Hey guys! So, this week we’re back once again and ready to showcase yet another famously tasty manga morsel for you guys to enjoy. This week on our trip down the Otaku Rabbit Hole, it’s the turn of a slightly older title, Hyde and Closer, a shonen manga with a dark atmosphere and a teddy bear quite unlike anything you’ve ever seen before! Without further ado, buckle up and let’s jump right into it!
Hyde and Closer opens with a whistle-stop introduction to the world of sorcery, something that will play a key role in the story to come. We are then introduced to protagonist Shunpei Closer, a cowardly boy that would rather run away and hide than face his problems head on. Upon arriving home from school one day, he is greeted by a delivery man that gives him an unassuming parcel. Within said parcel is a death toy, a toy that has been enchanted to become alive with a curse – its sole objective being to kill Shunpei Closer and collect his beating heart. It is revealed that Shunpei’s missing grandfather is the current Sorcerer King and the key to gaining the power of the King is to eat the still beating heart of his direct descendant. Quickly overwhelmed by the maniacal monkey, all seems lost – that is until Hyde, the teddy bear gifted to Shunpei by his grandfather years before, bursts onto the scene with chainsaw in hand and tears the death toy to pieces. From here, the story sets off at a breakneck pace, with Hyde and Shunpei facing off against sorcerer after sorcerer in order to survive and find out the truth behind what’s going on. Along the way, Shunpei must also face his personal demons and come out stronger, or risk losing his heart as a result. What will become of our dynamic duo? What manner of demonic toys will we see in the coming volumes? Well, you’ll have to check out this manga to find out!
The art style of mangaka Haro Aso has a distinct feeling of familiarity that fans of shonen manga will undoubtedly enjoy. However, it is the linework and sheer level of artistry present in each and every frame that creates a dynamic yet absorbing read that builds in scale and intensity page by page and sets Hyde and Closer apart from many of its peers. This manga is one of my personal favourites, and the obvious passion and precision that’s present in every aspect of this series is something I adore. Hyde and Closer is a rare example of a manga that draws you in with its story and characters, while the delicately balanced art, which treads the line between cute and creepy, is used expertly to keep you interested in reading far beyond the end of this first volume.
While this first volume has a tendency to lean heavily on typical shonen tropes, Hyde and Closer is an example of shonen done right by providing high stakes and a sense of actual danger for its characters. Hyde and Shunpei provide the perfect double-act, with Hyde’s creepy/cute appearance coupled with his confident persona and incredible power being the perfect foil to Shunpei’s overall helplessness – you really believe that Hyde is the key to Shunpei’s survival. The remainder of the cast is relatively sparse at this stage, but every character introduced in this volume is likable and has the potential to grow not only in strength but also as vital key players in the overall series. One such example is the totally-not-an-evil-santa-sorcerer, Chilledsky who, while sinister at first glance, is in truth a hilariously cowardly man on closer inspection. When even the lesser villains are memorable, you know you’re onto something special!
Ultimately, this series is one I highly recommend. I began reading Hyde and Closer in my teenage years and this manga has ingrained itself as one of my favourite shonen titles, even ranking among my top 10 favourite manga of all time. If you’re in the market for a shonen title that’s a little different from what you’d find in the pages of Shonen Jump, then look no further. This story is one that builds not only in scale but in heart as it progresses and will undoubtedly leave a lasting impression on anyone who reads it. Hyde and Closer is collected in 7 volumes, however, due to the age and relatively low popularity of the series, they are now somewhat difficult to come across. If you happen to stumble across this series, I would highly recommend you pick it up and do not let go; you won’t be disappointed! However, for anyone who can’t access this series, please keep an eye fixed on this blog over the coming months, as there may be a full series review coming soon for Hyde and Closer, so stay tuned for that!
With all of that said, I really hope you enjoyed this week’s trip down the Otaku Rabbit Hole and that manga morsel has whet your appetite for a little shonen teddy bear and his massive magical chainsaw! Until next time, as always, keep it weeby everyone!