The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer, Vol. 1

By Satoshi Mizukami. Released in Japan as “Hoshi no Samidare” by Shonen Gahosha, serialized in the magazine Young King OURS. Released in the United States by Shonen Gahosha on the JManga website.

First of all, I should note that the JManga site lists this under its original Japanese title. Despite the fact that the English title is PRINTED ON THE FRONT COVER. Given none of Shonen Gahosha’s titles have been translated to date, I will assume this is some stupid business rule, but I wish it would change. In any case, when you look for this book, look for it as Hoshi no Samidare. And you definitely should look for it.

At first glance, this may seem no different from many other shonen titles. A young man, Yuuhi, it woken late at night by an animal mascot, who tells him that he must join with other allies to defend his Princess and protect the Earth. It almost sounds like it could fit right in with several Western-type superhero plots you’d see over here. Sure, the animal mascot is a lizard, but that’s probably just an eccentricity of the author. We’re in for rollicking action and fun times. Friendship, Training, Victory, right? Well, not quite. This manga isn’t in a shonen magazine, but a seinen one. The very eccentric Young King OURS, home of Excel Saga, Trigun and Hellsing. And Yuuhi is not your typical shonen hero.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Yuuhi is a nihilist, but certainly he is a young man who does not wish to interact with life. Likewise, the heroine, who is the aforementioned Princess, has declared that it is her desire to destroy the world – rather than save it. And it is *this* – the appeal of simply ending everything – that causes Yuuhi to suddenly gain a purpose in life and pledge his allegiance to her. It’s not really a stretch to say that the conscience of the manga, at least in this first volume, is the lizard (often horrified at Yuuhi’s thoughts) rather than the two leads.

Muxch of this first volume is setting up for what will no doubt be a larger cast – indeed, we see one of them, Hangetsu, show up in the final chapter, and he’s a complete contrast to the pessimistic and grumpy Yuuhi. Most of the time, though, we deal with Yuuhi and his own demons. Yuuhi spent most of his childhood being abused, mentally and emotionally (as well as physically, I’d suggest, given the chains). I would go so far as to say that he’s at his most tragic when he’s smiling, as it reveals to us the fragile facade he’s built up. In my favorite part of the volume, Yuuhi calmly relates the death of his father, his mother’s abandonment, and his grandfather’s abuse, and then simply grins. Neu, the lizard familiar, stares in horror, for he is able to visualize what it must have been like.

As for Samidare, we don’t get as much of a look into her own life – she blithely states she doesn’t want the world to survive after her own death, which is why she plans to destroy it, but that’s not really telling us motivation. After hearing about his past, we can see why Yuuhi wants everything to end. Indeed, he’s very matter-of-fact about it, telling Samidare (in a dream, which the two of them share almost from the start), that he’s binding himself to her so he can free himself from his grandfather’s chains – he’s still bound. It’s not all dark and tortured misery, mind you – Yuuhi’s meeting with his grandfather gives us some hint that there is still compassion inside of him, even if there is no forgiveness yet. What’s more, his determination to be someone who can protect his lady (Yuuhi is an unathletic normal guy, while Samidare seems to have super strength) is admirable, and reaches a peak towards the end in a fantastic action sequence against one of the golems sent to kill him.

The series is 10 volumes long, so we’ve only really just gotten started. It was a cult hit online, and while I had heard some companies making noise about licensing it (Dark Horse and Vertical both said they were aware of the title), the current market really didn’t seem to fit its tone. I’m very happy that Shonen Gahosha and JManga have brought it over. It isn’t perfect – the translation suffers from awkwardness at times, like many JManga titles, and the art style is best defined as ‘striking’ rather than ‘pretty’ – but it’s a fun, gripping read. If you like superhero comics with a kick to them – or you want shonen that’s a little more grown up – give The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer a try. One of the best licenses yet from JManga.

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  1. With an English title that stupid, is it any wonder they used the Japanese one?

    • “The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer” is actually a refer to a song, ‘Biscuit Hammer’ by the Pillows. The author is a huge fan of the band and there are numerous references to other songs from them throughout the series (along with a few GAINAX series references).

      Great first impression, though. It’s such a fun manga and it throws some amazing twists and turns. Still upset that it’s highly unlikely Biscuit Hammer won’t be getting a physical release in the US, as I’d love to see it brought over. Oh well, perhaps one day, right?

  2. I think the English must be a subtitle, because it’s certainly not in any way, shape or form a translation of the Japanese. Therefore it makes just as much sense to have the title on the site be a transliteration of the Japanese title (which by the way means something like “The Planet’s Early Summer Rain”).

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