Story and Art by Akira Toriyama
Released in the US by Viz
Slugline: A main character that is half vampire/were-koala? What does he eat, the juice of a Eucalyptus tree?
Paifu is a half vampire/were-koala that lives in the isolated village of Batwing Ridge, where humans and monsters live together far from the intolerance of the big cities. But all of the kid monsters are afraid of the human that lives on the outskirts of town, Murayama. It turns out that there is a reason that everyone in town avoids Murayama, he was once a sumo wrestler who accidentally killed a competitor in the ring. So despite being called the Volcano and having been famous for being really strong, Murayama exiled himself to Batwing Ridge and even there had little to do with the rest of the village. But when an epidemic of monster flu starts to spread through the village, Paifu convinces Murayama to go with him to get the cure from the witch. Paifu bends the truth a bit along the way, Murayama learns a bit about himself and others, and all have a grand time rescuing the village.
Akira Toriyama is better know for the Dragon Ball saga (reviews here), but here he turns in a perfectly balanced one volume story. Everything here has some meaning and both Paifu and Murayama change and improve themselves and both are forced to stretch themselves. Even the fights are well choreographed, not at all over the top or confusing as it was sometimes with DragonBall, but is still not too intense for the kids that are presumably the audience for this all ages title. It even has a sense of sly, self-aware humor that is funny without ruining the story's illusions. This shows an Akira Toriyama as a creator to be reckoned with, far better than the one that did the early volumes of the DragonBall saga.
Cowa! is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga