Review: Henshin by Ken Niimura

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Title: Henshin
Author: Ken Niimura
Publisher: Image Comics
Publication Date: January 27th 2015
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Format: Paperback, 296 pages
Source: eARC from the Publisher via NetGalley

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I Kill Giants co-creator Ken Niimura (International Manga Award winner and Eisner nominee) brings a unique vision of life in Japan to the page in Henshin. The lives of a kid with peculiar superpowers, a lonely girl discovering herself in the big city, and a businessman on a long night out are some of the short stories included in this collection that will make you laugh, and even maybe shed a tear.

Explore Tokyo as you’ve never seen it before under Nimura’s masterful and imaginative storytelling, printed here for the first time in English.

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It’s weird and way too japanese. And I really loved Ken’s cat, it’s so adorable. Henshin means ‘transformation’ in japanese and is an anthology of 13 stories that portrays the everday life in modern Tokyo. Well, if you don’t know what manga really is or have zero familiarity at all. I suggest that you shouldn’t pick up this one. Why? The stories aren’t that bad, in fact I liked them. There are just lots of strange stuff to take in, that beginners may find it confusing and odd. Who knows that fart could be a powerful weapon? Or a typical guy who could suddenly turn out into a monster? Or is it the mysterious cat who likes to poop a lot? But if you really want to try this out, it’s okay. Just go on reading, it is confusing, I know but you’ll enjoy it eventually.

The stories are set in different genres, non-fiction and fiction. Some are dark, some are funny, and some are heartwarming but all keep in a lighter atmosphere. Ken Niimura’s artwork is also remarkable because the illustration is different from the usual manga art. It’s quite chaotic but impressive and cute. So, here’s a sneak peek:

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Behind the images and stories, Henshin vividly captures the real life in a modern society in an imaginative and sly way. My favorite story is the Victory Sign, it’s about the never ending friendship between Kieta and Kosuke. Though it is only a 20-page or so, the story still touches my heart. You can actually download a sample copy of it legally here. Just read the article and you’ll see the download button there. Par-tay and Shut Up are also my favorite. Lastly, Ken also inlcluded himself in the manga. It’s cool and something new to me. He shared his fascination for cats which is cute and funny, his life experiences, and his journey through the publication of this book that is very inspiring. Recommended.

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