Presents Vol 1 by Kanako Inuki Manga Review

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Title:  Presents Vol 1

Author:  Kanako Inuki

Publisher:  CMX

ISBN:  9781401213923

May Contain Spoilers

Though Karumi doesn’t look it, she’s an old woman.  Trapped in a young girl’s body because she never received any presents, she carries with her the bitter memories of her parents forgetting her birthday and her classmates cruelly ignoring it.  Since she’s never opened a present, she’s never aged.  Now she travels from place to place, bestowing presents upon others.  However, her presents are the last thing anyone would ever wish for, as the gifts usually cause a premature end to the recipient’s life!

Presents was a fast read, with episodic chapters featuring greedy, gift-grubbing characters.  Karumi is the only recurring character, and she creepily brings ruin to pretty much everyone she comes across.  Most of the unsuspecting victims of her presents are selfish and petty, and prove that karma can turn around at any time and bite you on the ass.

My biggest complaint with the book is that it’s not really very scary.  Sure, there are some gruesome illustrations here and there, depicting eyeballs popping out of heads or skin melting like candle wax, but the overall feeling that the reader is left with is a touch of indifference.  With the format of the stories, each relatively short and lightning paced, it’s hard to get to know the characters that populate the pages.  Without having an emotional connection to them, it’s hard to get worked up when they meet up with Karumi.  Instead of thinking, “I hate you, open the present!”  or “You aren’t so bad, don’t do it!” I didn’t really care one way or the other as the gifts were strewn about, leaving chaos in their wake.

My favorite story, “Konotori,” wasn’t  even  a horror story.  It was a nice slice of life chapter about an only child who befriends a boy with almost more siblings than others can count.  Though the two only spend a brief time together, they forge a friendship that lasts a lifetime.  And nobody died in the entire span of 20 pages.  Plus, the present was something that someone might actually want!

The art is most notable for the ping-pong ball eyes.  All of those big, buggy eyes were distracting.  The characters reminded me a little of wooden clothing pins because they were really stiff and it looked like everyone had neck trouble.  Maybe it was because their eyes were so large.  The death scenes were fairly entertaining, with mildly gory endings greeting most of those stupid enough to open one of Karumi’s presents.

Not very scary, and somewhat diverting, Presents gives a new twist to the concept of gift giving, one that I hope it doesn’t catch on.

Grade:  C

Rated for Mature

Review copy provided by CMX

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