Hinowa ga CRUSH! Vol. 1 Review

Title: Hinowa ga CRUSH! Vol. 1
Author: Takahiro (Story), strelka (Art)
Publisher: Yen Press
Language: English
Format: Paperback
Pages: 208
Genre: Action
Publication Date: September 25, 2018

The Story

Hinowa ga CRUSH is not just a new manga from Takahiro but it is the sequel series to one of the best manga series I’ve read in a long time: Akame ga Kill! When we left the previous series, Akame had set sail to find out a way to dispel the curse that was taking over her body after she used it in order to aid Takumi and defeat General Esdeath.

Here in Hinowa ga CRUSH, we are taken to the island nation of Wakoku in which twenty-four countries are engaged in a civil war for total control of the island. Here, we are introduced to Hinowa, a simple fisherman with extremely high combat skills that have enlisted to serve in the military force of the Soukai nation. The Tenrou nation is threatening an attack on the Saryuu nation and Hinowa is using that to her advantage to wipe the Tenrou army out. Things go according to plan and Hinowa takes the Tenrou commander’s head; however, Yomihime, a Tenrou nation commander, shows up and engages in battle with Hinowa. Hinowa is slain by Yomihime which sends us 10 years into the future where we meet Hinata, daughter of Hinowa.

Hinata lives in Yaenami Village and is training with her friends in order to serve in the military. She even went as far as to change her name to Hinowa, the same as her mother’s, in order to avenge her and bring justice to her name. During a sparring session with her friend Tobari, she receives word that someone washed up on shore. They go rescue that person who turns out to be Akame! Akame explains her situation to Hinowa/Tobari as well as the village elder. The elder, in turn, explains where Akame is and gives her a brief rundown of the island’s history and current status. The elder even goes as far as to say that there might be something he can do about her curse!

Soon after, a battle is drawing near as the Tenrou forces are looking to capture Shiranui Fortress, the lone defense which protects their country by land. Hinowa, Tobari, and her friends Hisame, Suzumaru, and Kumehachi, are all slated to take part in this battle; however, their commander Maruge, is heading to the mountains rather than the fortress after he lied about suspicions of there being a sneak attack in order to stay out of combat because of his fear of dying. Lo’ and behold, there was an actual sneak attack on the location that he chose.

Among those who were attacking was Yomihime. She comes face-to-face with Hinowa and that’s where our first volume ends.

So far, I am really digging this new story! It was a bit confusing at first when with the titular character was killed but once I read the next chapter, it all began to make sense. It threw me off because it seemed so similar to how Akame ga Kill started off with Takumi fighting to earn money to make sure no one in his village back home suffered and Hinowa fighting to raise money to make sure her family didn’t have to continue suffering. The stories seemed eerily similar at first; however, that concept did a complete 180 within the first two chapters and Hinata/Hinowa has her own reason to fight.

It also feels a bit weird to see Akame in a supporting role rather than the main character role but that was to be expected since this series is all about Hinowa. I also liked the subtle differences in terminology like danger beasts being known as freaks and Teigu weapons being known as a Meihou. It really gives you a sense that everything is the same throughout the world but there are different cultures with their own terminology, much like how the real world works. It’s a small and subtle touch and yet it has a pretty big cultural impact that helps draw you into the story and into the world.

Characters

We’ve got a bunch of characters here to talk about so let’s jump right in!

Hinata/Hinowa is our main character who is seeking to avenge her mother Hinowa’s death and to gain recognition as a fisherman so she can earn money to protect those that she loves. She was part of a fishing group but was dissatisfied with the amount of money she was making and decided to venture off on her own. She has a fiery personality but she’s not rash about her decisions. She might be a little on the loud side but she’s always thinking and strategizing which makes her very strong. Her combat skills are good but Akame had to teach her how to think for herself in battle instead of just going by the book. This helped her raise her combat prowess even higher and it even caused Akame to see a lot of herself in Hinowa.

So far, I think Hinowa is a very solid main character. She’s prideful, very protective of her friends has a goal, and is conscious about it. As a character, she doesn’t seem like the type that needs to grow and mature because they’ve started her off in such a way. Heck, even during her first battle, she was playing the role of commander for her friends even though she was just a foot soldier. Typically, you see rather weak protagonists that have to rely on friends in order to get stronger but you’re not getting that here with Hinowa. She’s already strong and independent and is written as a pillar of support for her friends instead of the other way around. I’m really liking her so far.

Tobari is Hinowa’s best friend and she’s the rowdy archetype. She’s highly energetic but her combat skills don’t exactly match her personality. She seems like the kind of person to have fun during battle but her battle skills are way up there. So much so, that she’s aware of her high skill and that gives her a bit of an ego which comes out when she boasts just how good she is. I can see an early death flag being planted for her as she seems like the type to get overconfident in her skills which will lead to her downfall. Overall, I think Tobari is a fun character but I don’t see her lasting all that long… especially in a series written by Takahiro.

We didn’t really get a good look at Suzumaru and Hisame other than a quick look at their backgrounds but I have to say, between the two of them, they seem rather generic. The only one of the three friends that stood out was Kumehachi and that’s only because of his personality. Kumehachi is your typical pervert. His father is a gambling drunkard and Kumehachi does not want to grow up to be like his father. His goal is to gain fame and notoriety in order to surround himself with beautiful women to the point where he has to fend them off with a stick. He has a bit of a cocky attitude but out of the group of five, he seems to be the comedic relief. He reminds me a lot of Lubbock from Akame ga Kill, just turned up a couple of notches.

Next, we have a couple of the commanders: Maruge and Shino. Both of which are commanders for the Soukai nation. Maruge is a coward who only received his title by marrying into royalty. He has no aptitude for battle and even wanted to station his troops in the mountains just so he could avoid combat. This backfires on him in a big way and I hope it leads to his demise. He is a disgusting character that reminds me of a non-evil version of Honest from Akame ga Kill.

Shion, on the other hand, is a tenured commander who is revered for his character, poise, dignity and…

…dude just screwed a manta ray…

…DUDE JUST SCREWED A MANTA RAY…

I guess that’s one way to feel alive in battle… to each their own I gue—HE SCREWED A MANTA RAY. HE PROCEEDED TO PLEASURE HIMSELF WITH A FISH. I’m done.

Yomihime seems to be the General Esdeath of this story. She was the one who killed Hinata/Hinowa’s mother and is extremely strong and battle-tested. Her skill and her demeanor clearly reflect her power. I see her playing a major role in this series with no doubt in my mind that the series will conclude with a Hinowa vs Yomehime fight. Not really much backstory to her just yet but I’m sure she’ll get fleshed out over time. So far she doesn’t seem too interesting but this is only the first five chapters.

Final Thoughts

Going into Hinowa ga CRUSH, I was worried that it wouldn’t be able to retain the level of quality of the prequel series. Those fears were dispelled quite quickly. The story is pretty interesting so far with a very strong main character that you can get behind. Akame does show up and her story has not been forgotten in the least bit. I like how her story will run parallel to a new, grander story as we build up a new main character. Funny thing is, though, I’m sitting here wondering how attached we’re allowed to be to all of these new characters. This is a Takahiro story after all which means you shouldn’t get attached to any of them for any length of time. The first chapter was a pretty good indication of this.

The swap of scenery from villages and major cities to remote islands with a pirate theme was a pretty risky move… especially since this type of switch is already failing for World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth. However, manga has a way to make any scenario appealing and I truly believe this setting works extremely well for the story. While the sea theme is present, all of the core plots from Akame ga Kill are here as well, making it seem fresh and new, yet familiar at the same time. The best way to ease a reader into a sequel series is to make the transition feel painless. By not ignoring the story’s roots, bringing in a familiar character, and keeping familiar plot points intact help readers settle into the new world that they are trying to build and Hinowa ga CRUSH does this perfectly.

Much like Akame washing up in Yaenami village and being accepted by Hinowa, we’re all in foreign territory but we’re still made to feel right at home! Needless to say, if you loved Akame ga Kill, pick this series up and continue the story. I have a feeling that this is going to be another good one!

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This item was provided for review by Yen Press

About The Author

Josh Piedra

Josh (or J.J. as some have come to call him), is a long-time geek culture enthusiast with a deep passion for anime, manga and Japanese culture. Josh also has a Bachelor of Arts in Game Design and is a creative writer who has created original content for over 20 years! He is also the author of the original English light novel Final Hope.