Manga Reviews Reviews Yen Press

Manga Review: Kowloon Generic Romance, Vol. 1 (2022) by Jun Mayuzuki

Kowloon Generic Romance v01 (2022) (Digital) (1r0n)
The most impactful series debut of 2022.

“Welcome to Kowloon Walled City: a dystopian townscape where the people are brimming with nostalgia, and where the past, present, and future converge. Amid the hidden emotions and extraordinary daily lives of the men and women working in its confines, a tale of romance begins to unfold for real estate agent Reiko Kujirai—one that feels as familiar as Kowloon itself…”(Yen Press)

Looking at 's “” and how it blends multiple genres while purposely leaving out key details, readers may be under the allusion that the title is either convoluted or too disjointed. There are elements of science fiction with an ominous structure looming in the sky that has shaped the culture of the city, the hint of psychological trauma through abstract narrative devices, and, of course, a ‘generic' romance. In fact, the first volume throws enough curves at the reader that by the end, all that is left are questions as to what is the city of Kowloon and who exactly is Reiko Kujirai.

This may sound disorienting, but tying together the story with a traditional tale of romance manages to keep the work grounded and accessible. At the same time, the ‘generic' is obviously misleading as the series hints at layers of intrigue making “Kowloon Generic Romance” far removed from any semblance of traditional shoujo. Notably, the book will find favor with mature audiences through characters navigating their emotions with an appropriate caution that comes from carrying baggage into new relations in their late 20s/early 30s. For those who always seek out romance titles with adult characters (a common ask thrown around online), Jun Mayuzuki's mash of genres, underscored by a sophisticated courtship, makes the title an ideal recommendation.

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The artistic direction of the book encapsulates the various genres it touches on, with Mayuzuki able to transition mood and visuals with ease. The book can be comedic, reflective, or mysterious with the various elements captured with confident skill. Notably, Reiko Kujirai's introspective moments where she takes in the landscape of the dystopian city while reflecting on her views of the world, have a visual and narrative poetic beauty to them that is seldom captured so eloquently in the medium. Furthermore, these moments help develop the fascinating uncertainty of the office worker and who she is–the large city that is in constant fluctuation reflecting Reiko's own inability to feel settled.

The city of Kowloon itself and Mayuzuki's ability to bring it to life by injecting its own unique culture is integral to the book's success. The landscape is certainly dystopian, but the mix of cultures and personalities breathe life into the city. Essentially, Kowloon is a city of intrigue that is equally as fascinating as the ones that inhabit it.

“Kowloon Generic Romance” is the best debut I have had the pleasure to read this year, it is the series I am most ecstatic to carry on with into 2023. While it is still early to say with certainty the manga will be able to maintain the same standards in subsequent volumes it is difficult to picture a scenario where Jun Mayuzuki upsets the phenomenal worldbuilding and storytelling in the inaugural volume. A must-read.

About the author

Adam Symchuk

Adam Symchuk is a Canadian born freelance writer and editor who has been writing for Asian Movie Pulse since 2018. He is currently focused on covering manga, manhwa and light novels having reviewed hundreds of titles in the past two years.

His love of film came from horror and exploitation films from Japan that he devoured in his teens. His love of comics came from falling in love with the works of Shuzo Oshimi, Junji Ito, Hideshi Hino, and Inio Asano but has expanded to a general love of the medium and all its genres.

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