Creator: Yoshinori Natsume
Publisher: Viz
Age Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Action
RRP: $7.99
Togari v2
Reviewed by Michael Aronson

Tobei, a ruthless punk from feudal Japan, has been damned to hell for the past 300 years. Given a chance for redemption, he’s sent to the present to vanquish sins that have taken the form of malevolent spirits called Toga. Armed with the sin-slaying sword Togari, Tobei is about to go medieval on the 21st century!”

I’m reasonably intrigued by Togari, and yet not enough so to erase the impression that the story’s formula simply rearranges the premise of every other pop manga series. We have an anachronistic protagonist (InuYasha) who’s rather impure at heart (Death Note) hunting spirits that no one else can see (Bleach). That all wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t feel like Tobie was simply going through the motions, chasing after his quest to extinguish 108 sins in 108 days while adjusting to the 21st century.

I have to admit, there’s a bit to like in Tobei. He’s brash and arrogant, only thinking of finishing his quest and redeeming his soul from hell. He gets a bloodlust in his eyes whenever opportunity presents itself, be it in defeating evil-doers or for his own selfish benefit. He’s one of those characters readers love to hate, and yet love interest Itsuki is sure to water him down and tame him as the series progresses.

Natsume’s art is alternately unique and frustrating. His choice to make the shape of Tobei’s eyes huge and angled with the pupils tiny makes him intense and wild, an approach to manga characters more typical for villains. Some of the action scenes clearly demonstrate Tobei’s viciousness, but others are especially vague, most notably the action taken to vanquish the sin monsters. Tobei finishes in a double-page spread pose which leaves me bewildered as to what sword stroke he actually executed to take out the monster. The cover art is certainly a different breed than usual, but conveys a horror tone that’s completely absent from the interiors.

There’s not much technically wrong with Togari, but it desperately needs to separate itself from the sea of shonen titles. I hope the story comes to involve more than simply reducing 108 sins to zero.

11 October 2007
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