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Yozakura Quartet, Volume 1

Review

Yozakura Quartet, Volume 1

Though touted as a superhero book by Del Rey, its American publisher, YOZAKURA QUARTET is no Justice League, nor WATCHMEN. The trio of female heroes are not flirty, flesh-flashing bimbos, and the adolescent male who rounds out the quartet is more mouse than (super)man. The comparative ordinariness of these heroes --- no spandex or X-ray vision here, though we do get some super-speed, mind-reading, and magical conjuring --- is one of the series’ deepest and most alluring features, as its main characters band together to protect their hometown from a supernatural menace. Creator Suzuhito Yasuda’s writing is rich and deliberately paced, while the artwork is spectacular and moody.

The Japanese town of Sakurashin, surrounded by seven giant magical pillars, is defended from unknown supernatural forces by four members of a super-civil servants organization, Hizumi Life Counseling Office, led by Mayor Hime, a 16-year old girl with uncommon strength. Bookish Kotoha, who has a flair for language; Ao, a telepath with cat ears; and Akina, who is more brave than clever and more clever than strong, round out the quartet.

Yasuda unveils the story arcs of his sh?nen manga with precision and extremely deliberate pacing, powerfully creating an impending sense of chaos and doom while allowing his characters plenty of grace notes and comic moments. The first volume is almost all exposition and enigma, paving the way for an apocalyptic showdown that involves demons and cats, possessed gunmen, and the connection the Hizumi team may have with the very evil they’re fighting. Suzuhito parcels out plot points very, very slowly, and the entire narrative can be disjointed and confusing, which can be frustrating and alienating for newer manga readers looking for some quick action. Characters come and go without much heralding, plot strands vanish then suddenly reappear, and the story can be difficult to follow. It’s not until well into volume two, for example, that we get more delicious tastes of how interconnected the good and evil in this story actually are. That said, the author does know what he’s doing. YOZAKURA QUARTET eventually bullets to greater --- and more greatly satisfying --- storytelling.

More consistently successful is Suzuhito’s artwork, which is vital and vivid, expert at rendering action set pieces, infused with a humor and liveliness. YOZAKURA QUARTET requires a bit of patience from its readers, but loyalists, and readers over the age of 13, will be duly rewarded in later volumes with a superhero story that is unexpected and sweetly moving.

Reviewed by J. Rentilly on February 26, 2008

Yozakura Quartet, Volume 1
by Suzuhito Yasuda

  • Publication Date: February 26, 2008
  • Genres: Manga
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey
  • ISBN-10: 0345501497
  • ISBN-13: 9780345501493