Kokonose Mutsu, the 9th generation descendant of the Ogres of Tougentou Island, possessor of purple hair and evil grin, is on a mission to retake his homeland.
Momo Tama, the new manga series from Nanae Chrono, is based around the Japanese folktale of Momotaro; the story of a young boy born from a giant peach, who grows up to banish a gang of ogres from their island home, with the aid of a helpful troupe of animals (For those of you who don’t know the story, the saga of Momotaro is lovingly summarised in a brief interlude halfway through this debut volume). Having been previously enamoured with the original legend, I was determined to see if Momo Tama was just a simple retelling, or whether it could do something new and entertaining with an age-old tale. On this count, Momo Tama doesn’t disappoint. The plot, set on the modern-day island, shows some real imagination. The twist comes with the fact that Kokonose enrols in the island’s military school, which specialises in teaching students how to exterminate the very ogres that our dubious hero is related to.
The story shows a lot of promise for future volumes, setting up a solid base for the reader to get to grips with, while also providing some mysterious elements to keep you hooked until the next instalment. The pacing suffers at times from having to pack in so much new information in one go, which tends to drag in certain scenes, although this seems more like an unavoidable symptom of starting afresh with an inventive setting rather than sloppy writing. There’s so much material here that you’ll still feel that you got your money’s worth.
The art style, while slightly generic, is skilfully done. The digital shading gives the whole production a very sleek and professional feel. The whole look of the manga really imbues the characters with a sense of life and personality, particularly Kokonose’s aforementioned evil smirk, which, coupled with his greater-than-thou attitude and strange vernacular, create a mystifying yet interesting protagonist, as well as a distinctive mascot for the franchise. The only minor gripe with the illustrations is that the panels sometimes feel cluttered, making certain pages difficult to read, especially if you’re not particularly familiar with manga. However, this is but a momentary blip, and is unlikely to interfere with anyone’s enjoyment of the manga.
So all in all, Momo Tama gets off to a strong start, showing some real promise for future volumes. Despite some slight hitches, you’ll still be left wanting more from this strange but engaging school and the most bizarre of its students.