One of the manga I’ve been keeping up with lately is Jagaaaaaan. Written by Muneyuki Kaneshiro and illustrated by Kensuke Nishida, Jagaaaaaan (yes, exactly six a!) is a seinen horror manga serialized by Big Comic Spirits magazine. It debuted on February 6, 2017. The main gist of the story is that evil alien frogs have invaded the world and inserted themselves into human hosts, whom they transform into monsters called fractured humans, creatures debased by their innermost desire. Our hero, Jagasaki, is a mild-mannered and deferential young policeman with a hidden desire to “shoot ’em up” or take revenge against the people who walk all over him in real life. But when the frogs drop to Earth, he also becomes a fractured human, one whose arm becomes a biological gun, enabling him to make his fantasies real.
Once the transformation takes place, Jagasaki also gains a companion, a cute talking owl who eats the fractured humans Jagasaki destroys and poops out little dung balls that Jagasaki must eat to maintain his humanity. The more fractured human remains the owl eats, the smarter it becomes.
As you can probably tell, Jagaaaaaan is a manga that it is almost impossible to describe to someone else, especially if that person doesn’t read manga. The premise sounds ridiculously weird, and the mix of humor, horror and surrealism is, like Jagaaaaaan’s frogs, alien to many western comic books. Nevertheless, Jagaaaaaan isn’t a particularly difficult manga to follow. The art is cleanly drawn, flows effortlessly and the monsters the mangaka create are all visually impressive. So far, the chapters have mostly been good and moved the story forward, including in a few drastic and dramatic ways early on, but there has been one total dud of a chapter, too. The idea of being distorted by your strongest desire, while not totally original, is powerful and fascinating, and there’s no better example than the manga’s first villain, an office bully whose demeaning behaviors attain literal form when he becomes a coiling, slithering and very sharp tongue!
I’m keeping an eye on this one.