Time Killers

By Kazue Kato. Released in Japan by Shueisha, stories collected from various Jump one-shots. Released in North America by Viz Media.

Rabbits. There’s no helping it, that’s the one thing I take away most from this collection of short stories by the author of Blue Exorcist. There are romances, action adventures, tragic minimalist studies, and amusing comedies, but the rabbits seem to pervade the work. The author clearly likes her rabbits. Once you get past that, though, you’re left with a solid collection that nevertheless tells you what should be obvious: this is a hodgepodge of stories that together helped her write Blue Exorcist, which is better than all of them and her strongest work. This doesn’t denigrate Time Killers: in fact, you’d expect most collections of early works to be that way. Authors improve.


The first story is one of the darkest, with the rabbit suit (which in this story looks remarkably like Arthur’s moth costume from The Tick) being one of the few bits of humor. A teenage boy whose life to date has been a series of tragedies now makes his living assassinating for hire, and yet continues to try to eke out an existence as a high school student. Now he has to kill the father of one of his classmates, a raging idealist who wants to save the world. It’s a terrific debut (the first and last stories in the collection are the best), and you can easily see why it was picked up as her debut.

The middle of the collection is more patchy. One story seems to be a post-apocalyptic Western where half the cast are talking rabbits, but it never really gelled for me, possibly as the main human kept reminding me too much of Naruto. There are some excellent 5-6 page short stories that show off Kato’s art and sense of pacing, both with minimal to no dialogue. Redemption also features in a few of these, with a young man who has to care for his daughter realizing that he can’t keep running from life forever (and literally getting away with murder… the comedic tone of this story is deliberately jarring, which I quite liked). There are also a few stories that just didn’t work for me, such as the one with the “magic girl rice bowl”, and the romance among aline invasion, which needed more development and room to get the reader to care about what was going on.

As I said earlier, the highlight of the volume is the final story, The Miyama-Uguisu Mansion Incident. You can see the seeds of Blue Exorcist sprouting here, and not just because the two leads look like Rin and Shiemi. The art has come to the point where it can almost carry the story by itself, and the theme of gaining enough strength to be able to save someone important to you is one that resonates powerfully for a Jump viewer. The villain is nicely evil and over the top without quite descending into camp, and there’s an air of sweet melancholy that drapes over the whole affair. It’s a fine work.

Viz hasn’t skimped on the presentation – the paper quality is high, with many color pages throughout. Any Blue Exorcist fan should pick this up, and if casual readers get it and enjoy it, go track down Blue Exorcist. Also, it has lots of rabbits and rabbit costumes. Far more than your average Jump title.

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