Black Hooded Maverick (Japanese Title: 風雲黒頭巾 – Fūun-Kurozukin) was originally serialized in Weekly Comics Sunday magazine from July 21st (Issue 8/4) 1987 – May 10th (Issue 5/24) 1988. Despite only running for 9 months, the manga clocked in at a rather hefty 719 pages and was collected into 3 volumes by Man Sun Comics the same year.
Set in present day Tokyo (Which of course was the 80’s back then!) the story revolves around a rather incumbent fellow by the name of Harusuke Shiraishi. At first, Harusuke appears to be like any other young guy in his 30’s but, it’s soon revealed that he is in fact the 27th generation successor to the long forgotten Hikage-ryu school of Ninjutsu.
Before long, we learn that the Hikage-ryu was once a very well respected Ninja clan throughout Japan but it’s name was thrown to the dirt when its rival clans, The Iga and Koga, agreed to join forces and enlist the help of Demons to overthrow the hapless Hikage-ryu. When the barrier between the Human and Demon world was destroyed, the then current Hikage-ryu grandmaster and 3rd generation successor of the school, Sounsai Shiraishi laid his life on the line to protect the Human world by fighting the formidable Demon lord in a battle that would last 5 days and 5 nights. Despite his best efforts, Sounsai eventually fell prey to the Demon lord and was torn from limb to limb. From that day on, feeling responsible for allowing the Demons to invade the human realm, the Hikage-ryu disbanded and went into hiding out of shame…
Fast forward several hundred years to present day Tokyo and the now current successor, (27th generation) Harusuke Shiraishi, lives in a Love hotel with his elderly Aunt who herself is the lone remaining female Hikage-ryu ninja. Of course, being a ninja alone hardly pays the bills so it’s down to these two to make a quick buck wherever they can. The solution? A detective agency!
Well, as you’d expect with a family lineage running as far back as the Hikage-ryu, their detective work doesn’t involve seeking out human targets, rather their field of expertise is called upon by victims of unexplainable phenomena. In other words, Demons!
Thus sets the backdrop to our story. Harusuke is driven by the desire to make as money as he can whilst his Aunt harbors a very deep seated yearning to clear the Hikage-ryu name and avenge their brave ancestor, Sounsai Shiraishi. Harusuke’s nonchalance coupled with his Aunt’s persistence creates the backbone of the story as they often come to blows with hilarious consequences.
In the opening chapter, Harusuke meets a young school girl called Yuriko who has been assaulted by a Demon in her sleep. Harusuke does the right thing and saves her whilst simultaneously destroying the monster that attacks her but things take an uncomfortable turn for the worse when he bills Yuriko for his services and she is unable to pay. Harusuke insists that if she can’t foot the bill, she has no choice but to move in with him and work off her debt. Bringing her younger brother Yuta with her, the Hikage-ryu residence is increased to 4 people. Yuriko is soon put to good use when Harusuke discovers she’s a virgin. How, you may ask? Well, simply put, Virgin Urine (otherwise known as “Royal Water”) is like Kryptonite to Demons. One splash and they are goners!
Naturally, Yuriko soon becomes Harusuke’s most valuable resource and it’s not long before the minions of the Demon world recognize this fact. Alongside dealing with his usual everyday cases, Harusuke also has to keep a close eye on Yuriko and protect her virginity for the sake of humanity. Meanwhile, his Aunt is constantly nagging him to seek out the Demon lord himself to exact revenge but, after hearing all the stories, Harusuke is understandably hesitant about doing so. Despite his sheepish attitude however, a series of events occur that leave him with little option but to face the Demon lord and clear the Hikage-ryu’s tarnished reputation once and for all…
According to Toshio Maeda himself, this story wasn’t particularly popular among readers at the time of its serialization so, after much going back and forth with his editor, it was decided that he should change the backdrop of the story from a typical ninja/demon scenario to that of a political setting! Maeda explained to me that he was pretty against the idea at first but as soon as the manga changed its direction, the readership skyrocketed. Political themed stories, it seemed, was very much in vogue among Japanese salarymen in the late 80’s!
You’d be forgiven for expecting the manga to change in tone completely after having to make such a radical overhaul to its theme but, surprisingly, the storyline doesn’t suffer one bit! This is mainly due to the fact that Maeda was able to skillfully weave together an elaborate story involving leading politicians becoming possessed by Demons in a last ditch effort to take over the country. The character development of each of the main protagonists was heavily fleshed-out enough to ensure that the storyline didn’t suffer and, as a result, the story ends with a nigh-on apocalyptic finale without a single loose-end in sight!
Like much of Maeda’s work, Black Hooded Maverick never saw an official release outside of Japan which means fans wishing to read this title will have to rely on good old Amazon marketplace and pick up a used copy. The GOOD NEWS, however, is that Toshio is actually planning on making the manga available to read in both English and Japanese to Tentacle Club members over on his official site! If you’re dropping by his site, be sure to read this rare title – you won’t regret it!
Here are the original Japanese covers for all three volumes: