Shonen manga is flooded with fantasy stories, many of them outstanding, with memorable characters and plots, while others just don't reach the standards set by many established series; and then there are series like The Hunters Guild: Red Hood which fall into a gray region in between. This isn't always a negative thing, but with so many similar manga on the market, the effort falls short. Without throwing stones at The Hunters Guild: Red Hood, it's fair to state that there are some moments in this manga that, if polished more, would turn it into a diamond in the rough.
The Hunters Guild: Red Hood depicts a little kid named Velou who lives in a community plagued by werewolf attacks when a couple of the locals are tragically slain and the townspeople pool all of their money to hire a Hunter. When a gang of fierce werewolves confronts the two of them, tragedy strikes, and both Velou and the hunter receive more than they bargained for. Velou and the hunter must work together to combat this menace, and this is where Velou's journey to become a hunter truly begins.
A Potentially Exciting Shonen Fantasy That Plays It Too Safe
The Hunters Guild: Red Hood is a straightforward shonen manga that takes few risks. However, the series does contain a few positive features. The first is that the character designs and action sequences are really nicely done, with an aggressive aesthetic that complements the monster hunting theme. However, it may be a bit too dramatic at times, and a lot of the action is so jumbled and put together that some of the bouts are difficult to follow. The images throughout several of the battles become jumbled, resulting in more head scratching than exhilaration.
There is, however, the possibility for a fantastic plot that subverts fairytale cliches. In this book, for example, Cinderella is a witch who can perform tremendous fire spells, and the whole Hunters Guild was formed by Little Red Riding Hood's relatives. There is potential, but the reader is given few to no answers, making it difficult to feel immersed in the world. The Hunters Guild: Red Hood appears to have thrown together fairytale motifs, not in an original fashion, but rather sloppily stitching together minor allusions without fleshing them out. Which is a shame because some of the scenery and settings of this manga are very imaginative, and if the series were in the hands of a more experienced mangaka, could have really catapulted this manga to become a staple in the Shonen Jump lexicon.
Is The Hunters Guild: Red Hood a Good Buy?
The protagonists are also more cardboard cutouts than memorable characters. Velou is a ubiquitous out-for-revenge shonen lead similar to Tanjiro Kamado from Demon Slayer, but his motives are stiff and lack the emotional drive of other shonen protagonists. As for the hunter lead in question, Grimm, she's the typical silent and strong female lead that has been handled better and more memorable in other manga. Both are fine characters when it comes to their archetypes, but neither leave an impression that is lasting on the reader.
While The Hunters Guild: Red Hood is far from being worth it for every manga reader, those who enjoy the standard shonen action romp with flashy razzle-dazzle will find something worthwhile here. But for fans who prefer their shonen manga to have more depth and focus, it may be best to look elsewhere.
The Hunters Guild: Red Hood Vol. 1 is now available in English via Viz Media.