From the back cover:
Apathetic schoolboy Miharu Rokujou is content to meander through life in the sleepy village of Banten. But his quiet existence is shattered when the Grey Wolves of Iga, a powerful ninja clan, attempt to kidnap him in broad daylight. Only then does Miharu discover that the ultimate power of the hidden ninja realm—a power that can do both great good and great harm—is sealed within his body. As battles erupt among rival ninja clans seeking to control him, Miharu must overcome his apathy and learn the ways of the ninja if he wants any shot at survival!
Through circumstances so far left unexplained, apathetic middle schooler Miharu Rokujou has within his body the “wisdom” required to access the power to rule all things, Shinra Banshou. This makes him a hot commodity among rival ninja clans, who have persevered into the modern day solely because of their quest to find and obtain this power for themselves.
But Miharu’s not interested in any of that. He’d much rather maintain his indifference to the things around him and coast through life until such time as he inherits the family okonomiyaki shop. Despite repeated urgings from the covert ninjas in his school—a classmate and a teacher—to take the situation seriously and begin training, Miharu can’t be made to care. Eventually they wear him down and he joins the ninja club, where he begins to learn a few techniques. Later, a trip to consult a ninja expert ends in bloodshed as a rival clan is in the midst of an attack and employing a “monster” who uses his own life force to inflict terrible wounds on his opponents.
Although it picks up towards the end of the volume, with the battle scenes and the revelation that Kumohira-sensei, ninja club advisor and Miharu’s self-appointed protector, harbors a dark secret, I found the first half of this volume to be extremely dull. There’s a repeating pattern that goes like this:
Kumohira-sensei: You should join the club and train!
Miharu: Don’t wanna.
Rival ninjas: *attack*
Rinse and repeat about four times before he finally ends up in the club, though without any significant change of heart. It’s pretty frustrating. He does, at least, begin reading up and shows incredible aptitude when he actually applies himself. It’s a good sign that, towards the end of the volume, he actually gets adamant about something. Perhaps he’ll finally begin to care about his situation and the people willing to give everything to protect him.
The comedic gags didn’t really work for me, either. I don’t think I smiled at a single one. These range from Miharu using his uke-like looks to get his way—seriously, he’s so scrawny that in one panel his head is, like, twice as big as his butt—to the others’ over-the-top reactions to the unfashionable garb Miharu wears to the train station. I get that the author is trying to establish some camaraderie between the characters, but it’s just not funny.
I have no complaints about Kamatani’s art, and the packaging from Yen Press, including some smooth and swanky paper, is quite nice. This is the first manga published by them, as opposed to manhwa, that I’ve read so I’d never previously noticed, being unable to read Korean, that they faithfully translate the sound of the original sound effect and then include its meaning in parenthesis, like “basa (flap).” I like it.
Ultimately, while I’m not wild about Nabari No Ou so far, the uptick in the last couple of chapters means I’m not quite ready to give up on it yet.
Nabari No Ou is published in English by Yen Press; two volumes have been released so far. The series is still ongoing in Japan and is up to eleven volumes.