Written and Drawn by Yasushi Suzuki
Translated by Daniel Sullivan and Asako Otomo
Adapted by Ailen Lujo
Published by

A young swordsman utterly defeated by a demon gets the bargain offer of a lifetime: promise to collect the swords (and power) of a thousand warriors for the demon, who’s looking for a way to Heaven, and the swordsman will not only have his body repaired, but his physical limits will be stretched to superhuman levels and he’ll even look a bit different. That’s a deal you can hardly blame the boy for taking. But his quest will prove to be quite a bit more difficult than he can imagine, as there are plenty of forces lined up to oppose him, including some of the most powerful demons in the land.

PURGATORI KABUKI is something different for DrMaster, a manga published in a slightly larger format. The company is one of the less flamboyant manga publishers, choosing (wisely) to focus on its more boutique-sized line of books, and maintaining a nicely strict quality control over the material they put out. Thus it comes as a surprise that they’ve put out a huge miss like this book- it doesn’t happen often.

What’s wrong here? Loads. Suzuki’s art is dark and murky, and his action sequences are nearly incomprehensible. More than 75% of the time, I couldn’t tell what was happening or who was doing what. The figure-work is fine, but you don’t get enough of it to overcome the problems with the rest of the art. Second, the adaptation and translation don’t service the story as well as they should. At the end of the book, there’s a section called “design works” that actually does a far better job of explaining who all of the ancillary characters and foes are than the book itself. Then there’s the issue of the book’s design giving you no incentive to buy it- the back cover has no text copy, and the cover flaps don’t either. That means anyone picking this up in the store is going to look at it and have zero clue what it’s actually about.

If you’re interested in trying a DrMaster manga, check out the superior HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS, or a fine series like JUNK. PURGATORI KABUKI is definitely one to avoid.

Marc Mason