Choujin X Volume One is a new manga series from Sui Ishida, the creator of Tokyo Ghoul.

Choujin X Volume One
Written by: Sui Ishida
Publisher: Shueisha
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: February 21, 2023

Choujin X is set in 1998, in what is obviously an alternate timeline to our reality. Over half a century earlier, monsters known as Choujin brought about chaos that caused nations to collapse and left locally governed prefectures in their wakes. While there are some respects where people’s lives feel about as normal as ours, there are others where it’s more dystopian.

The main character of the series is a teen boy named Tokio Kurohara. He was bullied as a child but always had his friend Azuma Higashi to stand up for him. Azuma is the son of a police officer, and has always had drilled in him the concept that “shirking justice is an act of cowardice.” Tokio and Azuma team up together to take down criminals they find, with Azuma using his martial arts skills to take down the criminals. Unfortunately, Azuma takes it a little too far one time and breaks both of the villain’s arms. A man wearing a mask approaches the villain and his gang, and injects the villain with a drug to turn him into a Choujin.

When the villain goes out for revenge against Azuma, he uses his new Choujin ability to overwhelm Azuma. Unfortunately, the villain also kills his own buddies, who had had their own Choujin injections in hand but had not used them before they were killed. When Tokio and Azuma realize that they’re outmatched, they decide to take the injections and use them on themselves. It doesn’t affect Azuma at all, but Tokio turns into a Choujin wearing a mask with a beak on it. A lot of the volume spends its time on Tokio as he tries to figure out how to control his Choujin power, as well as trying to hide the fact he has turned into a Choujin from his family.

Right at the beginning of the volume, the reader is also introduced to a farm girl who is on her way to a fair for a crop competition. The plane she’s on is hijacked by a Choujin and crashes near where Tokio and Azuma live. Amazingly, there were 200 survivors, including the girl. She discovers that she acquired some of the hijacker’s Choujin power, and she is taken in by Hoshi Sandek, Yamato’s Choujin Protector in order to train. Tokio and the girl cross paths near the end of the volume, when Tokio is under attack from another Choujin.

I have some familiarity with Ishida’s Tokyo Ghoul series, and while Choujin X bears some similarities to his other title, it feels like this one (at least in its first volume) isn’t quite as dark as Tokyo Ghoul. I felt like there was a little more humor included in Choujin X than in Tokyo Ghoul, but depending on how this story moves forward, this balance of drama and comedy may not last.

I thought that Volume One did a great job of establishing the world the series is set in, the concept of the Choujins, as well as the important characters in the series. I have to admit that at first, I thought the girl on the plane at the beginning of this volume was going to be the main character, but it turned out she wasn’t. Yes, she turns out to be an important character, but she’s not the main character. After being introduced to Tokio and getting to know him, the series makes it perfectly clear that he’s going to be the protagonist.

When it comes to the pacing of Choujin X Volume One, I thought that there was a good mix of exposition and action scenes. For the most part, I found this volume to be a relatively quick read. I also appreciated that Ishida included some bonus content at the end that gives a timeline of the Choujins’ uprising in this alternate timeline, as well as basic information about Choujins. Ishida could have tried to squeeze this information into the actual story, but it would have easily bogged things down. As a reader, I appreciated getting this additional information and not feel as if I was getting hit with an “info dump” in the middle of the story.

When it comes to the art, I can tell that Ishida drew it. That’s not to say that he copied any character designs or elements from Tokyo Ghoul, however. It’s just the basic look of the characters as well as some nuances in the art have enough of a similarity to Tokyo Ghoul that you can tell it was the same artist behind both series.

Choujin X Volume One sees the series off to a good start. Even though this series may not quite be as dark as Tokyo Ghoul, I think that readers who enjoyed that series may potentially find that they also appreciate Choujin X. I know that if VIZ Media makes the next volume of the series available as a review copy, I will gladly read it in order to find out how Choujin X continues.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media