Gabimaru is a ninja on death row with one chance to see his wife again—by finding the elixir of immortality on a supernatural island and delivering it to the shogun. Standing in his way are his fellow convicts and the fearsome beasts that roam the island, devouring or killing anyone they encounter. In addition, Gabimaru must contend with sinister beings who have lived on the island for several lifetimes, tinkering and experimenting on humans and the local fauna to further the goals of their dark sciences. Who are these otherworldly individuals that rule this beautiful and deadly place? And how can Gabimaru possibly stand against them?
Kaku transforms the clich d ninja hero trope into an unexpected psychological thriller in this genre-blending manga. Ninja Gabimaru the Hollow, nicknamed for his r sum of emotionless assassinations, awaits death, sentenced by a double-crossing chief. Though resolved to his fate ("Any parting words?" "Nah."), Gabimaru proves impossible to kill, despite several gruesome methods attempted. His ninjutsu training kicks in subconsciously, fueled by a deep-seated instinct to survive and return to his wife. Offered the chance to have his crimes pardoned, Gabimaru agrees to leave on an expedition with a group of death row criminals and master decapitator, Yamada Asaemon Sagiri, who is charged with keeping Gabimaru in line to find the elixir of life on a legendary island of paradise. But paradise comes with a price: those who set foot on the island never return and their decaying corpses morph into thousands of delicately blooming flowers. Using densely hatched lines and manga's typical lack of color to his advantage with copious shading, Kaku blends horror and shonen (teen male-oriented) genres. His detailed illustrations, reminiscent of Junji Ito's horror manga, imbue the tale with an unsettling, gruesome charm. This mysterious first volume, and its intricate artwork, launches the series with promise.