Sunday, October 12, 2008

Toto! The Wonderful Adventure Vol. 1 by Yuko Osada

Main character: Kakashi
Location: An alternate world--name as yet unknown
Time period: Seems to be contemporary
Genre: YA Manga

As you can probably guess from the title, this story has ties to The Wizard of Oz, but it is not just a manga version of that classic book.

Kakashi is a small-town boy with big dreams. He is an orphan; his father was an explorer who left their small island years ago and never returned. Kakashi has one memento--his father's journal which ends "The world is vast. You don't need a reason. Go on an adventure." Kakashi reminds me a bit of Luffy from One Piece--he is unfailingly optimistic and determined to get off of his island.

Kakashi's chance comes in the form of an airship which needs to stop for repairs. When it leaves, Kakashi stows away. In the cargo hold, he meets and befriends a darling little puppy with an intriguing collar. The airship is overtaken by a mafia group who eject the passengers over open water but decide to let Kakashi stay aboard. Kakashi sees a world map for the first time and is stunned at how big the world is. The airship comes under attack by the military and is destroyed but Kakashi, along with his puppy, manage to parachute to safety in a corn field where they meet a young girl named Dorothy.

The puppy, now named Toto, is more than he appears, and is the target of the military search. Kakashi, Dorothy, and Toto, fall into the clutches of the Great Nassau Imperial Army but you know they won't stay captives long.

Translation notes point out some of the various Wizard of Oz references. I caught most of them, but was happy to be told that Kakashi's name also means "scarecrow" in Japanese. I'm sure in upcoming volumes we will encounter the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion as well.

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