REVIEW: ‘Kaiju No. 8,’ Volume 1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Kaiju are great. Defense units set on protecting humanity from kaiju are also entertaining. Oh, and then, of course, there are the people who clean up the streets after the heroism; they need some love too. And to be honest, those are some of the reasons to pick up Kaiju No 8 from mangaka Naoya Matsumoto. This volume is published and localized in English by VIZ Media through its Shonen Jump imprint, translated by David Evelyn, and lettered by Brandon Bovia.

In Kaiju No. 8, Japan has the highest kaiju-emergence rates in the world. The Japan Defense Force, a military organization, tasked with neutralizing kaiju, exists to help keep the kaiju threat managed. But this story isn’t about the defense force, not really. It’s about Kafka Hibino, a kaiju-corpse cleanup man, who’s childhood dream of joining the force was put on the backburner after multiple failed entry exams. With memories of his childhood friend Mina and their pact to join the Japan Defense Force and fight by her side surface again when a young man joins the cleanup crew, Kafka decides to try one more time. There is a catch though, the joy of hearing about an age-raise is marred by one development: Kafka is part kaiju.

On the surface, Kaiju No 8 is like the vast majority of shonen series. Male protagonist develops a power he has to learn to make his own while adjusting to his new life and saving people. While that’s essentially what Kafka does, there is a significant difference, Kafka is 32-years old. Because of his age, his life is nearly set in stone, and ultimately the achievement of his dream is more bitter than a young protagonist with the world at his feet. In fact, Kafka is just an adult working his job that puts him just short of his dream, and it’s relatable. As he reminisces about the promise her made to Mina, knowing she’s actually succeeding, he asks, “How’d I wind up on this side of things?” It’s one moment that captures a longing that comes with adulthood in. away that we don’t often see in shonen manga.

But Kafka isn’t the only great character in Kaiju No. 8. Sure, the fact that he can turn into a kaiju makes him irresistibly complex, given that his dream is to join the task force that kills kaiju. But the supporting cast of the manga is just as amazing, including some fantastic women like Mina, Third Division captain, and Kikoru Shinomiya, the kaiju-killing prodigy. While these two characters are visually interesting when it comes to character design, their strength jumps off of the page in a way that makes them more than just the set dressings like other female characters in shonen.

And if characters aren’t exactly what you’re looking for, Kaiju No 8 brings copious amounts of action of stellar kaiju design. Whether it’s Kafka punching a kaiju in the face or a gun ripping through one, there is a lot of beauty packed into every page. Dynamic fighting and moments that pack in action with emotion at the same time, Kaiju No 8 has a little bit of everything for everyone in the best ways.

Overall, Kaiju No 8 Volume 1 is the best of shonen right now and a volume you need to rush to pick up. If you fall in love and want to read ahead, you can also check out the individual chapters on the Shonen Jump app.

Kaiju No. 8 Volume 1 is available from booksellers now.


Kaiju No. 8 Volume 1
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TL;DR

Overall, Kaiju No 8 Volume 1 is the best of shonen right now and a volume you need to rush to pick up. If you fall in love and want to read ahead, you can also check out the individual chapters on the Shonen Jump app.