Written and illustrated by Naoya Matsumoto. Kaiju No. 8 is a manga that takes place in the near future where beasts known as kaiju terrorize the world. The Japan Defence Force, a military unit tasked with kaiju suppression, exists to assist in keeping the threat under control. But this isn’t really a story about the armed services. Kafka Hibino, our protagonist, is a kaiju-corpse cleanup man whose childhood dream of joining the police force was put on hold after multiple failed entry exams. When memories of his childhood friend Mina and their agreement to join the Japan Defence Force and fight alongside her resurface when a young man joins the cleanup crew, Kafka decides to give it another shot. But there’s a catch: Kafka is now half kaiju.
The concept of Kaiju No. 8 is really cool. An ordinary man accidentally consumes kaiju, developing a power that he must learn to control while adjusting to his new life and saving people. The fact that Kafka is 32 years old, however, distinguishes this manga. Having the main character deal with issues of growing older and feeling like he’s accomplished nothing with his life is a risk for a manga aimed at a young male audience. In reality, Kafka is just an adult working a job that falls just short of his dream, and it’s understandable. The manga’s brisk pacing, which flies at the reader like a whirlwind, and the artwork, which is both beautiful and powerful, are two of its other strengths. The violence is palpable, the monsters are terrifying and grandiose, and the adventure itself is unforgettable. The character designs are flawless, and the story is something that no manga fan should overlook.