Book Review: Wolfguy by Kazumasa Hirai

Wolfguy is a novel by the late Kazumasa Hirai and translated to English by Edward Lipsett.  Akira Inugami is a transfer student who shows up at the troubled school ruled by a son of mobster. Despite the violence from gang boys, Akira Inugami doesn't resist at all. Despite beatings he keeps returning to school unscathed.  He is a wolfguy, a werewolf that heals quickly and is very hard to kill. When things escalate the gang  attacks his the teacher that has shown him respect and care. Their filthy behavior fuels the wolf's anger.

Wolfguy is both more and less than I expected. The story is much more complex than a simple summary can express. the point of view varies between Akira, the teach in question, and occasionally other characters. It is easy to follow, but I expect readers that are not familiar with the culture and folklore of the region would have a little trouble getting into the story. I have spent a significant about of time watching television and reading literature from Japan, so I fell into the world fairly easily. The corruption and politics involved in schools- and the need to save face is important to the set up of how the school got to be in the state readers (and Akira) find it in. The story, and the environment are all well described and the action is very well told. However, while I could picture the action, environment, and characters it all felt a little flat. Part of this could have been the trouble of translating and that I thought this would be a graphic novel (only because of the cover, I admit I did not read much about the book before requesting it).

Wolfguy is a solid story with significant action and great ideas. I found the actual writing to fall a little flat, but the ideas and action it convoyed to be interesting. I think this is more because of my personal preferences and translation rather than a reflection on the original work. Readers with some knowledge of Japanese culture might enjoy it more than others. 

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