As far as otaku-ness is concerned I’m still a noob for manga, reading it for as many months as I have digits to count them, but even I know potential when I see it.NB: Me and MS Paint like copyright rules, so together we made a few changes so not to ruin Jiu Jiu for you but still let you experience the beauty.
I first came across Jiu Jiu by Touya Tobina back in July when I was perusing Waterstones’ bookshelves waiting for a friend. I have a rule where I can look, but not buy. However, I made contact with the skilfully drawn eyes of Takamichi, Snow and Night and instantly fell in love. It seemed fate had made me arrive 15 minutes early, and for those 15 minutes I couldn’t put the book back on the shelf.
Next thing I knew I was turning the black and white pages of shadows and detail on the seats outside the store. Jiu Jiu was mine. (NB I did pay, I don’t mean I just ran out the shop.)
Jiu Jiu is a supernatural tale for ‘older teens’, printed by Viz Media as part of Shojo Beat. Like all manga it retails at £6.99 in the UK but Amazon is a good place for those willing to wait an extra day to save some pennies. It follows the life of Takamichi, the eldest daughter of a hunter clan that kill bad monsters (you know the drill) and is given two ‘jiu jiu’ guardians who take the form of wolves.
They aren’t werewolves, but shifters: Half human, half ‘S-class dangerous monster’ wolf. Takamichi is central to a prior story of heartbreak and despair (aren’t all manga heroines?) making her a strong, independent type, but cold and distant. Snow and Night grow fast, and in the three years they belong to Takamichi prior to the start of the story, their human bodies resemble the same age as her 17 year old self. And you know how much manga loves Japanese high school right? Yep.
There haven’t been any incidents of wolf sightings at school just yet, though their under-developed social skills have them asking to be taken for a walk with ‘a rope round my neck.’ It’s adorable and done with clean artwork. I assume it will happen at some point, but at the moment Ms Tobina has plenty of mischievous shenanigans for the pair to enrage their mistress. And oh how she enrages.
Like all manga (that I have seen anyway) the artwork becomes more my ability with stick men-sequel diagrams, but not as often as I saw in Fruits Basket. There are a lot of close up drawings, for a story about an emotionally distant character, Tobina certainly lets you get up close and personal with the cast. Even with Ms Tobina herself, the author panels that fall on some secret pages give you an insight into the amazing mind that gave creation to Jiu Jiu.
I had to wait four months for Jiu Jiu two. As an impatient woman it was hard, and I had to fill my days with boring things like work and food and sleeping. It arrived yesterday (Saturday, October 27) and I couldn’t help but squeal with joy. The book was definitely worth the wait. The same beauty is there in the lines and the detail, and the comedy and serious storyline is still entwined with each other.
And pig vampire. Oh my, if you, like me, fell hard for the first instalment of Jiu Jiu, prepare for your heart not to beat properly anymore. This series is set to be a firm favourite in the otaku and the noob world. As long as I have money Ms Touya, you will always have work. Now to wait until January 17 for my preorder of Jiu Jiu 3 to arrive… and then April for Jiu Jiu 4…
When you have read one and two enough to take a break, remember to send your gratitude to the mistress. All correspondence goes through her Selkie.