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Written by Ross Locksley on 14 Jan 2009

Distributor Tabella • Author/Artist Gruff79 • Price £7.99

Set in a future England where crime goes almost unchecked on the public streets, Hiyama charts the destiny of the titular family - trained throughout the generations as fighters for justice, the reluctant Mei finds her beliefs altered by a criminal act that will see her take the road of bloody vengeance against those who wronged her.

I was somewhat surprised by Hiyama. There was a vein of humour running through it that may not have been intentional, but still makes the book a lot more enjoyable - my personal favourite is when Grandpa Hiyama breaks a child-molesters spine and then tells him not to worry as he'll call an ambulance - cold comfort really!

I had to think about the standards by which I judge this book. Clearly it's an early work of Gruff79's and the artwork is a bit rough around the edges, which leads me to be more leniant. However, the book carries a professional pricetag, so I have to be realistic.

Firstly, the style won't appeal to everyone. The artwork doesn't carry a strong manga influence in the traditional sense - the visual cues are far more Western independant in style than Japanese - there's a distinct lack of manga style proportions on the limbs, and the art style reminds me far more of Eastman and Laird's early Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles than any manga I've read recently outside of Tekkon Kinkreet, another title which took Eastern elements and mixed them into a heavily inked Western style.

The narrative also lacks a little polish, though it flows well enough to carry the story through. If the artist continues to hone his skills, he could go on to achieve some excellent results, and this book could become quite the collectors item. Taking the book on its own merits, it faces stiff competition from authentic manga (something most Mahnwa titles suffer from), but if you're looking for something a bit more "street" this could be right up your alley.

A solid start, but lacks polish in both flow and writing. Some more practice could see some excellent results though.

Ross Locksley
About Ross Locksley

Ross founded the UK Anime Network waaay back in 1995 and works in and around the anime world in his spare time.


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