Johnny Bullet
takeru: Opera Susanoh Sword of the Devil Volume 1
By Leroy Douresseaux

June 23, 2009 - 15:21

Publisher(s): Tokyopop
Writer(s): Kazuki Nakashima, Karakarakemuri, Stephen Paul, Tim Beedle
Penciller(s): Karakarakemuri
Inker(s): Karakarakemuri
Letterer(s): Star Print Brokers
ISBN: 978-1-4278-1570-5
$10.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £7.99 UK, 190pp, B&W, paperback

takeru Opera Susanoh Sword of the Devil Volume 1 cover image is courtesy Anime Castle Books.

Action/Fantasy; Rated “T” for “Teen-Age 13+”

Izumo-No-Takeru is a laid back thief looking for a legendary sword.  Kumaso-No-Takeru is a muscle-bound warrior/migrant laborer.  Oguna-No-Takeru is a mysterious, intense, assassin/mercenary type and man of few words.

In Takeru: Opera Susanoh Sword of the Devil, Vol. 1, three strangers named “Takeru” become unlikely companions.  They begin an epic quest across the string of far east islands called Oyashima, in a search for the legendary Sword of Susanoh.  The trio is caught between two warring factions: the Kingdom of Amamikado, which seeks to control Oyashima, and Jagara, a northeast kingdom of warrior women who resists Amamikado.  Each Takeru has his own motives for seeking the sword, but together, the trio may be the prophetic heroes of a besieged kingdom.

THE LOWDOWN:  Practically the only two things that make Takeru stand out from other epic quest fantasies are that the heroes share the same name, “Takeru,” and that it’s a comic book.  The Takerus are interesting characters, especially the sly Izumo and the cagey Oguna.  This series is actually an adaptation of a stage play written by Kazuki Nakashima (who also writes for anime) and performed by the theatre troupe, Shinkansen.

By far the best thing about Takeru is the richly, detailed art of Karakarakemuri.  The art for the costumes, sets, backgrounds, and environments are reminiscent of Barry Windsor-Smith’s art on Marvel Comics’ Conan the Barbarian series in the early 1970’s, especially the latter half of Smith’s run, as he moved away from copying Jack Kirby and developed his own style.  Karakarakemuri often muddles the action, fight, and battle scenes, so it’s sometimes hard to figure out what’s happening in many of those panels.  He has issues with composition, but his art is pretty to look at and makes this series stand out.  In fact, the art is so pretty, it makes Takeru worth following.

POSSIBLE AUDIENCE:  Reader looking for quest fantasy with lots of fight scenes and appealing art will enjoy Takeru: Opera Susanoh Sword of the Devil.



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