Manga Reviews

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Houshin Engi

Houshin Engi
Scanslated by Snoopycool
IRC Channel: #snoopycool @
23 Volumes (Completed)

This manga is based off a very famous Chinese myth, set in 11th century BC China, during the Yin dynasty. At this time there were two worlds, the Sennin world where the "gods" lived, and Earth, where humans lived. For the most part the Sennins kept to themselves, rarely interfering with human life. However one powerful Sennin, named Dakki decided to break that trend. She went down to Earth and used her powerful magic to seduce the king of China, Young Chuuoh. She then used her place of power and called forth her comrades. Other evil Sennin quickly assumed various positions of leadership.

Their extravagant and brutal ways decimated the lives of the peasants, who were constantly being killed or forced to pay ever higher taxes. One family which was killed had a son named Taikoubou. He had the abilities that 1 in 1 million people had, so he was chosen by the Sennins to go up to the Sennin world to train. Unfortunately it was his nature to slack off rather than train, so finally the most powerful Sennin gave him a task. Taikoubou was to take the Houshin List (which contained 365 names) and defeat each of the special people marked on it. When he does this, those spirits will be sealed away forever, unable to reincarnate. And so, Taikoubou is forced off on a journey to seal the people on the list. But who are all these people? Why are some good people on the list? And can Taikoubou defeat Dakki, one of the most powerful sennin ever?

Portions of this manga follow the stereotypical fighting manga premise, with multiple chapters spanning epic one on one duels. However the thing that differentiates this from many other fighting mangas is that Taikoubou spends a lot of his effort avoiding fights via guile, rather than actively partaking in them.

The background art is very simplistic, often mostly filled with images of the sky and clouds. The character designs are extremely peculiar, with oblong heads, huge hands, and gigantic shoes. Some people will be put off by this, as I was initially, but eventually it grows on you. The characters are well thought out, with each one consistently acting his or her role, rather than some series where the characters switch sides at a drop of a hat. The backstories for everyone except Taikoubou and Dakki are a bit lacking. I would have enjoyed it if the story was fleshed out a bit more at the expense of plot progression, which sometimes moves at too brisk a pace.

The core plot is very entertaining, as compared with most fighting mangas. In most mangas of this genre, the opponent is already known and the goal is to fight through the opponent's "guards" to get to him and defeat him. However Houshin Engi takes plenty of twists and turns, leaving you constantly questioning who the true evil is, and what various people's motivations really are. Its not as elaborate as a mystery manga but that constant touch of doubt is refreshing.

Rating: 7.5/10.0


  • At first glance, this seemed to be a fighting manga with a fairly simple, straightline plot. After I read more, I began to see more intricate plot lines. I was also very entertained with Taikoubou's personality and the way he was portrayed. There were some slow points, but quite often the main plot of the story progressed very quickly. I too would have enjoyed a little more backstory for the other charcters. The character designs were to well done for them to not be filled out more. This seemed like a waste to me. As the manga progressed, it kept alluding to another, more powerful enemy, leaving the readers to wonder who the true enemy really was. This leads to several plot twists, as we see learn what motivation lies behind the actions of the characters involved, and which side they are really on. All in all, I really enjoyed this manga. Great review Kar!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:11 AM  

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