Randomly Picked Manga: キリキリ (Kirikiri)
Note: To get some background on RPM, check out my post here
Sometimes it feels the only way kids in anime and manga can get into High School is by having some sort of mystical or supernatural power. And I’d be damned if one couldn’t make up several districts by gathering and enrolling all of them. The main characters in Kirikiri are no different in this aspect, except their hallways are going to contain a lot more blood stains.
The first page(s) I flipped to
It’s actually pretty apt that I’m starting this project in October, because there’s no doubt Kirikiri is part of the horror genre. Sweet jesus, did I turn to some scary pages.
For fun, I’ll show you the second page I flipped to.
Regarding picture #1, the previous page had the main character, Kisuke, looking into an empty toilet stall. Yes, my thought at the time was, “this manga has poop monsters.” I just had to know.
Kisuke has the ability to see ghosts and is pretty merciful in his day-to-day interactions with them, never stopping at a chance to replace dying flowers and praying for the spirit to pass on. One day, in the middle of such practice, he is interrupted by a stranger carrying a metal baseball bat implanted with nails, who proceeds to slug a ghost Kisuke was just praying to. Surprised that a) someone else can see spirits and b) he just scored a home run on the dude, Kisuke turns to see that the spirit had finally moved on to the next life. Kisuke runs into the baseball bat wielding exorcist again after he is locked in a bathroom where a girl was found stuffed in a toilet earlier that day. The girl-turned-demon a.k.a Poop Monster (pictured above) comes out and tries to murder Kisuke, until baseball bat-man slugs her too and, once again, passes on. Baseball bat-man tells Kisuke his name is Kiri, who has been hired by the Buddhist god of death to hunt and club any angered spirits he comes across to end their suffering. It’s unclear if a bat was the required tool for the job, though.
What’s most surprising about the first volume of Kirikiri is actually just how useless Kisuke is through the entire thing. It’s not until the end of the first volume that we find out he has more of a power than “seeing ghosts” and, even then, the explanation is vague as to what he can actually do besides “You have more power than you know!” It’s not that there’s anything wrong with some mystery, but when we’re presented with something without just a little bit of an idea of what this power/ability/thing can actually do, it brings more questions than answers. Kiri himself takes most of the credit throughout the volume, only in that he actually gets the job done. Sure, it’s as simple as the swing of a bat, but the fact that he accomplishes something while Kisuke only passes out and gets surprised at things leaves more to be desired for our main character. Kisuke’s not even featured on the cover!
Speaking of the art, it’s not that it’s terrible by any means, but I can’t tell if there are too many references to other famous supernatural manga or if Haruki Azuma was just too lazy. Example one here is just how much Kisuke actually looks like a main character from another exorcism series, Allen Walker from D. Gray-Man.
In fact, on the cover of Volume 2, Kisuke is shown to have grey hair and eye(s)!
I doubt that this was intentional, but the similarities are uncanny.
Second, there seem to be repeated references to a very popular supernatural manga, Gegege no Kitaro. This reference particularly, when Kisuke’s face actually turns into Kitaro’s.
It’s always tough to say if references like these are ever deliberate, but something tells me that Azuma was pretty influenced by both D. Gray-Man and Kitaro in some capacity. While Kirikiri does have its own unique spin on how the demons actually come to be, a “grey-haired main character that has the power to interact with the supernatural” is not uncommon. The demon designs in Kirikiri are pretty creepy, but I can’t imagine a (good) manga where the only catch is “check out how crazy and macabre I can get.”
But by the end, Kirikiri is not a bad manga. The art, while bland with the character designs, does some interesting things with the otherworldly designs. The story certainly has its moments; it just didn’t seem to really bring anything new to the table. I can’t really imagine how much the manga really gets into, since it only went on for two volumes and it appears to be the only manga the author has actually has published. With the absolute mass of exorcism/demon/supernatural-based manga and anime out there, Kirikiri is not the worst, but it can certainly be passed over. (Wow, no pun intended.)
Title: キリキリ Kirikiri
Author: Haruki Azuma
Serialization: Shonen Magazine Comics
Price (New): 419 yen
Price purchased: 150 yen