It's not often I buy a manga these days - I'm usually too swamped with what I'm sent to actually get out there and peruse the shelves, but on a visit to York I picked up a copy of Black God.
Now, it's Korean so some of you might argue it's not strictly manga (which would be correct, this is a Manhwa), but the style is the much the same and the artwork by Sung-Woo Park was so good I couldn't resist it.
And I'm glad I picked it up. Firstly, it's from a company called Yen Press, who I hadn't heard of previously, and secondly because it's such a great read.
The story itself concerns a game programmer called Keita Ibuki, who is something of a moocher. His long suffering childhood friend Akane Sano funds his lifestyle, as she's seemingly struck with the age old illness of being in love with a total cretin. Keita, of course, neither notices nor cares.
An uncharacteristic act of kindness, in which he gives away some ramen to a hungry girl, draws him into a world of pain. The girl, it transpires, is a Mototsumitama, a powerful supernatural being who is hunted by her own kind. Shortly afterwards, Keita is caught up in a fight between the girl, Kuro, and one such hunter, during which he loses his arm. The next thing he knows, he's back in his apartment, arm attached. But it's not his...
The pacing of the book is pretty much spot on - there's always plenty happening, and the exposition is snappy and concise. The artwork sits well on the page, with a solid, imaginative layout. It never looks rushed and the panelling flows smoothly.
There are a few things that may be off-putting. The level of violence in this book is pretty high, and it's a little disturbing to see how many people are prepared to beat up a young girl. Keita himself is also pretty rough, and certainly hasn't any clue on how to deal with the fairer sex. This might lessen his appeal, but he does show just enough redeeming features to give him the benefit of the doubt. The language used in the book is also frequently strong, and is not something suitable for younger readers.
However, if you're able to cope with the violence and the language, you'll have a great time with Black God. Kuro makes for an engagingly cute lead (the final chapter detailing the origins of her fighting style was particularly memorable) and given the plot twists in the book, it seems there's plenty more to come.