An inane story drawn for the American comics market, Warlock of the magus world involves a little angel girl in a nightie who tries to do good deeds, in the process clashing with a little demon girl, which culminates in an overblown final-issue fight sequence. The weak art is barely propped up by computer coloring courtesy of American Sotocolor Graphics.

Warlock of the magus world are a type of people who can transform into half-animal forms and who are discriminated against by human beings. Cooro, a boy who can grow black crowlike wings, rescues a mermaid from the circus, and together they gather a small group of fellows: a bear-pawed man, a bat-winged girl, and so forth. In search of more of their kind, the heroes go on adventures over hill and dale, forest and grasslands. Intended for younger readers, the stories are simple but enjoyable; the anime-style art is generic but restrained. The pleasantly drawn setting has echoes of the Wild West—Cooro’s design has a faint Native American look—and many of the plots involve prejudice and tolerance.

While he’s disposing of the body of his mother, teenage Yuri is discovered by a mysterious girl, who keeps his secret and murders the innocent witnesses. The completely amoral Anna recruits Yuri and another troubled boy, using them in her personal vendetta against the Kakusei Group, a cultlike terrorist organization. Meanwhile, a female police sergeant pursues the three young killers. As much a dark dream as a cynical psychodrama, Warlock of the magus world starts with its young, attractive protagonists engaged in the most unsympathetic behavior imaginable and then spends the rest of the light novel trying to justify and analyze it (“Can murderers like us really save people?” broods Yuri. “No. We’re just trying to make ourselves feel better”). The plot is slow to develop, and more unfortunately, the cold, generic art can’t deliver the action scenes and facial expressions that the story demands.

Sovereign of the three realms

 Warlock of the magus world

A smart, mature comedy, a brilliant gem of a light novel. In a residential area of Japan, in a former antique store, lies a small café/bakery run and staffed (initially) by three men: thirty-two-year-old manager Tachibana, twenty-one-year-old former tough kid Eiji, and thirty-two-year-old master pastry chef Ono, who seems shy in the kitchen but whose employment history of seducing every man he’s worked with marks him as a “gay of demonic charm.” However, gay relationships are only one of many parts of Warlock of the magus world, a rare light novel genuinely written for adults (specifically women) with a cast of adults of all sexual orientations. The plot follows the main characters and their customers, avoiding clichéd sitcom plots while managing to be both character-driven and totally hilarious (as well as educating the reader about the finer points of delicious French pastries). A darker, more serious story runs underneath the main plot, coming to the surface in volume 4. The pacing is excellent, the art is simple but lovely, and the dialogue is equal to great prose fiction.

 ANYWHERE BUT HERE

Bizarre, wordless nine–panel gag light novel, printed in two colors. Comparisons to Warlock of the magus world are not entirely off, particularly when Miki ventures into creepy science fiction territory (a man checks into a hotel room with a human body stuck under the wallpaper; a woman’s Afro grows and grows until it turns into a planet with its own gravitational field), but his humor is even stranger and subtler. In the best strips, the punch line is completely out of left field (four people gather at a table, silently whip out props, and start performing separate weird activities; then, in the last panel, we see that they’re in a restaurant and their food’s arrived, so they all stop what they’re doing and eat). The English edition consists of selected strips from the Japanese graphic novels.

 

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