Toto!: The Wonderful Adventure Vol. 1

By Yuko Osada
208 pages, black and white
Published by Del Rey

I think it was the cover of Toto!: The Wonderful Adventure that instantly grabbed my attention. It’s simple enough, a young boy pulling a pair of goggles on, with a dog on his shoulder, a map on his back, and the background being a map as well. But I have to give Yuko Osada credit, that was just enough that made me want to see more, promising some sort of rollicking adventure within its pages. And happily, that’s exactly what you find here.

Kakashi desperately wants to leave the little island he lives on and see the rest of the world. His father was an explorer, leaving behind a journal for his son with stories of all of the amazing places he visited over the years. No matter how many times Kakashi has tried to find a way off the island, though, his schemes always fail. Then a massive zeppelin stops for repairs, and Kakashi has found his way towards adventure—starting with the ride he just stowed away on getting taken over by a gang of robbers. Kakashi couldn’t be happier.

Toto!: The Wonderful Adventure is one of those books that, if you have to describe in a single word, would best simply called fun. Kakashi is the perfect sort of hero, stumbling from one situation to the next but never giving up hope. He’s got a good attitude, he’s genuinely excited to be off his isolated island, and he takes each new encounter with aplomb. That level of excitement is infectious, reminding me a bit of the early volumes of One Piece with how eager the protagonist is to find adventure. I also really like that in the first volume it’s really three shorter stories that make up the book; instead of dwelling on a single location or set of villains, Osada isn’t afraid to shake things up, keeping things perpetually moving forward.

The art in Toto!: The Wonderful Adventure is good as well. It’s got a highly energetic look to it, Kakashi leaping across the page with grace and ease. I love the eager look that Osada draws on Kakashi’s face whenever things begin to heat up; it’s a great visual shorthand to know when our hero is having fun in the face of danger (versus terror in the face of danger, of course). He takes some of this attention and skill and applies it to the rest of the cast as well; the head of the Man Chicken Family with his little mustache and piercing eyes made an instant impression on me, and despite Dorothy’s typical schoolgirl outfit she felt really alive and visually interesting the second she appeared.

Toto!: The Wonderful Adventure is a fun little book, and fans of The Wizard of Oz will get an added bonus in all sorts of Oz references every way you look. (Kakashi himself is even a reference, his name meaning scarecrow.) At just five volumes in length, this sounds like just the right duration so that Osada can keep the level of fun going the whole way through the series. I’ll definitely take a look at future volumes.

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