Manga Review: Time Killers

Time Killers is a collection of short stories written and illustrated by Kazue Kato, the author of the Blue Exorcist manga series. This collection was published by VIZ Media’s Shonen Jump Advanced imprint. The collection is rated “T+” for older teens. After reading this release, I would agree with the rating that it received.

Time Killers
Written by: Kazue Kato
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: September 2, 2014

When you open the volume, there’s a fold-out poster that includes the images on the back and front covers, as well as the table of contents for the volume. All the pages of the actual volume are glossy, and there’s even a small section that includes color (for the stories “A Warrior Born of the Red Earth,” “Usaboy!!!,” and “A Guide to Princess Clothes”).

Time Killers contains a total of 11 stories, and they all tackle very different types of stories and subject matter. The first story is “The Rabbit and Me,” which is Kato’s first work. Admittedly, the art is a little on the rough side, but the story itself was so compelling and interesting that the rougher style of the art doesn’t really distract much from the reading experience. I appreciate how Kato was able to convey a story about two teenage boys who have a chance encounter, and then end up being in the same class in school and having fate finding a way to make their paths cross even though one of them has a secret job. It’s especially impressive that this story was able to be brought to life convincingly in just 32 pages. “The Rabbit and Me” would rank up there as one of the best stories that’s included in this collection.

“Tomato” also has a rougher feel to the art, but it’s nowhere near as dark of a story as “The Rabbit and Me” was. It’s a story that takes place in a world that includes anthropomorphic animal characters that interact with humans. A human and a rabbit have been hired to serve as a bodyguard for another rabbit who is being extorted for her tomato fields. Unfortunately, the human bodyguard isn’t very bright, which causes some problems during the story. “Tomato” has a good mixture of humor and drama, even if some of the humor with the human bodyguard didn’t come across as funny to me most of the time..

“A Warrior Born of the Red Earth” is a shorter story when compared to “The Rabbit and Me” and “Tomato.” However, for the type of story this is, making it any longer than it is would have weakened it tremendously. This particular story focuses on a young Native American warrior. The art for this story is the best that appears throughout this volume.

“Usaboy!!!” is another story on the shorter side, and it focuses on a young boy who wants to be a champion of justice. Unfortunately, there’s more to this than the boy realizes, and it affects him. The art style for this story returns to the rougher art style that appeared in “The Rabbit and Me” and “Tomato.” This isn’t a bad story, but it’s not one that stands out to me as much as many of the others do.

“A Guide to Princess Clothes” is the shortest piece in here since it’s only on one page. To be honest, this was my least favorite piece in the entire book. It basically leads up to a gag that I didn’t particularly find to be amusing.

“Highway of Life, Stray Star” is a very touching story of a father and his young daughter. He has to take on crime jobs in order to raise his child, but he goes too far one day. A health crisis happens, which forces the father to turn his life around. This was a sweet story, although I wish it could have been a little longer. It does feel a little rushed at the end, so it might have been a little stronger if it could have had a few more panels to bridge between the final two scenes. Other than that, though, I did enjoy this story.

“Nirai” is a short story about a young man lost at sea and the unusual thing that happens to him. This is another story that wasn’t quite as strong to me as most of the others in this volume. There was just nothing in it to truly hook me into the story and keep me interested. Fortunately, it’s a quick read.

In “Master and I,” a broke guy on New Year’s Eve appears to have something unexpected happen: his rice bowl starts talking to him and granting him wishes. The guy appears to finally have everything he’s ever wanted in his life, until something happens to destroy everything he’s gained from this rice bowl. Even though this was a kind of cliché tale about someone who gets unexpected good fortune and then loses it all, it was still an enjoyable story to read.

“A Maiden’s Prayer” features a girl who ends up alone and seems to only have sorrow and hard times. But one day, something happens to her that completely changes her life. This was a rather short story, but it was still an interesting read. Also, the art style in this story is much closer to the look of “A Warrior Born of the Red Earth” than to anything else in this volume,

I had the chance to read the next story, “Astronerd,” when Weekly Shonen Jump published the story as a preview for Time Killers. It’s about a young man named Yoshio who’s started high school and is trying to shed his “astronerd” image from junior high. The girl he has a crush on has an interest in astronomy, but he still tries to hide his interest from her. And to top it off, some aliens arrive and tell him that he has been selected to be a sample of humanity because Earth will be destroyed. This was a rather enjoyable short story. The two main characters were very well-defined, and Yoshio goes through a lot of growth over the course of the story. The aliens bring on a serious aspect to the story, which is the destruction of the Earth, but they also add some light humor as well.

The final story, “The Miyama-Uguisu Mansion Incident” focuses on the supernatural elements of demons and exorcists. The demon fighter that appears in this story has a very strong resemblance to Rin Okumura from Kato’s Blue Exorcist manga, so I suspect this character would have been a kind of prototype for Rin. Also, the idea of focusing on exorcists and demons is another link that this particular story has to Blue Exorcist. I have a feeling that fans of Blue Exorcist will also enjoy this story.

VIZ Media went to a lot of care with this release, and it’s evident through the various elements that were included in this release that aren’t included in regular manga releases, such as the glossy pages, the section with color, and the fold-out poster. I commend VIZ for taking the time and effort to add these touches to this release.

Overall, I have to say that even with the few faults I found with Time Killers, I still find this to be a rather strong short story compilation. I would definitely recommend this to fans of Kato’s work, as well as to readers who enjoy reading Kato’s Blue Exorcist series. With the various different themes and stories that appear throughout this release, there should be at least one story in here that should appeal to anyone who picks this up and reads it.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

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