Rooster Fighter Volume One follows a rooster named Keiji who takes on demons.

Rooster Fighter Volume One
Written by: Syu Sakuratani
Publisher: Hero’s Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: August 16, 2022

The main character of Rooster Fighter is a rooster who is seeking out a particular demon in order to exact revenge on it for eating his sister. He takes on every demon that he comes across, in the hopes of taking down the right one. Because of his want for revenge, he doesn’t stay in one place for very long.

Almost every story that appears in this volume shows something that the rooster goes through in each location, and he encounters a demon in every location. He’s quick and can peck at demons, but the rooster’s trump card is his loud “cock-a-doodle-doo” that seems to have enough resonance to knock down a demon. At the end of most of the stories, Keiji makes a new friend, but these new friends aren’t enough to make him give up on his quest and settle down somewhere.

There is one exception to this formula, though. Near the end of the volume, the focus of the chapter is on a man who is trying to sell chicks to pay off his debt. He gets tricked by someone in the yakuza to co-sign on his debt and then skips town, leaving the man responsible for his debt. At the same time, the man becomes friends with one of the chicks he raises and discovers a weird “zit” growing on the back of his neck. When the lender comes to collect the other man’s debut, this causes the man transform into a demon. Keiji the rooster arrives and takes care of the situation… but surprises even himself when the man doesn’t die after being defeated as a demon. The little chick wants to join up with Keiji, but it’s made clear from the very beginning of the volume that Keiji hates kids.

Personally, I appreciated getting a chapter that focuses on how the demons Keiji fights are created. From the demons’ dialogue in other chapters, it’s hinted that they’re people with grudges and axes to grind, but this chapter shows the reader the exact process of people turning into demons. However, the one thing that isn’t explained is how the weird bump appears on the neck leading up to the transformation.

I don’t know if it’s just me, but from the way Keiji is portrayed, he comes across like a ronin. Because of that, I felt like I was reading a modern day telling of a ronin story, but it stars a rooster instead of a human. But this isn’t a bad thing, though. Making the main character a rooster gives the reader a different way of looking at this kind of story.

Rooster Fighter Volume One includes a lot of fighting sequences, which helps to make it a quicker read. There are moments that slow the pace down temporarily, and they slow things down enough so the reader doesn’t feel like they’re getting whiplash from all of the action that’s going on in Keiji’s fights with the demons.

At the end of the volume, VIZ Media includes a translation note that explains how the chapter titles in this volume are derived from Japanese proverbs that reference birds, and then explains the proverb that goes with each title. I thought this was a nice touch, and I appreciate the fact that the translator included this information.

There is also a bonus chapter at the end of the volume, which follows up on something that is shown in the first chapter. I thought it was kind of “meh,” and didn’t really add much. Some readers will probably get a chuckle out of it, though.

When it comes to the art, some of the best panels are when Keiji is about to take a demon head-on. Sakuratani seems to put more emphasis on detail in these particular panels, so that helps to make them stand out. The rest of the art isn’t bad, but it just doesn’t stand out quite as much as these panels do.

Overall, I think that Rooster Fighter is off to a good start, and I’d be more than happy to read more of the series if I ever get the chance to. I think this series will be best appreciated by readers who enjoy stories of wandering ronin or who appreciate the idea of this kind of story being told with an animal as a main character.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media