The Hunters Guild: Red Hood GN 1 – Review

You all know the story of Little Red Riding Hood, and you might even know the story of Peter Stumpp, one of the first werewolves. The two are brought together here in this title of one of the Kohei Horikoshi‘s (of my hero academia fame) former assistants – The Hunters Guild: Red Riding Hood is a shonen action series rooted in the lore of werewolves and the fairy tale known as ATU333.

It’s certainly a combination that makes sense. Over the years, Red’s story has evolved and changed into a much more active (and sometimes sexier) character, and early European variants make it clear that the wolf is, in fact, a werewolf. . in the version recorded and presumed to be the oldest French version, the specific word used is “bzou”, a French middle word for loup-garou. Charles Perrault, meanwhile, it is abundantly evident that the “wolf” is merely a metaphor for a man; with both that and the fact that 17th century French slang for the loss of virginity was “to see the wolf”, Yuki Kawaguchi operates in sonic literary territory.

The two werewolves and Little Red Riding Hood also lend themselves surprisingly easily to the shōnen action formula, which in this case takes Velou, a young peasant, and sets him on the path to becoming a hunter. It’s not a role he’s ever considered in a professional sense, despite his abiding hatred of werewolves. It’s because of his equally strong sense of duty: after he was orphaned as a small child, the villagers band together to raise Velou, and he feels he owes them to stay in their hamlet to protect them. Although no one tells him anything about this plan, a plot later revealed implies that perhaps at least one village member thought it was not in Velou’s best interest. However, they weren’t willing to say anything, maybe because Velou doesn’t look much older than thirteen or fourteen if that.

Kawaguchi clearly understands the story’s source material, which seems to be mostly The Brothers GrimmATU333’s version, as well as the German werewolf lore. This can be seen in the different roles the characters play in the story: we have Grimm herself as Little Red Riding Hood, obviously, but Granny becomes the wolf, and the inclusion of a magic ax alludes to the figure of the woodcutter which does not appear in other earlier European variants of the tale. There is also a separate big bad wolf in the character of Lycaon, whose name not only refers to a mythical Greek king who fed Zeus the roasted flesh of his son, but is also the species name of a wild dog breed, two elements that correspond to the character of Lycaon. admirably. There is also a riff on the famous “What big teeth you have!” conversation that is well slipped into action. The key idea is that werewolves occur when a human mutates to crave human flesh, eventually taking on a monstrous wolf form that they can hide to hunt more effectively. While it’s not strictly part of most werewolf folklore, it works well here and helps establish the story as its own thing rather than just a retelling of a more well-known body of literature.

Most of the volume’s story takes place in the small mountain village of Velou. This segment does a great job of establishing the mythology of the world while allowing us to get to know Velou and Grimm in a more confined setting before he sets out to try to become a hunter himself. Naturally, he first demonstrates great ability, and just as naturally, he finds himself in an intense training camp, from which few aspirants will ever emerge. While this is a fairly typical action fantasy shōnen, it’s also a well-made action fantasy shōnen, and aside from the ridiculous chest sizes, it doesn’t lean too much on the sexualization of female characters. (Or the male characters, for that matter.) Grimm’s gimmick – she can become an adult for a few hours after a curse dooms her to a child’s body for eternity – serves primarily to allow her to to be a more amazing hunter. While this is an old, stale trope that we’ve seen a lot before, it’s also used here to allow him to better guide Velou on his path.

The story art is lively, with many cluttered pages and panels full of delicate details. While reading can be exhausting, it’s not a deal breaker. The way the werewolves are drawn is a big plus: they have an almost Dr. Seuss look, part Seussian nightmare and part 1940s. goofy tunes character and the few half-wolf half-human panels are very effective. There are some odd clothing and hairstyle choices, but even with its bustle, the art is much more of a plus than a minus.

The use of folklore — and a great plot twist on the final page — helps it stand on its own two feet. If you don’t care for shōnen action, this might not work for you, but between the Seussian werewolf designs and nods to various fairy tales, it’s an interesting start for a series that could be a lot of fun.

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