Jiu Jiu Volume 1 by Touya Tobina
I’m always curious when a new title is added to the Shojo Beat imprint, since Shojo Beat titles make up a majority of my reading list. I’m also happy to see that in Jiu Jiu we have a title with a quirky heroine, a general trend I am happy to see reflected in many of the recently translated manga series. Jiu Jiu looks like a promising shoujo twist on the monster hunting manga genre.
Takamichi is born into a family of Dark Hunters. When her twin brother is killed, she’s the sole heir. For companionship, she’s given a pair of Jiu Jiu – familiars who can switch form from wolf to human. In human form, Snow and Night are handsome teenage boys, but they’re really only three years old. Takamichi’s life becomes even more complicated when Snow and Night decide that they are going to start attending school with their mistress. As a heroine, Takamichi is harsh and guilt-ridden. She’s haunted by her brother’s death and often deals harshly with Snow and Night because she doesn’t want to get close to anybody. Takamichi also has a strong sense of duty, fulfuling her duties as a monster hunter while not wanting her Jiu Jiu to come along with her because she doesn’t want them to get hurt. This is the source of the main tension in the book, because Snow and Night want to be with their mistress at all times. Their names reflect their appearance and personalities, with Snow being pale with a bright and playful personality, while Night has a darker complexion and is more reserved and intuitive.
Visually, Jiu Jiu is dense with sometimes little transitions between scenes. It required more of my concentration to read than usual, and might have benefited from being a tad more sparse. The art style made me wonder if Tobina was somehow a Frankenstein mangaka created from mashing together Arina Tanemura and Hakase Mizuki. It was an interesting contrast reading Kaze Hikaru right after Jiu Jiu, because the two manga couldn’t be more different in terms of the art. One of the things I always appreciate in manga is an artist with an individualistic style, and Tobina’s thin line and the stylized spindly limbs of her characters emphasizes the animalistic nature of the Jiu Jiu. She switches back and forth between kawaii howling wolf pups and the demons that Takamichi faces. The first volume of Tobina’s other manga, Clean Freak Fully-Equipped had a similar focus on a protagonist with psychological issues. The combination of haunted heroine, stylized art, and a potentially interesting twist on monster hunting manga has me looking forward to the next volume.
Review copy provided by the publisher.