Itsuwaribito Volume 1

Itsuwaribito Volume 1 by Yuuki Iinuma

Due to tragedy in his past, Utsuho has turned into a pathological liar. He’s grown up in a village of orphans headed by a monk. Utsuho dedicates himself to mastering the tools of trickery. He has a good working knowledge of poisons, bombs, and other dangerous compounds. Bandits come to the orphan village, causing a mass slaughter and even killing the monk that served as Utsuho’s father figure. He lies to the monk as he’s dying, saying that the rest of the children are safe and waiting for him. Utsuho vows to become an Itsuwaribito, someone who lies, cheats, and steals. Utsuho’s version of an Itsuwaribito is someone who saves other people by lying, and he’s determined to save 1000 people to make up for the death of the monk.

Itsuwaribito follows a fairly standard shonen quest formula, but Utsuho’s trickster personality and destructive nature makes him potentially a little bit more interesting than the typical shonen hero. One way of measuring how much you might like Itsuwaribito is to think about the scene in the Princess Bride when Westley faces off against the Sicilian in the Battle of Wits. Utsuho often lies, then lies about lying, then lies about lying about his lies in order to defeat evildoers who previously prided themselves on their trustworthiness. Utsuho’s catchphrases are “I was lying,” “that’s cool,” and “that’s uncool.” He does exhibit some compassion for the downtrodden, as his first rescue is a orphaned talking Tanuki, giving him the animal sidekick that seems to accompany at least thirty-five percent of all shonen heroes. His next mission is to save the brother of a girl who has joined a gang in order to support his family, challenging the gang leader to a “duel of lies.” Utsuho is a cool antihero, but his origin as an orphan haunted by tragedy is a little too conventional for me. I was amused by his fighting methods. While he sometimes gets physical, he’s more likely to bring horrible destruction on his opponent by bluffing them with a random object that sometimes might be a bomb or poison capsule, and sometimes might be something entirely different. Itsuwaribito was definitely entertaining, but I’m not quite sure if I’d want to start reading it regularly. I’d probably check out the next volume just to see if the story gets more interesting once it moves beyond the set-up stage. I did enjoy Iinuma’s art quite a bit. There’s a delicate, light aspect to the art which ends up contrasting with the violence of the action scenes, making this more interesting to look at than I was expecting. Itsuwaribito is a Shonen Sunday title and I think like the other recent release Kurozakuro, it will appeal to older readers who are ready for some moral ambiguity and cynicism in their shonen fighting manga.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

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