The season of new manga debuting in Shonen Jump continues. The second series that is debuting in this latest round is Kagurabachi by mangaka Takeru Hokazono. Hokazono has published several one-shots with their debut one-shot manga titled “Enten” wining the 100th Tezuka Manga Award in 2020. Kagurabachi is Hokazono’s first ongoing manga series, handling both the writing and artwork. Let’s see how Shonen Jump’s newest series debuts with Kagurabachi Chapter 1.
Writer & Artist: Takeru Hokazono
15-year-old Chihiro Rokuhira is raised by his dad, Kunishige Rokuhira, who is known as the most famous swordsmith. His dad’s friend Mr. Shiba reveals to Chihiro that Kunishige master swordsmith skills was vital to ending the Seitei War 15 years earlier.
Chihiro wishes to be trained to become a swordsmith by his dad. Hearing this Kunishige tells Chihiro being a swordsmith also means carrying the principles and accountability knowing they are creating weapons to kill. Chihiro shows commitment to becoming a swordsmith so his dad accepts him as an apprentice.
38 months later the Korogumi Yakuza group completely took over the city with the help of a sorcerer. The Korogumi make their rule known by killing all those that oppose them.
Now 18-years-old a scarred Chihiro, wielding his father’s final sword, travels to the Korogumi-controlled city with Mr. Shiba. They waste no time in tracking down the Korogumi.
Going alone Chihiro utilizes his dad’s final sword, which Kunishige imbued wit sorcery, to unleash an attack called Enten Black. The attack kills a large number of Korogumi’s gang in an instant. Chihiro then goes about annihilating all of Korogumi until only their leader is left.
Chihiro demands to know where The Hishaku, which the sorcerer the Korogumi were working it is part of, is. The leader is afraid to say but Chihiro is not scared as he plans to cut down The Hishaku. End of chapter.
Kagurabachi Chapter 1 does everything you can ask for from a debut of a new ongoing series. Your immediately brought in by likable characters. These characters are then used to start building out the mythology of the new world Takeru Hokazono introduces to the reader.
Throughout the first chapter of Kagurabachi, Hokazono makes sure to sprinkle information about the world this series takes place in. This is a smart way to go about making the world of Kagurabachi unique. While clearly inspired by Japan there is no constrictions to a known setting or time period. Rather, you are going to be discovering a lot about Kagurabachi as the series moves forward. This creates a sense of unlimited potential for where Hokazono can take the cast and world of Kagurabachi.
Which turns out to be helpful for the form we see Chihiro Rokuhira take on by the end of this first chapter. We’ve had a lot of stories in the modern era of an overpowered protagonist right out of the gate. The 18-year-old version of Chihiro in his first big fight ends up falling down this rabbit hole. But to Hokazono credit they make sure its more about presenting Chihiro as a badass character rather than simply overpowered. That is an important distinction to have.
This goes back to the sense of unlimited potential Kagurabachi Chapter 1 oozes. We learn just enough about what is going on to understand there is a big world awaiting to have its secrets uncovered. And because we get such a drastic time jump right out of the gate that wonder turns into something that has darker tones. Which is highlighted by how Chihiro is presented when he is fifteen and eighteen years old.
Already we get a lot of logic used to explain why Chihiro would become a badass magic sword wielder. Being born the son of the most famous swordsmith, who is credited for playing a key role in ending a war called “The Seitei War,” is a big deal. This immediately tells us that Chihiro is a talented individual who used the time he got to watch his father and then work as an apprentice swordsmith to build himself up.
Establishing the strong father-son bond Kunishige and Chihiro had made the time jump that more dramatic. Hokazono shows trust in the reader to have it mentioned that the eighteen-year-old Chihiro is using his father’s final sword to tell that Kunishige is no longer around. Kunishige’s implied death understandably would fuel no only his brutal fighting style but Chihiro’s lack of care for his appearance.
Having a supporting character in Mr. Shiba, who was friends with Kunishige, is a great instant addition to the cast. Since he took part in “The Seitei War” Mr. Shiba can be the fountain of information for the backstory of this world. At the same time, Hokazono makes sure to establish that Mr. Shiba isn’t here to just be about exposition. Mr. Shiba is a powerful fighter in his own right. This should lead to an intriguing dynamic between Chihiro and Mr. Shiba.
Which leads into the big reveal of the Kagurabachi world being one where there is magic that openly exists. Not only that but Kunishige was able to channel magic into his sword making, further highlighting why he had the title of the most famous swordsmith. This along with other context clues make the mysterious Hishaku group that Chihiro is after so compelling. We already got a hint at how powerful the Hishaku are as a group through the one member that appears in Kagurabachi Chapter 1.
The other aspect we see developed on the antagonist side is that it appears there is instability in the world with the Yakuza running around. While Chihiro took out the Korogumi gang there is a likelihood they aren’t the only Yakuza group controlling various locations. This along with establishing the Hishaku group already gives Kagurabachi plenty to explore.
Kagurabachi Chapter 1 is a fantastic debut by Takeru Hokazono. The series lead in Chihiro Rokuhira is presented in a compelling and badass way. The world of Kagurabachi itself is brimming with unlimited potential. All that combined with excellent artwork makes Kagurabachi a manga not to miss out on.
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10