The Hunters Guild: Red Hood Volume One introduces the protagonists and the fantasy world of the series.

The Hunters Guild: Red Hood Volume One
Written by: Yuki Kawaguchi
Publisher: Shueisha Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: December 13, 2022

The story opens in a tiny hamlet called Kasoka Village, where a orphan boy named Velou lives. In this world, werewolves are real, and they ate Velou’s parents. Unfortunately, the werewolf attacks on the village have only gotten worse over time, and the population has basically dwindled down to those who are not able-bodied enough to fight (i.e. the elderly and children). The mayor has sold everything he owns so he can hire a hunter from the Hunters Guild. When the hunter from the guild arrives, her name is Grimm and she looks like a little girl. Unfortunately, due to the cost of cancelling Grimm and requesting a new hunter causing the cost to shoot up, the village has no choice but to accept her.

Velou is assigned to act as a guide for Grimm. When the two of them find the werewolf, Velou gets a couple of surprises: the identity of the werewolf, and the fact that Grimm can transform into a woman. As it’s revealed later, Grimm is actually an adult but had a hex placed on her by a witch.

After taking down this werewolf, Grimm and Velou find themselves working together to take down a couple more werewolves that are threatening the village. Since Velou has decided he wants to protect the village, Grimm tries to use this opportunity as a learning experience. While things don’t go entirely to plan, it seems like everything works out… until an event happens that forces Velou to leave the village. Velou decides he wants to become a hunter, and the volume ends with Velou just starting out at a grueling training camp for hunter candidates.

After reading The Hunters Guild: Red Hood Volume One, I felt that Kawaguchi did a great job of establishing Velou and Grimm as characters, as well as the interactions and relationship these two have. The first five chapters of the series build the foundation for the story, and these chapters effectively establish basically everything the reader needs to know about the world, the story, and the characters before Velou sets off to become a hunter.

In the sixth chapter, the reader is introduced to two new characters: Tylty and Mylty, a set of siblings who already attempted the hunter training camp once and failed. The two of them join Velou for the next session of the training camp. With the introduction of these new characters, it’s established that the hunter training camp is quite grueling, and that only a very small percentage of each group goes on to become hunters. Considering Velou’s skills are limited, it sets the stage for Velou to potentially not make it through the camp. The training camp is just getting going as Volume One ends, so I feel confident that the focus of Volume Two will be on the training camp and whether Velou can become a hunter with his first attempt. I really don’t have a whole lot to say about the character of Tylty and Mylty yet, since they were introduced so late in the volume. The only other major character introduced in this volume is Debonair, the instructor of the training camp. Her appearances in the final chapter make it clear that she’s going to be a tough instructor.

Ultimately, The Hunters Guild: Red Hood is a story that sees a young person, who has lived in one place all their life, go through tragedy (or, in this case, multiple tragedies) and be forced to go on an adventure in order to become a hero. While this may be a standard setup for a “hero’s journey” story, the series still manages to make it interesting and not simply feel like yet another take on the hero’s journey.

When it comes to the art, I find it to be a mixed bag. There are some great panels with a lot of detail in here, and they look great. There are some panels, especially ones that feature Velou, that aren’t as detailed and make me think of some of the look and expressions that I’ve seen in the My Hero Academia manga. This kind of makes sense, though, since prior to this manga, Kawaguchi served as an assistant to Kohei Horikoshi, the creator of My Hero Academia.

Overall, I found myself enjoying this volume and I would be interested in reading the next one in the series if VIZ Media makes a digital review copy available to reviewers. If you’re a manga reader who enjoys fantasy stories featuring a young protagonist going on a “hero’s journey,” then you’ll probably like The Hunters Guild: Red Hood Volume One.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media