Kagetora Vol. 6-7 (Del Rey)

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kagetora-header.jpgThe titular lovelorn ninja may have women inexplicably hurling themselves at him, but he still pines for the love of his student Yuki.



191 pgs. ea. B&W; $10.95 ea.

(W / A: Akira Segami)


The cover to Kagetora Vol. 6. Click for a larger image.Kagetora is a headstrong, feckless ninja, pledged to protect and train Yuki, the beautiful teenaged heir to the Toudou family martial arts dynasty. Naturally, seeing as how he's a fairly typical teenage boy (apart from those preternatural ninja abilities), he's fallen in love with his student. Yuki has a crush on him, too, but tragically, the age-old plot device of massive class difference keeps them apart.


Despite Kagetora's enduring love/lust for Yuki, Kagetora generally follows the formula of a classic "harem" storyline. In Vol. 6, Yuki's friend Aki randomly needs someone to pose as her boyfriend, and turns to Kagetora for help. For their "date," Kagetora eschews his usual hair gel, a move that, coupled with his usual ninja gallantry, spontaneously makes Aki crush hard. Of course, this plot development is completely ignored when Yuki and Kagetora randomly indulge in a fifteen-page swimsuit escapade, then leave town to visit Yuki's grandmother at her summer home. Naturally, grandma disapproves of how close her granddaughter has become to her ninja attendant, and forces Kagetora to prove his loyalty to the family. Yawn.


The cover to Kagetora Vol. 7. Click for a larger image.Vol. 6 wraps up with the introduction of Nao, a tomboyish vixen who recruits Kagetora to join the school archery club. Naturally, in Vol. 7, Nao falls for Kagetora, randomly inventing excuses to sleep in his bed. She becomes a conniving foil for Yuki, who finds herself playing second fiddle to Kagetora's new hobby. Of course, Kagetora remains utterly clueless, focused only on winning the archery tournament. The volume is rounded out by a bonus story in which Kagetora's ancestor protects Yuki's ancestor, in which we learn that apparently the whole Toudou clan is hot for ninja.


Judging from these two volumes, there are several things wrong with Kagetora. First, the art is overly cartoonish, so much so that it's hard to see why anyone would be attracted to these characters. Second, Kagetora himself is ridiculously passive and clueless, to the point where it's hard to take the story's emphasis on his ninja honor seriously. Women hurl themselves at him for no apparent reason, and he reacts with confusion and single-minded devotion to whatever random task they've invented for him to complete. He's not believable as a ninja, not compelling as a romantic lead, and tragically, author/artist Akira Segami seemingly lacks the ability to exploit his hero's ineptitude for laughs. | J. Bowers

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