ARC Review: Black Torch, Vol. 1 by Tsuyoshi Takaki

Black Torch, Vol. 1Black Torch, Vol. 1 by Tsuyoshi Takaki
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Release date: August 7, 2018

Ninja and animal lover Jiro Azuma’s life is changed forever when he finds himself in the middle of a war with ninjas vs. demons.

Jiro Azuma is descended from of a long line of shinobi, and he also can talk to animals. One day, he rescues a very unique black cat named Rago, a supernatural being, and is dragged into a secret supernatural war.

Although he may appear rough-and-tumble, Jiro Azuma’s compassionate side emerges when it comes to the furry critters he can communicate with. But Jiro’s soft spot for animals gets him in major trouble when a suspicious stray cat fuses with him, granting him exceptional power but also dragging him into humanity’s hidden battle against powerful Japanese spirits, mononoke.

Black Torch has a pretty generic plotline when it comes down to it – a boy whose destiny it is to hunt demons, and he is recruited into an organization where he is utilized as a tool because of his powers. Jiro has a soft spot for animals, but one day he crosses paths with a demon in the form of a cat, who then proceeds to meld with him, granting him powers and watching over him. This first volume mostly establishes the world, the characters, the organization and the dangers he might face in the future.

The best thing about it its artwork – while not heavy on details, it has a dynamic style to it, allowing for some well-rendered fight scenes (there are many for an introductory volume) and movements. As for the characters, well, they are placeholders for regular tropes. The plot somehow reminded me of Ao no Exorcist, with regards to it themes (half-demon boy being recruited by a demon-killing organization, but is not respected enough/considered only a tool? questionable father figure? protag prone to getting into trouble?) The world might have been interesting but it doesn’t offer up much yet.

Overall, it is a pretty basic shonen storyline at the moment, and I am hoping it gets better in future volumes.

Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review from Viz Media, via Edelweiss.

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