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Genres: Shonen, Comedy, Adventure
Author: Akira Toriyama
Artist: Akira Toriyama
Publication: Shueisha's Weekly Shonen Jump
Start Date: 1997
Number of chapters at review: 14
Number of chapters read by reviewer: 14
General Overview: Cowa! is the story of Paifu, a young vampire who likes to spend his time playing around with his friends such as Jose the ghost and other creatures that go to his class (and even some humans who are around at night and early morning). Soon after various monsters start coming down ill from a monster flu epidemic, Paifu decides to go on a journey with a former sumo wrestler, Jose and his so-called rival Argon to Horned Owl Mountain, to find the witch who manufactures the cure!
Category Ratings: (1-10 scale)
I'm beginning to wish i didn't have to quantify these categorys by number, but I digress. The art in cowa isn't good by shonen standards, often choosing to just go with one character per panel performing one action, but the unusual thing is that this works for what the manga is trying to achieve, helping the manga seem like a transition from the lower targeted manga of anthologies like corocoro to weekly shonen jump. Through this it manages to absorb you into the art despite not actually doing anything amazing. Well, unless you count the fact it's Toriyama not using THAT godforsaken style!
A shorter summary here; the plot is basic and simple, but knows when to put the pressure on at certain points, making you know that there is a time limit for Paifu to finish his adventure. As said earlier, the plot feels more like a children's comic than standard shonen jump fare, but it is still enjoyable despite this.
From Paifu the little vampire, to the old doctor who forgets absolutely everything, the characters are flawless representations of how characterisations in manga should be made. Each either looking or acting in a unique or interesting manner, you truly get enveloped in the basic nature of the characters. Considering this is a very short series that's an impressive feat altogether!
A foggier part of this review, the clearest theme in this is 'the hero's labyrinth', seeing the characters start as something and through their small journey come out better for it in some way. Perhaps this signifies a growing up of the childish characters shown to be scared of niceness at the start of the story but it does carry across to the key human of the story, who has a more notable change over the story.
At the time the series may have felt more original but now another one of Toriyama's works comes to mind as a counterance to the originality: Sandland. If you read Sandland back when Viz Media released it you'll smell a few recurring elements here. Creatures on a journey to find something? Check. Human with a dark past who follows them? Check. I can go on. The only saving grace of the originality is the art, with the aforementioned breaking away from basic Toriyama style (something we've since only seen in the Blue Dragon video game and animé).
Normally this score would simply indicate nothing to shout about, but in the case of Cowa! it isn't. This is Toriyama breaking out of his shell, and creating characters that should easily be more memorable than what are now his cookie cutter gag and action characters from 'those series' I heartily reccomend it on that basis alone.
(Note: Okay that's another series down! I wish i could make these more interesting seeing as i'm so intent on writing as many as i can... Anyway Next is 7th Period is a Secret (due later tonight perhaps?), and seeing as I cannot possibly fit all these in my signature, here's my review schedule. With any luck the mods won't mind me putting this at the bottom of every review XD)