When Okikurumi, the sacred spirit, is stolen from Atsuma’s village, Atsuma travels to Eden in hope of returning it to its rightful home. Eden, the part of Tokyo that is left after two giant earthquakes cause much of Japan to sink into the ocean, also serves as the headquarters of NOA, an organization whose members use special powers to fight the giant monsters that appeared after the second earthquake. After helping her to defeat one of these monsters, Atsuma is invited by Sumire, one of the three leaders of NOA, to join the organization. Sensing the presence of Okikurumi somewhere within the facility, Atsuma agrees. While Atsuma uses the technology now at his disposal to try to track down the sacred spirit, the other two leaders, Shiki and Hyde, try to discover just who Atsuma is and how he might be of use to them.
The action in Kamui begins immediately with the arrival of a giant monster in what is clearly a ruined city. Major characters are introduced quickly as the danger to the city progresses. Fortunately, there is a character list at the beginning of the chapter, making each character easy to identify, despite the flowing capes and wispy hair each seems to possess. Shiki’s unemotional dominance over the other NOA members, Hyde’s overt brutality, and Sumire’s seemingly endless case of ennui make the NOA leaders unsympathetic and difficult to identify with. And while Atsuma’s quest seems worthwhile, so little is revealed about his village, his powers, or the strange voice that seems to talk to him through what appears to be a tattoo on his neck, the reader has little chance to care about him or his search before the volume is over. The artwork also takes some getting use to, as the giant heads, elongated necks and emaciated bodies distract from the story. These extremes become less noticeable with each chapter and by the end of the volume the parts of the body are almost in proportion to each other.
Even though Atsuma hints at the eminent destruction of the world, without characters worth caring about, this hook is not enough to pull the reader into volume two. While die hard fans of shonen action adventures will undoubtedly find something to enjoy in Kamui and girls who like their boys skinny and androgynous with a hint of BL will enjoy looking at the pictures, ultimately Kamui is disappointing. Although rated 13+, there is some sexual innuendo that will not go unnoticed by younger teens.
Kamui, vol. 1
By Singo Nanami
Broccoli Books, 2005