creature designs.  This is, after all, a book about slaying beasts that have been corrupted and mutated by demons.  What good is any of it if the demons aren't interesting.  And the demons are phenomenal.  From boars to bears to bunnies, every time evil comes calling I'm excited to be reading this book.

One more word about art.  While I love the interiors of this book, I can't stop checking out the cover.  I did some digging and found the cover artist, Shu Yan, is actually the concept artist for the game on which the comic is based.  And, oh boy, his stuff is really awesome.  Check out his Deviant Art page here:  You'll be glad you did.

So, as with many first issues, some amount of judgement needs to be reserved for the future.  However, after needing to hang in there for some of the world building early on, I found that this book offers some real promise for the future issues.  If the game is anywhere near as cool and stylish as the comic, you may find me on the servers of Spicy Horse soon!

Rating: 7.5 /10

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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