Kappa, Tengu and other Yokai
“Tactics” sat in my “To read someday” pile for far too long mainly because of that cover. A nice looking guy in glasses holding flowers and an umbrella gave me no clue that this comic was full of the creatures of Japanese mythology that I love so much.
Far from being a sweet little moony-eyed comic, we get scenes like one character tearing out another character’s throat with his teeth to get at the hidden yokai bead. This was my first volume of “Tactics,” so I didn’t know all the characters.
However, the continuing story only takes up about one-fourth of the comic. At stage a character picks up a book called “Tales and Illustrations of Yokai to be Seen at Night” and the remainder of the comic is short stories adapted from this collection. That was what really hooked me.
Most of the monsters here are pretty familiar. Kodama, Tengu, Yamabiko, Kapap…but they all have a unique twist. In one of my favorite stories, a kappa comes to town and tries to get a job as waitstaff in a restaurant. When told to treat the customer as a god, the kappa starts bowing to the customer and praying for wealth and prosperity. Another story has a girl who wants to know how she can transform her ordinary cat into a nekomata, and is told that the cat needs to be at least a hundred years old. She tries to speed up the process by teaching the cat how to dance.
There are quite a few more stories like that, some bloody, some funny, some sad. All in all it turned out to be a great book to jump into the middle of a series on, and definitely encouraged me to pick up the earlier volumes.