Most of our readers are probably familiar with Rumiko Takahashi’s longest running series, Inuyasha. It is the story of a young woman named Kagome who time travels through a well to feudal Japan and finds herself all tangled up with demons and curses. Takahashi’s latest manga, Mao, takes these familiar themes and reworks them to craft a new adventure.
Nanoka became an orphan at a young age when a freak accident killed her parents, but left her miraculously unscathed. Years later, a rumor is going around at school that strange noises have been heard coming from that very spot. Nanoka tags along with some of her friends, curious to see if there’s any truth to it. When Nanoka steps through the nearby gate and into the shopping district, she finds herself transported back in time. But something dangerous lurks here. Nanoka’s immediately attacked by an evil yokai masquerading as a human.
Enter Mao. This mysterious man steps in, not because he’s worried about the girl in the weird clothes getting hurt, but because he wants information from the yokai. When he doesn’t get it, he lets the monster die. Mao’s assistant introduces his master as an exorcist. The two investigate suspicious happenings in hopes of obtaining leads to help Mao track down a malicious cat demon known as Byoki. This evil yokai put a curse on Mao and his blade, and he wants to know the reasoning for it.
But now Nanoka has even more questions. He called her an ayakashi as if she’s supposed to understand what that means. And her injured arm is completely healed the next morning. Not only that, she doesn’t feel as frail as her caregivers insist she is day in and day out. She even refuses to drink that awful smoothie they force her to ingest every morning. Something is going on, and Mao might be the only person that can help her make sense of it all.
The story makes it pretty clear in this first manga volume that there is a connection between Mao and Nanoka similar to that of Kagome and Inuyasha. We’ve got a time traveling portal, a curse, a female heroine, and a reluctant male companion to teach her the ropes. Even Mao’s shikigami assistant Otoya gives me some mild Shippo vibes. But we’re not in feudal Japan anymore, which means there’s so much more that Takahashi can do. I’m intrigued to see how Takahashi puts a new spin on yokai in an emerging modern world. This is why I find myself completely on board to take this action-packed, yokai-filled journey with Nanoka, Mao, and Otoya.
Mao manga volume 1 is available. You can read a preview right now on the official Viz website.