Oumagadoki Doubutsuen Manga Quarterly Review
(I just upgraded my computer to Windows x64 (because Windows x32 can`t handle 4 gigs of RAM), so now it`s time to REINSTALL EVERYTHING and LOSE ALL OF MY DATA LET`S GO YEAAAAAAAAAAAAH)
Aoi Hana is a clumsy person who gets a part time job at Oumagadoki Zoo, a tiny zoo on the edge of Ouma City with something like 30 animals in it. The Zoo is broken down and in disrepair, and nobody ever visits the zoo. The eccentric director, Shiina, a man with the habit of wearing a rabbit mask, scares Hana even more, but just as she’s about to run away… the animals start to talk.
By talk, I don’t mean the animals stay as animals and talk. They literally change into human-like forms – for example, the wolf stands upright and gets a human face, the cheetah somehow manages to stand on two feet, and the snake turns into a woman with snakes in her hair. Shiina tells Hana the truth of the matter.
13 years ago, when he was a little boy, Shiina killed a rabbit. The great spirit of the rabbits then cursed him into becoming a rabbit himself, a curse which could only be lifted if he gathered a great number of animals and made it so that the entire world knew their name, demonstrating his love for animals. With the curse came a power – the power to transform animals into human-like forms. In other words, the human became an animal, and the animals became somewhat human.
uh… /somewhat/ human
Hana and Shiina then work together through a variety of scenarios to make Oumagadoki Zoo the BEST ZOO IN THE WORLD!
The manga takes on a character-by-character plot, where every chapter, a new animal is introduced, his problem elaborated, and finally solved. Although Hana is clumsy, she’s also very knowledgeable about many different types of animals, allowing her to figure out a reason to every problem, and then to solve it. Yet, since this is Shounen Jump after all, of course there’s going to be fighting.
Shiina, after becoming a rabbit, gains superhuman (superrabbit) strength, being able to jump enormous distances, break open steel warehouse garage-door-like-things using only two fingers, and bitchslap a lion using the same two fingers. Of course, he also inherits other rabbit-like abilities such as running faster than a cheetah, hiding seventeen carrots in his many orifices simultaneously, and being able to run on water. RUN ON WATER. I SHIT YOU NOT.
Anyways, things happen, and Shiina proves to be a textbook forkspoon – though he seems childish and egocentric (rather, is), he truly cares for the animals at the zoo, because without the zoo, he would stay a rabbit forever. Over the course of the stories, his face briefly changes to a human form when he does a good deed, and after taming the lion in the zoo, he regains the human form of one of his hands. Unfortunately, this should mean that he loses the ability to use that hand to fight, but I guess the mangaka forgot about that – and so he now has superhuman powers in one hand, and superrabbit powers in the other.
You’d expect something as boring as this to be cancelled quite quickly in Jump, and so of course it was cancelled! I mean, of course they’d add more awesome battles into it. Ushimitsudoki Aquarium, an aquarium in Ushima City (which just borders Ouma City) is huge and popular and six million people visit it every month. Turns out the director of that aquarium, Isana, is also a cursed human, being part human and part… sperm whale… ok. Since his aquarium is so popular and cool, he’s gained back a lot of his human body, but only one part refuses to transform… (insert bad joke here)
So, when Sakamata the gangsta orca kidnaps Igarashi, a spotted seal, Shiina and Co. must rush to the rescue.
Very gangsta orca
When they introduced the high-ranking members of the aquarium, I totally got Bleach/One Piece vibes from it – I mean, seriously, all shounen manga have this weird ranking system with badass-looking-people that’ll obviously get defeated on one-on-one battles with the ‘good guys’. Even so, this unique (and by unique, I mean HOLY SHIT UNIQUE) premise makes such battles very interesting, seeing how the animals’ abilities will measure up to each other. Not only that, but instead of weird crap like Devil Fruit and talking swords, the people’s powers are just based on something as simple as animals.
If anything, the character design is definitely brilliant. Who would’ve thought of having a whale’s tail as a cape? Or snakes for hair (oh wait, that sounds familiar…)? Or that… weird.. rhino design… which is still weird and rhino-y to me. I have a feeling the writer’s rushing this too much – as opposed to things like Bleach, which started off slow and then HEY HEY HEY LET’S LIKE FIGHT THIS STRONGEST SWORD IN THE WORLD oh yay we won OH MAN THIS GUY TURNED INTO A GOD LET’S CUT HIM oh yay we won OH MAN TURNS OUT THERE WERE PEOPLE WITH HIDDEN ABILITIES THAT ARE MORE GODLY THAN THAT GUY WHO BECAME A GOD.
If this manga runs as long as Bleach, I’m really looking forward to the character evolution, which might actually be interesting. And, throughout all this, there’s still a plot – to make Oumagadoki the best zoo in the world.
All in all, I love this manga. It’s got a brilliant premise, amazing design, great characters, and awesome battles. It would certainly be a shame if something like this got cancelled, right?
[Oumagadoki Doubutsuen has ended at 37 chapters]