cover image Basilisk Volume 1

Basilisk Volume 1

Masaki Segawa, . . Del Rey, $13.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-345-48270-9

This mature readers manga follows a battle between rival ninja clans that doesn't shy away from blood, graphic violence or nudity. The Tokugawa clan is using ninjas for a 10-against-10 battle to determine who will be the next leader of the family. Of course, there's a star-crossed couple in love, with the boy from one clan, the girl from another, torn apart by the war between their families. But for most of the book, freakish characters with astounding abilities engage in one-on-one showdowns lovingly crafted with excruciating fascination. One ninja resembles a spider with a short, bulbous body, spindly limbs, and spit that sticks like the most powerful glue; several have rubberlike bodies that allow them to extend their limbs or squeeze from tight spaces; a third is limbless but can slither faster than a snake and hides a spear in his throat. Segawa is a rising artistic star in Japan, and his art is well rendered and highly detailed, with a great deal of attention to the grotesqueries of the ninja's powers. Based on a novel series popular in Japan, and with an anime series on its way, this should find a solid audience here. (May)