COWA! by Akira Toriyama: A-

cowaFrom the back cover:
Paifu, a half-vampire half-werekoala, is always getting into trouble with his best buddy, José the ghost. But when the Monster Flu sweeps through town, the fun and games are over. If the monsters don’t get the medicine soon, everyone will die! With all the adults sick, it’s up to the kids to save the day!

Paifu and José are off on a big adventure, but will they get the medicine in time… or will they become victims themselves?!

At first, I was pretty underwhelmed by COWA!. With a little perseverance, however, I found that if one can get past the first three chapters, which set up the world, introduce the characters, and include more than their fair share of flatulence, an absolutely charming monster road trip adventure awaits!

In the town of Batwing Ridge, all sorts of monsters live in peace and occasionally interact with their human neighbors. Paifu and his more timid buddy, José, spend their free time playing and stirring up mischief—the entire first chapter is about squandering money that was to be used to buy a watermelon and then having to pilfer one instead. When the Monster Flu outbreak hits and no adults are free to make the trip to the one witch who can make the medicine, Paifu instantly volunteers to go and drafts José to help him. When it’s pointed out that they don’t have a car, Paifu promises Maruyama, the reclusive former sumo wrestler who’s hiding out from the world after accidentally killing an opponent, $10,000 for his assistance.

Our heroes set out, joined by a braggart of a monster named Arpon, and a more linear story develops. The montages of the monsters riding in Maruyama’s car, entranced by things like a passing train and the lighted sign of a hardware store are nothing short of terrific; their wonder at the human life is depicted with warmth and fondness and serves to help soften Maruyama’s heart towards them, as well. Over the course of their quest, Paifu matures a bit and Maruyama proves that he is both compassionate and a total badass. The ending quite unexpectedly made me verklempt.

Toriyama’s depiction of the monster world adds a lot to the charm of his tale. The first chapter is in color, which is essential when you want to establish the fact that your lead character is green, his friend is blue, et cetera. Each monster family in Batwing Ridge has a home of their own, be it a cave or a giant pumpkin. I love the absurd idea that José’s family of ghosts has a mailbox and also enjoyed the random appearances by a cute little mummy kid who never actually says anything. Another fun monster awaits at the end of the quest—he reminds me of something out of The Point!—and he’s got a nifty weakness as well as a useful function.

Imaginative and entertaining, COWA! is heartily recommended as a Halloween read. In fact, I liked it so much I’m planning to check out Toriyama’s best known work: a little thing called Dragon Ball. Stay tuned!

COWA! is published in English by VIZ and is complete in one volume.

Did you enjoy this article? Consider supporting us.


  1. Have you read Dr Slump? If you like Toriyama’s humor, I’d recommend that over Dragonball. I love Dragonball, too, but while it does have a lot of humor, it’s primarily a battle manga, whereas Dr Slump is just pure cracktastic humor with very little actual plot.

    • No, I haven’t. I’d been kind of worried that I wouldn’t like it for the lack of plot, but it sounds like it might be amusing enough to make up for that.

      • It has arcs, each with their own plot, so it’s not totally just random gags or anything. Sort of a slice of life manga about characters in this town…only everything is super cracky. XD

        A lot of it is puns, so I don’t envy the people who had to translate it, and I hope they were able to do a good job and make it funny in English, too.


  1. […] Tiamat’s Disciple on vol. 1 of Crimson Shell (Tiamat’s Manga Reviews) Michelle Smith on Cowa! (Soliloquy in Blue) Lorena Nava Ruggero on vol. 2 of The Embalmer (i heart manga) Tangognat on vol. […]

  2. […] After enjoying Toriyama’s COWA! so much last October, I decided to read more of his works. Sand Land, one of the first batch of […]

  3. […] This series was recommended to me after I enjoyed Toriyama’s COWA! so much. Unfortunately, this one’s not really my cup of tea. I had originally borrowed the […]

Speak Your Mind