I love discovering new graphic novels and there is a variety of books for all types of readers. When seeking out graphic novels I decided to check out Issunboshi by Ryan Lang. Here are my thoughts on this graphic novel from Oni Press!
Synopsis: In feudal Japan where creatures of myth and folklore are real, a demon sets out to reforge an ancient weapon to take over the world. The only person who can stop him is a six-inch-tall would-be samurai, who also happens to be the final and most important piece of the weapon.
Review: For readers that enjoy folktales or retellings of classic stories, Issunboshi is a graphic novel that I recommend you add to your reading list. Following a simple format, the graphic novel carefully crafts a new spin on the Japanese classic tale by introducing the story to a whole new audience of readers.
In this folktale an older, long childless couple wishes for a son and are given a boy who is one-inch tall (hence the name Issunboshi) Though his parents raised him very lovingly, he never grew any taller and as he got older he grew restless to see the world around him. Issunboshi wonders if he has a greater purpose, but soon evil arrives at his home and seeks to destroy everything he loves. In order to protect his loved ones he goes off on a journey to find his place in the world and defeat a fierce oni (demon) who wants to use Issunboshi’s powers. With a needle as a sword and great courage within, he is determined to take down the oni once and for all.
This is a graphic novel whose story will speak to all readers. It’s entertaining due to the action-packed scenes, characters, and adventure elements. But most of all at the story’s core it’s a narrative about believing in yourself no matter what obstacles may come your way. As the book’s blurb states “one is not born a hero –– you must discover the courage to become one”.
Though a fast-paced story I felt the author, Lang, does a solid job of introducing the folktale, exploring the character’s development over the course of the story, all the while keeping it entertaining. The story has a simple format and a much heavier emphasis is placed on the art.
The artwork is incredibly breathtaking! Even from the first few panels, I knew I was in for a visual experience. The attention to detail in showing the view from Issunboshi’s eyes to the deep emotion on the character’s faces. Lang is so incredibly talented with his artwork and has worked on Disney, Dreamworks Animation, Sony Pictures Animation, and MARVEL Studios projects which shows in this graphic novel. I would re-read this story over and over again just to gaze at the artwork!
This is a recommended read for readers who love folktales and fantasy stories Issunboshi gets a 4 out of 5 stars rating from me!
*I received this manga from Oni Press in exchange for a fair and honest review.