By Dustin Cabeal
Having never read this series, this was probably the best/worst place to start. Volume 20 of Itsuwaribito is a huge payoff volume. This is the volume people having been waiting for over the course of the last nineteen volumes. It wraps up a huge storyline, but then also sets things in motion for the next big chapter of the story. That’s why it was a good place to start reading randomly.
Why it’s a bad place is that I now have little reason to go back and read the other volumes. I am hooked on the series though and would gladly read going forward, but yeah, reading the payoff volume killed any motivation or reason to go back to the beginning.
Itsuwaribito is a very shonen story involving samurais, ninjas and a lot of swordplay. The characters all seem to have extra abilities of sorts which come out during battle making for some great fights. Now, for some that haven’t read Itsuwaribito, you probably think this is a Naruto clone, but it’s not. It’s a period piece actually, and that makes it stand out. That and no one is charging up blast balls or anything like that. Their abilities really tie-in and relate to the swordplay.
Even with this being the first volume I read, it was easy to see the character development that’s gone into this series. Yuuki Iinuma is skilled at storytelling and controlling the pace. None of the battles lingered for two long, and they all had a nice flow with the action. The pace and narration are what shined the brightest in that you never want to put the volume down, and the narration gives you natural feeling insight into the characters. I’ve jumped onto plenty of manga without knowing anything about the story or characters, and it still took me a few volumes to figure out who was who, but it was easy with Itsuwaribito, which just goes to show the skill of the storyteller.
The art seems typical of the genre, but for whatever reason, I enjoyed it so damn much. The only gripe I had with the art was the shrunken “previous” panels that were used for flashbacks. I don’t care for that ever, but that was the only problem I had with the art. Otherwise, it was detailed, crisp, not overshadowed and had rich and full backgrounds.
If this is your first time hearing about this series which is a part of the Sunday Shonen line, then start at the beginning. If you do just want to start here, that’s fine; you’ll be stuck with me, waiting for the next story arc and wondering what could happen. If you’ve been reading this series, good on you, it’s a hell of a find, and while it follows the Shonen formula perfectly, it shows why that formula produces so much success.
Creator: Yuuki Iinuma
Publisher: Viz Media/Shonen Sunday