Friday, February 19, 2016

Tomodachi X Monster: Volume 1

Narimiya Wataru is a friendless sixth grader who one day finds a strange silent blob-like creature he names Peke. Wataru is quickly drawn into an underground world in which other children fight to the death with other creatures like the one Wataru has found. Tomodachi X Monster by Yoshhiko Inui (his art style is comparable to Hitoshi Iwaaki), is a sadistic exercise in the loss of innocence and the cruelty of the young only brought to a more splatter-laden and sickening realism with loving detail lavished on the bisected body parts and gushing innards of the murdered youngsters along with elements of body horror. While Seven Seas tried to market this as a black comedy parody of Pokemon there is little comedic about it Wataru is mostly slowly stripped of his illusions while tempted with the ability to give into his darkest impulses in a kill or be killed world. What little else is known involves a shadowy organization called Carnival that has yet to be explained and the few antagonists are one-dimensional power mad sadists. Content to pontificate about how powerful they are while Wataru as an audience surrogate has the powers, backstory of characters and world building explained to him in transparent exposition that feels clunky. A series not for the squeamish and given the amounts of gore a 16+ rating seems a little on the young side. Still as an exercise in the pornography of violence, it is a worthy addition to the stable of torture porn manga such as Hellsing or Dead Man Wonderland. Later volumes may expand on the world or motivations of the Carnival organization but as this is only three volumes I don't expect much depth so if anything this could be a good piece of bloody sequential sadism comparable to Shigurui: Death Frenzy in the sheer amount of gore and detail lavished upon chopped up body parts disembowelment. It is a bleak unpleasant read and while I can hope that things may be expanded on in later volumes it's brevity is a blessing in disguise as if it ends up just being blood and gore it won't be too much of an investment or as emotionally exhausting if it were longer. Also not recommended for those squeamish about violence against children and the character design for Shinozaki Airi feels a little too risque for a sixth grader. Overall an uncomfortable read that could improve in story mechanics and show more than tell or exposition character motivation. I'd rather see why a character is a way they are instead of them explaining why they love violence or plot points for the audience so the protagonist is reduced to cipher and ceases to be a real being in a fictional universe.

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