Jiro Azuma is descended from a long line of ninja. He can also talk to animals, and his rough and tumble appearance belies his compassionate nature. He meets Rago, a mysterious, unique, and suspicious, stray black cat. Jiro's compassion for animals will get him into trouble, when his encounter with Rago rudely introduces him to the world of the mononoke and changes his life forever.
As Black Torch, Vol. 2 (Chapter 4 to 7) opens, Jiro still isn't sure that he should join the Bureau of Espionage, a governmental group of ninja operatives that monitors and eliminates mononoke. Ryosuke Shiba, the chief of the Bureau's Special Operations Division 2, believes that with them, Jiro is right where he belongs. There is another rookie joining the division, however; he is 17-year-old Reiji Kirihara, and he instantly takes a disliking to Jiro.
THE LOWDOWN: The Black Torch manga is tailor-made for me, although I was not quite sure at first. This mixture of ninja and supernatural creatures from Japanese myth, folklore, and fairy tales turns out to be my cup of fairy tea.
Black Torch Graphic Novel Volume 2 does not reveal as much about Jiro as it does about some of the supporting characters. That turns out to be a good thing. Reiji Kirishara and female agent, Ichika Kishimojin, have some major family baggage and legacy burdens that are sure to yield some awesome story lines. Plus, creator Tsuyoshi Takaki teases some parental mystery surrounding Jiro.
As with the first volume, the battles are nice, and some of the creatures are chilling to behold, even straight scary. So, I still highly recommend Black Torch to fans of supernatural ninja fiction.
POSSIBLE AUDIENCE: Fans of ninja and of supernatural Japanese creatures will want to read by the light of the Shonen Jump title, Black Torch.