Jiro Azuma is a 17-year-old wanna-be-ninja being trained by his grandfather to take up the ninja mantle. He can also talk to animals. He's super fast, reckless, strong, and he has a pure heart. When black cat Rago comes along emaciated and weak, Jiro saves him and nurses him back to health. Turns out, Rago isn't a typical cat; he's a mononoke, an "evil" spirit who should be concentrating on killing humans. Rago is attacked by a demon, and of course Jiro comes to his aid, only to be stabbed through the chest with a giant claw. Reluctantly, Rago fuzes with Jiro to save his life. Now, an elite squad, known as Black Torch, with the mission to kill mononoke, become interested in Jiro, and both Jiro and Rago must prove that they can be useful to the Black Torch's mission.
I'm going to point out my personal bias in that I love cats, so to have a sarcastic cat as one of the main characters makes my day. Jiro is also a great character, even though he is the tough-guy stereotypical-teenage-boy motif that is popular in Shonen manga. The rest of the Black Torch team isn't really introduced until the second volume, but they are also great characters with some complicated backstories and motivations. Takaki's art is detailed and can be quite beautiful even though this is a dark subject matter.
VIZ's rating for this one is teen plus, which is for the violence and gore involved in fighting mononoke, cigarette usage, and mild language. There isn't as much violence and gore in this series as other popular manga (looking at you Tokyo Ghoul and Attack on Titan), so I don't necessarily agree with the "plus" in this rating.
Sara's rating: 9/10
Suitability level: Grades 9-12
Tags: Rating: 9/10, Suitability: High School, Manga, Demons, Horror
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