Zombie Powder Volume 1
By Tite Kubo
Publisher: Viz Media
Rating: T+ (Older Teen)
Somewhere in the desert are the 12 Rings of the Dead. Anyone who can find all 12 can have the mysterious Zombie Powder, a substance that can raise the dead or give eternal life. Those who seek the rings are called Powder Hunters. One of these hunters is named Gamma Akutabi, a man with a metal hand, a 6-foot chainsaw and a price on his head. He rolls into Blue Note seeking information on the rings when he runs into Elwood, a young down-on-his-luck pickpocket who is desperately trying to earn money to cure his sister’s heart condition. Together, they set out to find the mysterious Rings of the Dead that can either give new life to Elwood’s sister, or make Gamma absolutely invincible.
This is the first manga series by the man that would later go on to give us Bleach, so you pretty much know what you’re in for. He’s very clear about it at the beginning of the manga when he says “Mainly it’s all battles. It’s completely OK to just read through it without thinking about anything.” That’s a decent description, at least in part, but it’s not just battles, there’s a lot of great humor involved as well. As soon as Gamma gets off the train in Blue Note, everyone comments at the fancy, well-dressed man… who gets his coat stuck in the door and gets dragged behind the train. The story is no great shakes, it’s your generic quest story that’s been done to death in shonen stories. Find the 12 Rings. Find the Dragonballs. You get the drift. What makes it fun is all the comedy, especially the physical comedy, done to Gamma. In their first meeting, Elwood slams Gamma’s head into the bar as he picks his pocket. When Gamma stands up, there’s a fork stuck in his forehead that apparently, he doesn’t notice right away, although everyone else does. That kind of sets the tone throughout the series.
If you’re looking for something that’s not too taxing mentally, but is still a fun roller coaster ride, give Zombie Powder a shot. The story does get more interesting as you go on, but it’s the visual humor that really makes the ride worthwhile.