Bakegyamon Volume One was published by VIZ Media’s VIZKids imprint.

Bakegyamon Volume One
Written by: Mitsuhisa Tamura
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 3, 2009

The main character of the series is Sanshiro, an energetic young man who lives on a small island with his grandparents. Sanshiro wants to become an explorer, like his father. He also longs for adventure. His grandparents, however, are not supportive of these dreams and goals.

One day, after Sanshiro has received another lecture from his grandparents, he hears a mysterious voice asking if he wants an adventure. Suddenly, seals appear all over the room, and the voice instructs Sanshiro to peel one. When he peels off a seal, he receives a “starter kit” for a game. A man named Fue also appears, saying that he is Sanshiro’s guide to Bakegyamon. Fue takes Sanshiro to Backwards Japan, a place that is a backwards version of Japan. Fue also tells Sanshiro that whoever wins at Bakegyamon will be granted a single wish. After their arrival at Backwards Japan, the game begins!

Concept-wise, it feels like the creator of Bakegyamon took ideas from series such as Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokemon and tried to put some new twists into the concept. Overall, I don’t really feel there’s much here to distinguish Bakegyamon from other similar “fighting” manga series aimed at the shonen audience. Perhaps future volumes of the series will find a way to distinguish itself from these other properties.

The art style also doesn’t have very much to make it stand out from other manga properties that have a similar premise. Like other shonen manga, this one also has its fair share of the “busy” panels, especially during action sequences. Personally, I thought the character design for Sanshiro feels a little too similar to Ash Ketchum (except for the fact that Sanshiro wears his cap backwards). These similarities in design are only reinforced by the characters’ similar enthusiastic personalities.

In the end, I was left with the impression that Bakegyamon felt like a derivative story. However, if you enjoy manga series such as Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokemon Adventures, you might also find enjoyment in Bakegyamon.

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