Manga Review: Yukarism Volume One

Yukarism Volume One introduces Yukari Kobayakawa, a 17-year-old high school student who is an accomplished writer. His writings include amazingly accurate historical details about the Edo period, even though he has never researched that era. Somehow, it’s as if a faint memory of the distant past exists within him.

Yukarism Volume One
Written by: Chika Shiomi
Publisher: Hakusensha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: December 2, 2014

Volume One opens with Yukari encountering a girl named Mahoro Tachibana and feeling like he knows her from somewhere even though this is the first time they’ve met. It turns out that Mahoro is a fan of Yukari’s writing, and she starts trying to hang around him. One day, Yukari notices an old burn on Mahoro’s wrist and then faints into a deep sleep.

It’s then that the reader learns how Yukari knows as much as he does about the Edo period without any research. It turns out his soul travels into a woman from the Edo period named Yumurasaki, who is a renowned courtesan. Since Yukari’s soul is inside Yumurasaki when it travels to the Edo period, it causes Yumurasaki to act differently than she normally does. But somehow Yukari finds a way to make it through without giving away that he’s not really Yumurasaki.

When the reader first sees Yukari’s soul travel back to the Edo period, he discovers that he did know Mahoro back then, but as a man instead of a woman. Yukari also meets Yumurasaki’s apprentice, Hitoha. This becomes important when Yukari returns to his world, because he later meets Emi Yoshizumi, the reincarnation of Hitoha. Hitoha’s reincarnation is another fan of Yukari’s writing, and Mahoro becomes jealous of the interest that Yukari shows in her. At this point, Yukarism seems to be establishing a love triangle between Mahoro, Emi, and Yukari, but with Yukari not seeming to be romantically interested in either of the girls at this point in the series.

When Yukari returns to Yumurasaki’s body a second time in Volume One, he is introduced to Shizuka Takamura, a man who everyone refers to as a witch doctor. As Yukari spends time around him as Yumurasaki, it becomes readily apparent that this guy is poised to be the villain of the story. And when Yukari returns to his own time, it’s hinted at the end of the volume that he encounters the modern day reincarnation of Shizuka. From seeing Yumurasaki’s memories, Yukari knows that she will be murdered, and it appears that Shizuka could potentially be the murderer.

For the most part, Yukarism Volume One spends most of its time establishing the major characters, the world that the characters inhabit, and the concept of the series. So far, it appears that Yukari will end up going back and forth between his world and the Edo period and encountering the modern day reincarnations of people from the Edo period when he returns to his world. Hopefully the story has gotten a lot of this accomplished in this first volume, but there could be the potential for others to appear as the series continues. Yukarism has an interesting, yet strange, concept going for it, and I’m hoping that the next volume will work at starting to progress the overarching story.

When it comes to the art in Yukarism Volume One, I really have to give Shiomi credit for the detail she goes into during the scenes in the Edo period. This is especially true when it comes to Yumurasaki’s character design. While there is some good art included in the modern day scenes, most of the standout panels and designs appear in the Edo period scenes. But in both time periods, the art style helps to keep the reader engaged and interested in what’s going on in the story.

Yukarism Volume One gets the story off to a decent start, and hopefully the promise that this volume shows will continue as the series progresses. Shojo manga fans that enjoy stories that include historical and supernatural elements will probably enjoy reading Yukarism.

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