Kurozakuro (vols. 1-2) by Yoshinori Natsume, translated by Camellia Nieh
Here’s a 21st-century spin on the 90-pound weakling who wakes up one day admirably transformed, complete with bulging muscles and confident attitude. That said, check out these covers: this version is not without some menacing twists.
“There’s something called a ‘food chain’ in this world. The strong eat the weak, and humans are supposed to be at the very top. But if there was a pyramid just for humans … I’m pretty sure … I would be at the very bottom.” Meet high schooler Mikito Sakurai, a boy so sweet and unassuming that everyone likes to bully him. After an especially tough day at school, Mikito falls into a deep sleep that night. So exhausted, he doesn’t notice he’s swallowed a glowing ball …
In what he thinks is a dream, he meets a mysterious boy standing in front of a barren tree. The boy, who reveals his name to be Zakuro, will grant Mikito much needed strength; in exchange, Mikito must “cover this tree with flowers.”
When Mikito wakes up, he suddenly doesn’t need his glasses. He’s still hungry after he eats his usual piece of toast. When he arrives at school, he’s plagued by pranks and threats … but this time, Mikito actually fights back. Suddenly, he’s beyond invincible … unfortunately, he barely seems able to control his new strength, coming far too close to hurting even his loved ones.
Confused and desperate over his sudden new temper and the power it unleashes, Mikito goes out for a walk, only to witnesses the destruction of an ogre by the powerful hunter Kugai. Shockingly, Mikito learns that he himself is an ogre-in-the making as long as the mysterious Zakuro inhabits his body. While he escapes Kugai and death that night, Mikito is soon confronted at school by a new student who turns out to be Kugai’s fellow hunter Azami.
With a growing need for fresh human flesh that’s getting harder to quell, Mikito must somehow make peace with both Kugai and Azami, and enlist their help to not turn into an ogre, even as the monstrous ogre population is surging and Zakuro won’t be denied. Mikito’s only hope for survival is to leave all that is familiar behind and join forces with Kugai and Azami in hunting down … well .. his own kind.
The old adage, ‘be careful what you wish for,’ takes on a violent new twist in this gruesome new series … not to mention what’s going to happen when the proverbial ‘good guy’ is harboring a vicious monster within?!
Readers: Young Adult, Adult
Published: 2010, 2011 (United States)
KUROZAKURO © Yoshinori Natsume
Original Japanese edition published by Shogakukan Inc.