Manga Claus, Blade of Kringle - Review by Chris, Staff Blogger
If you're anything like me, the sheer size of the holiday genre makes you wonder, "how will I ever find original content that isn't so laden with excessive, cheery cliches that it makes me want to flee, Grinch-like, to the top of a mountain?" Well, dear readers, stop throwing shade at those villagers down in Whoville because I can inform you that your search is over. Or hey, maybe you're just wondering, "Why doesn't my holiday story involve extensive, Hattari Hanzo-esque swordfighting scenes with a dual katana-wielding Santa, posessed ninja teddy bears and a disgruntled elf wielding dark magic?" Either way, look no further than Manga Claus: Blade of Kringle.
Manga Claus is a graphic novel written by Nathaniel Marunas and inked by children's illustrator Erik Craddock. It begins by delving into the so seldom-covered topic of Santa's early days spent travelling and training in the martial arts, including training in swordsmanship during the Tokugawa Shogunate. Fast-forwarding to today, Santa's long-mothballed Samurai butt-kicking abilities are called into the forefront once again when a disgruntled ex-employee raises an army of possessed teddy bear ninjas. Santa must fight to reclaim the North Pole and save Christmas with equal parts honor, loyalty and tinsel.
This graphic novel is a concise, 80-page adventure epic that moves quickly and delivers everything promised in the title. The artwork is highly stylized, and while you can clearly see the manga influence, it's still more in keeping with Western comics both in terms of the format (i.e. left-to-right pages) and in the drawing style. I really like this because as someone who was raised on Marvel and DC comics, it feels familiar and accessible to me while still introducing me to the manga style which I'm less familiar with. This would be a great recommendation for anyone looking to get into manga for the first time, and I'd love to see its merits debated in one of our anime clubs. And while there are several multi-page action sequences involving Santa carving through bad guys like so much store-bought cranberry sauce, the lack of blood or serious violence means that it's appropriate for ages 8 and over. So, if you find yourself hanging with the fam over the holidays, looking for read something to the special tiny humans in your life and you're totes done with Clifford, this would be a refreshing alternative for all involved.
You can check out this cheery saga of holiday warfare in our discover catalogue.