Akira Toriyama is a mangaka well-known for creating best-selling manga series “Dr. Slump” and the “Dragon Ball”/”Dragon Ball Z” series. And also for his artwork on video games such as the “Dragon Quest” and “Tobal” series.
But while his longer series is well-know in the United States, for many people, they are unaware of his shorter manga series.
Having created one-shots and shorter stories since the late ’70s, one of Toriyama’s 1997 short series “Cowa!” will now being released in the U.S. courtesy of Viz Media.
Having suffered from an arm injury in 1997, Toriyama was unsure if he would work on a manga again. Knowing he could not work on a long series, he began working on “Cowa!”, a 14-chapter short series serialized on Weekly Shonen Jump.
“Cowa!” is a series that revolves around young monsters living in Batwing Ridge. While humans and monsters do co-exist, both avoid each other.
The series focuses on a young half-vampire and half-werekoala named Paifu. While a bit mischievous, Paifu has good heart and he often hangs out with his friend Jose Rodriguez (a shapeshifting ghost). Both are night creatures and they attend school during the night.
One day, Paifu wants to see something scary, so he takes Jose to the Redfox Coast to see a human killer. It turns out to be Mr. Maruyama, the former champion sumo wrestler. And while on Maruyama’s raft, when Maruyama tries to make a cross with twigs, he finds out that Paifu will turn to a wild, tall, werekoala and the only way to bring him back is to show him something round.
But Maruyama explains to the children that the death he caused was throwing an opponent out of the ring and the person landed wrong and died. Disgraced from what happened, Maruyama left to Batwing Ridge to get away from everyone.
The following morning, Paifu goes to the homes of his friends, to find out that everyone is suffering from a monster flue and if not treated, the monsters will die in a month.
The only cure is medicine made by the witch of Horned-Owl Mountain in the west, 750 miles away. But with all of the town nearly sick, they need someone strong to take them to the Horned-Owl Mountain, so Paifu asks Maruyama to take them. Maruyama agrees if he is paid $10,000, so he can buy a new boat and Paifu lies and tells him that the town will do it.
So, Paifu, along with Jose and his rival Arpon go along with Maruyama to get medicine for the town.
But are these young monsters ready to venture out into a new world, full of humans, bad people and also bad monsters?
Akira Toriyama may not be known in the U.S. for writing children’s manga, the fact is that “Dr. Slump” and “Dragon Ball” were based on the life or adventure of child characters. Granted, Arale of “Dr. Slump” is a robot and Goku of “Dragon Ball” is often engaged in fights and battles, but “Cowa!” is not more about the fighting (as there is some action featured) but more about teamwork, friendship and these four individuals trying to do what’s necessary to save the people of the village.
The character designs do not resemble other works of Akira Toriyama but the fact that Toriyama managed to create something new and different was quite refreshing.
If anything, the series is upbeat and fun and while about monsters, it’s not scary nor is it too violent. And most importantly, the manga is rated for “All Ages”. But for parents wanting to know if there is violence, there are scenes when bad guys try to take land from a family that Paifu and the others are visiting. And to protect them, Paifu and Maruyama take on the badguys. There is no depiction of people getting smacked around or getting roughed up badly. But there are mild action moments throughout this graphic novel.
The overall manga is a quick read that readers will probably finish with an hour. But the story is quite enjoyable that I would love to see Akira Toriyam revisit “Cowa!” again.
If you are looking for a lighthearted manga that both young and old can enjoy, “Cowa!” by “Dragon Ball” and “Dr. Slump” creator Akira Toriyama is recommended!