Title: Hyde & Closer
Author: Aso, Haro
Audience: Older Teen (16+)
Genre: Fantasy, Humor, Fighting
Summary: “Shunpei Closer has low self-esteem and doesn’t seem to be good at anything. His teddy bear, Hyde, was a gift from Shunpei’s grandfather, Alsyd Closer, who was the King of Sorcerers. After a mysterious attack, Shunpei learns that he is the target of sorcerers all over the world. With Hyde as his main protector and teacher, Shunpei must learn how to gain confidence in himself and use the magic that he has inherited to battle the dark forces that now threaten him.”
Rae’s Review: This week I bring Hyde & Closer to your attention. I would love to get feedback on this one, because I’m so undecided! It’d be super easy to hate on it as just another mystical-fight-anthropomorphic-animals-dumb-kids manga. Shunpei is a super coward who runs from everything and has no idea about his family’s history (talk about things that make us crazy in young adult books!) or that he is now in mortal danger from sorcerers all over the world. His protector is Hyde, the stuffed teddy bear that springs into action at the last possible moment to save Shunpei…I saw the stuffed bear with attitude and immediately thought of Kon from Bleach and was dismissive of this plot device. Plus, all the bad guys are gonna be sending wee little stuffed animals or *dolls* with kill curses after Shunpei? Almost gave up right there.
Then, I read farther. And, o-m-g, Hyde’s weapon is a…chainsaw! That is stored in a compartment zipped up his back…which he can’t reach and thus needs Shunpei’s assistance. Shunpei shows some backbone in the first chapter, yay! And Hyde is a cigar-chomping, honey-swigging, sage-advice giving (mostly on how “men” should behave) character that totally saves the day…but needs to be taken care of, too. And the whole stuffed animal fear? So gone. In fact, beware some of the fight scenes…they’re why this book is rated 16+…which is too bad, because Shunpei’s in 7th grade and I think a younger audience can definitely relate to him…so, if exploding stuffed animal parts and unrepentantly evil sorcerers don’t deter you, I would say all teens could enjoy this series.
In life, sometimes liking, loving, or hating something can hinge on a tiny aspect of it. In this case, I love Hyde, and thus lo…well, like the whole series. Despite his hardened attitude, I just want to squeeze him, lol. He obviously cares about Shunpei and is trying to protect him and encourage him to be brave and strong at the same time. Plus, he’s pretty effective with that chainsaw, so he could “shield” me anytime. ;P
So, that’s about it. Haro Aso admits at the end of the first volume that he intentionally designed Shunpei as a relatively useless main character. If he was big and bad, he wouldn’t need protecting. The focus for this series was always on Hyde and it shows. It’s still pretty amazing, though, how much expression and intent and emotion that Aso brings to the character.
I’ll wrap-up with the help of a fellow manga-reviewer: “Still, it’s hard to deny the appeal of stuffed animal cage matches or teddy bears who swagger like James Cagney, and for those two reasons, I’m going to stick with Hyde & Closer to see where Aso goes with his Fight Club-meets-Winnie the Pooh premise.”
Volume 6 just came out in October and the final volume (#7) is being released in the U.S. January ’12.
Official Website: shonensunday.com/series/hyde/index.shtml
Wikipedia Says: Hyde & Closer
No streaming. No anime. So sad. 😦 Start a petition?
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