I remember trying to read Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys years ago and not really getting into it. I didn’t think it was bad or anything, just not for me. I even said as much to a few of my fellow bloggers. Well, am I ever ready to eat my words. I decided to give the first volume another chance and got absolutely captivated by it. I’m now impatiently waiting for the rest to come back in stock so I can finish the story.

And because of my newfound love for the author, I figured I would amuse myself in the meantime by reading his other works. I know I’ve wanted to get my hands on monster forever but I started with the much easier single-volume story: Mujirushi.

Why I Picked up Mujirushi

Not only was I interested in the author but the fact that the story was complete in a single volume was a big selling point. Moreover, it seemed to be telling the tale of a museum heist and that’s always a good time.

Official Summary

From award-winning author Naoki Urasawa comes a tale of crushing debt, a broken marriage, and the painting that can fix it all—if Kasumi and her dad can manage to steal it.

Kamoda will do anything to earn a quick buck, even if it means skipping out on his taxes to take his wife on a luxury cruise. But when a random tax audit bankrupts his family, Kamoda soon discovers his wife has taken that cruise after all—only without Kamoda or their daughter Kasumi.

Desperate to provide, Kamoda invests in a scheme to mass-produce masks of controversial American presidential candidate Beverly Duncan. But a lackluster election kills their sales potential, burying Kamoda under a mountain of masks and debt. On the verge of despair, Kamoda discovers a sign that leads him to the Director, an art fanatic who vows he can make all of Kamoda and Kasumi’s dreams come true.

My First Impression

Oh, I hope this isn’t sad

What I liked

Actually, I liked the book a lot. Probably more than the average person judging from AniList.

One of the fun little aspects for me, that might not be as fun for others, is that the manga is pretty bilingual. There is a lot of French throughout that’s translated in the margins but kept in the actual panels. And it’s good French. I don,t know who did the translation but they actually took as much care in the English dialogue as in the French one which is distinctly Parisian sounding. I had a blast going back and forth.

The story is kind of a hero’s journey with an epic romance as a backdrop. And even though it ultimately doesn’t conclude with the artifice you would expect, I think that makes it even better. Admittedly, the love story is only hinted at or revealed in the folds between the action. We don,t even meet both parties involved. However despite that, or more likely because of it, I found it to be one of the more touching and inspiring romances I have read in recent years.

I also very much enjoyed the main relationship of Mujirushi which happens to be a father-daughter exploration, so little surprise there. Kamoda, the father character, is portrayed as a very flawed but ultimately admirable man. The text doesn’t shy away from making him seem pathetic at times yet he remains a good father and ultimately kind person even in those moments which creates a nice complexity that isn’t often explored. And actual everyman.

In fact, most of the characters are interesting in their own way.

The descriptions and just images of Paris really brought me back to when I use to live there. There is a great sense of place and time throughout Mujirushi, and it grounds the story and gives it substance.

Any drawbacks?

Like I said, I enjoyed this manga more than most. The only true criticism I have is that it might have been a bit too short. I think it needed a chapter or two more. I really enjoyed the ending. I think the events were fantastic and I remember closing the book one evening with a huge smile on my face and going on to happy sunshine dreams.

But I can’t deny that the ending felt a bit rushed. As if the author suddenly realized he only had so many pages to wrap it up and decided to jump to the final. It’s not so condensed that it doesn’.t make sense or is difficult to follow. But you can clearly see how the pacing ramps up and it doesn’t help the story that much.

The other drawback I could see is that it injects a lot of social commentary on consumer culture and it does seem to be taking a few jabs and the US and more specifically US politics. I had no issue with it but I know some of my readers recoil from that.

Finally, and this is by no means a critique I personally had, I guess you could call it uneventful. I wouldn’t say so myself but at the end of the day, not that much happened. There aren’t any huge action sequences, no chase scenes or guns. Nothing is supernatural. It’s a wacky story that I don,t really think could happen but then again… So if you’re looking for fantasy and otherwordly adventures, maybe Mujirushi would disappoint you. I’m not sure, as it wasn’t my experience at all. But in trying to figure out why others didn’t enjoy it as much as I did, I came across a few reviews to that end.

Conclusion

It’s not sad! Not at all! It’s actually really optimistic and hopeful. I found Mujirushi to be both entertaining and endearing in many ways and I enjoyed it thoroughly. If you are tired of cynical stories and want a touch of lighthearted cheer, I would recommend this one. I have no clue why it isn’t rated higher.

Leave me a comment and make my day!