Review: Kamen – Vol. 1

Kamen’s story begins with a man waking up in a field with a bad ass mask on. He panics because of the mask on his face, but suddenly a voice starts talking to him via the mask. It tells him to calm down and not to remove the mask because they both die. Already your interest should be piqued. After that we find a caravan of soldiers carting prisoners back to their castle and an introduction to a little girl who just lost her parents. The wind picks up as they approach the masked man in the field. He’s just standing there, but he poses a threat to their leader who is traveling with them. Several guards approach the masked man and one of them shoots an arrow right at the mask. The leader approaches and asks questions about the mask and the man behind it. That’s when the mask starts taking to our mystery man and asking him if he can tell through the energy that the leader is a woman.

Another character we meet also recognizes the mask, but much like the leader he can’t remember where he’s seen it from either. The masked man goes willingly with the soldiers and is handcuffed. As the caravan arrives back at their castle we do learn in fact that the leader is a woman by the name of Lord Simba. One of the prisoners takes in the sites and notices that Lord Simba is using their prisoners for labor rather than killing them… for now at least.

Eventually Simba’s uncle comes and demands that she kill all of the prisoners because they’re about to be at war and they’ll only make her look weak. They decide to start with the little girl from earlier who is presumed dead already. Our masked man breaks his handcuffs and stops the sword with one hand before it hits the girl’s neck. Then he shocks the girl’s chest and brings her back to life and she grabs hold of him and doesn’t let go.

There’s a lot of mystery to this story, but it’s a solid read because of it. We know next to nothing about our masked man; later one someone says he’s the reincarnation of Shisa, but is he? Not even the mask knows. And what is up with the mask? We don’t know yet. Even the battle surrounding the story is a bit of a mystery. It’s almost as if we’ve been dumped into the middle of something, but that works because our main character is in the same boat.

Kamen Vol. 1The story moves at a great pace. This first volume is about 230 pages and they breeze by like nothing. The dialogue is very believable and all the important story information is given to us via the dialogue rather than exposition.

The art is heavy on the action and that’s a very good thing as it’s very clean and easy to follow. There’s a dynamic flair to it that gives the sense of movement. The punches have weight and it all serves to make the masked man look more powerful.

The line work is clean very clean as you would expect from a fantasy based action manga. There’s a lot of detail, but never so much that you can’t see what’s happening on the page. The character designs are very strong and each character has a recognizable design. That may seem simple, but there’s a large cast of characters so being able to recognize who’s talking instantly is important for a reader.

It’s in black & white and almost looks like it was left in the original pencils… almost. It’s very detailed and photorealistic at times. With both of those elements there tends to be a lot of shadowing, but that’s not the case in this volume as the penciling doesn’t overtake the page.

If you like shōnen style stories then this will definitely be something you want to check out. I really enjoyed the main character who never says a word, but then also his talking mask that only he could hear. Kamen has an interesting and unique story and matches that with incredible action sequences, if that sounds like your cup of tea then drink up.

Score: 5/5

Writer/Artist/Creator: Gunya Mihara Publisher: Gen Manga Price: $12.95 Release Date: 9/30/14 Format: TPB