Review

by Lissa Pattillo, Aug 18th 2010

Wolf God

GN 1

Synopsis:
Wolf God GN 1
The alpha-male of a wolf pack is coming upon his last days but his predecessor is nowhere to be found. With little time left, the intended alpha-male's brother embarks on a quest to the city to try and find his missing sibling. The city isn't kind to a young wolf-boy's senses however and Kyounosuke soon finds his senses dulling and his powers waning. Fortunately he meets schoolgirl Koyuki who takes him in and even offers him his first, and perhaps most important, clue to his brother's whereabouts. But there's more to do than sniff out fading trails as members of Kyounosuke's family aren't too keen with the current situation and soon the streets of Tokyo are ripe with warring humanoid-wolf-cubs, magical guardian spirits and ear-piercing dog whistles.
Review:

Koyuki is the story's lead female - your fairly average schoolgirl swept up in supernatural happenings. She goes with the flow perhaps a little too easily considering the magical mayhem that's suddenly plopped onto her lap and the strange young boy who's suddenly collapsed in her home. The story tries to play up her semi-mental preparation for this by emphasizing how bored she is with her current day to day life but it still feels like she leaps, like so many before her, too headlong into the fray with less believable freak-out then perhaps she could've used. Her spunk and energy still manages to work in her favour though - she's caring, optimistic and the right level of cynical to be honest and smart without being obnoxious or bratty. Koyuki is notably the life of the story while also playing the role of observer so readers have a consistent outlet for learning about the ins, outs and who-done-it's of the story.

On the other side of things, you have what exists of Kyounosuke, the presumable lead character. If the whole story rested on his shoulders it would be a chore to finish. New to the city and on a quest to sniff out his brother, Kyounosuke quickly finds himself under the weather and spends the majority of the story with a fever (one that dissipates when required for plot-purposes). Bedridden is still no excuse for being so uninteresting. The story repeatedly gives us reason to see different sides of Kyounosuke that could prove more engaging but they just don't stick. He doesn't want to take over his pack, he doesn't want to wed his potential-fiancé, he wants to unravel the mystery of his brother's disappearance, he has a dangerous rivalry with his cousin – neat stuff but it falls short of making us care because Kyounosuke himself rarely feels like he cares (with perhaps one minor exception when he starts to cry – offering a stark one-extreme-or-the-other moment). It also always seems like someone else is always showing up to explain everything - Kyounosuke is telling little of his own story, literally or subtly, and it makes him feel even more disconnected. Moments where he's interesting are based on the interaction he has with other more inherently entertaining people such as when he first meets Koyuki and her friends at the story's start.

One of these aforementioned interesting people is Kyounosuke's cousin, Kanosuke. Angered by Kyounosuke's position as potential-alpha of their family's pack, Kanosuke takes any chance he can get (most of which he makes himself) to attack Kyounosuke and prove himself the stronger. Kanosuke is an enjoyable character simply because he's a jerk – he oozes pride and his sharp tongue lays down more than its share of insults. Each time he confronts Kyounosuke, regardless of whether or not the lead is ill or preoccupied, he immediately lays the smack down on him – it may not be pretty but it's oddly refreshing having a character who acts out so to-the-point. A heated fight scene between the two at the book's ends offer up the most attention-grabbing scene of the book in terms of character development for both as well.

The artwork of Wolf God is as mixed a bag as the characters. The technical side of the art is fantastic – the sharp inking, well-balanced use of screen tones and heavy use of black really shows some skill. Each page looks crisp and polished. The drawings themselves on the other hand, while certainly not terrible, do unfortunately suffer from a sense of stiffness. There are some dynamic poses in the few scenes that require them but basic panel to panel scenes often look flat and lifeless. Postures can often look too posed and Koyuki's eyes are tiny pupils floating in pools that often give her the stereotypical soulless appearance, while Kyounosuke's repetitively deadpan expression hampers what little personality he has.

Despite some of its artistic shortcomings, Wolf God is still a predominantly visual book which works both for and against its favour depending on how much you like that particular facet. The story itself at least sports some interesting elements and is generally easy to follow - excluding perhaps a cast far too laden with similar names (Kokuyou, Kyounosuke , Koyuki, Kanosuke, etc.). Unfortunately this first volume still falls short of being much past mildly-entertaining, especially when things start looking too familiar – Koyuki is kidnapped and Kyounosuke is now enrolled in her school, you say? In combination the story and art may be enough to give Wolf God a fighting chance but it's not likely to leave many howling for volume two.

Grade:
Production Info:
Overall : C+
Story : C+
Art : B-

+ Strong technical skill makes the art pop off the page; story is easy to follow and has some fun supernatural elements that anthro fans in particular will appreciate
Lead character goes over the line of socially inept and into the realms of no personality; story has dramatic elements but fails to feel like it; inert poses hamper the strengths of the artwork while too many similar names can prove confusing

Story & Art:Ai Tenkawa

Full encyclopedia details about
Wolf God (manga)

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Wolf God (GN 1)

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