Cowa! by Akira Toriyama

Continuing on with my impromptu spooky manga for the rest of the month, I just finished reading Cowa! by Akira Toriyama. While I’m aware of the whole Dragonball phenomena, I haven’t read that manga because super-long manga about fighting is generally not my thing. So I was happy to sample this single volume about the adventures of Paifu, a half-vampire half-werekoala.

Paifu lives with his mom and friends in a little monster village in the country. He hangs out with a little ghost named Jose Rodriguez and struggle with his nemesis Arpon, a self-proclaimed monster kung-fu expert. The first few stories of the collection deal with the mischievous antics of the monster kids ditching school and visiting the scary house where a human murderer lives. The murderer is a retired sumo wrestler who was exiled after getting too enthusiastic in the ring. When monster flu strikes down most of the residents of the town Paifu and his friends decide to go fetch secure the antidote from a witch who lives on top of a mountain far away. They get the human Maruyama to drive them, and the quest begins.

There are plenty of misunderstandings as the odd group enters human territory on their way to find the medicine they need. Maruyama ends up having quite the reputation in his former life as a sumo wrestler nicknamed “The Volcano.” They make friends along the way, and defeat enemies when needed and end up getting a new car and some cotton candy. Toriyama’s drawing style for Cowa! is cute and whimsical. I could easily see making all of the characters in the book as amigurumi. As you might expect, there are plenty of fart jokes, and Paifu’s hulked-out were-koala form comes in handy whenever Maruyama’s sumo strength can’t solve a problem. I really liked the muted and dark color palette used in the first story in the collection, the rest of the book was in black and white. Cowa! is rated for all ages, and I don’t think I’d have a problem giving it to a younger child, because all the violence in the book is so cartoony and bad things only happen to bad people. Maruyama’s beady-eyed expression of constant resignation as he deals with the monster kids is funny and there’s plenty of humor throughout the volume. I think one of my favorite scenes was when Maruyama was fighting a forest spirit who was armed with gigantic razor sharp knives, waving them around and causing inadvertent deforestation while yelling “Trees of Wood Weep!” I’d recommend Cowa if you enjoy your Halloween stories to be light and funny instead of super-spooky.