Ayashimon Volume One introduces the main protagonist, Maruo, and how he becomes involved with the Ayashimon criminal underworld of Japan.

Ayashimon Volume One
Written by: Yuji Kaku
Publisher: Shueisha Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: March 7, 2023

The volume opens with the death of Chairman Kioh of the Enma Syndicate, the largest criminal organization in the Kanto Region. But this isn’t just a regular criminal organization… this organization is made up of Ayashimon, otherworldly creatures and spirits. With the death of Chairman Kioh, the otherworldly criminal organizations are now on the brink of war.

We are then introduced to Maruo, a young man who wanted to be come a manga protagonist when he grew up. From a young age, he went through the stereotypical training that’s shown for shonen manga protagonists, and he managed to develop superhuman strength. After being rejected from various dojos and employers for causing too much damage, he comes across what appears to be a young girl being chased by a group of tough-looking thugs. After beating up most of the thugs, he rescues the girl.

It turns out the girl he’s rescued is Urara, the illegitimate daughter of Chairman Kioh who is out seeking revenge for her father’s death. After being cornered by the remaining Ayashimon and having the fight of his life, Maruo decides to make a pact with Urara and become her bodyguard.

First, we see the two of them sneaking into the Shinjuku district and having to take on Hashihime, Urara’s former attendant. Unfortunately, since Maruo still can’t control his strength, he causes a lot of damage that doesn’t escape the notice of Doppo Akari, the new chairman of the Enma Syndicate.

After this, they go to a restaurant, where they witness an Ayashimon being bullied by another one. Even though Urara tells him not to interfere, Maruo doesn’t listen… and ends up causing a commotion that once again attracts the attention of the Enma Syndicate.

After saving Ten, the Ayashimon who was being bullied, they are taken to the building where Ten works as a slave laborer for another Ayashimon. Urara hopes to take over the building as a headquarters, but Maruo takes on the boss and causes more damage and chaos due to his inability to control his power. Even so, Urara can still find the information she needs about the current Enma Syndicate and formulate a plan of attack. Unfortunately, thanks to Maruo’s actions getting the two of them noticed, they are found by the new head of the Enma Syndicate. The volume ends just as Maruo and Doppo are about to start a fight.

When it comes to the art, you can definitely feel the shonen vibe in the way Kaku draws his characters. There were some panels of Maruo early on that kind of made me think of Monkey D. Luffy in the pre-timeskip portion of One Piece. However, I would say that Kaku’s style overall tends to lean more toward Tite Kubo’s than to Eiichiro Oda’s. But Kaku’s art style works perfectly with the supernatural story he’s telling in this series.

While Ayashimon Volume One establishes an interesting premise and promises that there should be plenty of action, thanks to Maruo’s strength, there are times when the action is bogged down by a lot of exposition to explain various ideas and concepts. I understand that the volume needs to include explanations for the reader to understand what’s happening, but there were several times when the exposition breaks up the action sequences and it felt as if it was bogging down the manga. I hope that in future volumes of the series, since there shouldn’t be as much of a need for exposition and info dumps, that the action sequences will feel as if they’re going at a more normal pace.

Maruo is definitely all brawn and little brain. He’s not quite as strong as Saitama from One-Punch Man, since Maruo doesn’t easily defeat his opponents with just one punch. However, Maruo does possesses superhuman strength. From an observation Urara makes during Volume One, it appears there’s a reason why he’s a human that can be this strong. Hopefully, future volumes will expand on that idea, since I would assume that at some point, Maruo will get some kind of character development during the series. When it comes to Urara, while she seems to get a slight more development in Volume One than Maruo does, it still feels like we only know her more on a surface level at this point. I also hope to see more character development for her as well in future volumes of the series.

After reading Volume One, I can say that Ayashimon isn’t a bad series, but it does seem like it’s taking a little bit for it to get going. Hopefully, with the volume ending right before Maruo and Doppo start their fight, that means that the second volume will get going with the action right away. At this point, I wouldn’t be adverse to reading the next volume of Ayashimon if VIZ Media makes a digital review copy available for reviewers.

Manga readers who enjoy shonen manga and supernatural elements may find something to appreciate in Ayashimon Volume One.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media