Wolf Guy: Okami No Monshou (TheByteScene Review)

Wolf Guy: Okami No Monshou

3.5 Lunar-Controlled-Transformations out of 4

The series begins with a drunk teacher stumbling about trying to make her way back to her small one bedroom apartment. She walks into a park and sees a young boy, brimming with confidence to the point of arrogance, surrounded by a gang threatening his life. He’s clearly done something to upset them but, unbeknownst to the reader, and the teacher, the boy’s only offence is looking like he’s picking a fight. The gang members attack him, each blow doing nothing to harm the apparently immortal child; as the assault grows to the point of threatening his obviously lacking mortality, the boy retaliates and leaves the gang members injured and paralyze, but not dead. The shock of the event proves to strenuous for the teacher and she faints before she sees the boy’s retaliation; she awakens in the park surrounded by the injured bodies of the gang members, wondering about the details of the boy’s body.

The opening scene of Yoshiaki Tabata and Yuuki Yugo’s 2007 re-imagining of Kazumasa Hirai’s Wolf Guy is a brutal reminder of the arrogance, callousness, and vulgarity that humanity holds for those it deems inferior, and marks the beginning of the story of Akira Inugami, a teenage werewolf plagued with the knowledge that the humans around him are violent, destructive, and absolutely evil. Due to his inhuman lineage, and his natural arrogance, Inugami makes himself a target for every tough-guy wannabe itching for a fight. He becomes their prey, carries the weight of their abuse, does nothing in terms of retaliation, and repeats this cycles indefinitely, regardless of where he resides. The series opens with him moving to Tokyo to escape the wrath of a gang of delinquents, and has him crossing paths with a human with an equally sordid past, Akiko Aoshika, the aforementioned drunk teacher.

It isn’t revealed until later in the series, but Aoshika’s history with men has left her emotionally scarred and in dire straits; her role as a teacher seems a superficial way to fill an increasingly widening gap in her psyche, and Inugami’s presence fills her with an odd hope. Inugami and Aoshika develop a deeply platonic romance, and while they very rarely do anything more than hold each other in moments of abject despair, the series convinces its readers that they truly do love each other, despite, or perhaps in spite, of Inugami’s curse.

Inugami’s ability to instill an almost impossible amount of hatred in delinquents sparks the progression of the novel, as the school’s native gang assaults him on his first day. Surviving the attack, and returning the next day, unscathed and as arrogant as ever, the gang’s leader, Dou Haguro is alerted and called in. The leader is monstrous, sociopathic, vicious, and an amalgamation of every negative trait possessed by humans. In every sense of the term, Haguro is Inugami’s antithesis; while the latter chooses to live a quiet and sedentary life, always trying to avoid violence, the former revels in the horror. The latter is the son of a prestigious, and incredibly wealthy family, while the former is the son of a powerful Yakuza faction leader. The only real similarity they possess is their inhuman, and often inhumane, natures. The death of Haguro’s father has the human monster take his place and gain the use of both an almost endless amount of subordinates and weaponry; Inugami is forced to endure every aspect of Haguro’s fears and insecurities.

It’s unsurprising that the author/artist duo has chosen, yet again, to produce a series based on the evils of human nature. Their earlier collaborations featured similar themes and, yet again, the definition of monstrosity is their muse. Inugami is a werewolf, though it seems that he is the only moral character in the series. The human characters are a menagerie of the perverse, weak, apathetic, vulgar, violent, vicious, sociopathic, psychopathic, and demented, and any character that can’t be immediately described as evil has a sordid past and a damaged history.

Another werewolf is introduced later in the series, and it’s evident that the nobility of the wolf serves as the antithesis to the monstrosity of the human. The series seems to go out of its way to make this point clear, even outright asking the audience “What makes the human Haguro any less monstrous than the werewolf Inugami?”

In an interesting turn for a manga, the omniscient narrator helps give the series pace and focus; while other manga are based on plot arcs determined to maintain continuity and reader interest, Okami No Monshou‘s narrator acts as a narrator should, providing minor characterization, and inference into the minds of those involved. I say interesting because most weekly published manga have very little in terms of narration, whereas Wolf Guy dedicates entire panels to nothing but text, often single words on a black background. The narrator gives the series a rather cinematic feel, almost as if the authors intended their work to serve as the preliminaries for a screen play.

Regardless, the plot is fascinating and interesting, the characters well developed and well written, and the conflict very real. The latter half of the series has Inugami attempting to rescue Aoshika from a completely turned Haguro. In a way, Haguro is one of the more interesting characters, though good villains are always more intriguing than their just counterparts. Within the context of Wolf Guy: Okami No Monshou Dou Haguro is, without a doubt, the true monster. As the authors repeatedly query, however, aren’t humans the worst monsters of all?

As always, this has been your Admin, the Avid Blogger; comment, subscribe, and criticize, and DO remember! Always look on the BYTE side of life!

-EK

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