Published by Pyramid comics on February 11th 1988, Ogre Hunter (Japanese title: 淫獣伝説：鬼狩り – Injū Densetsu: Oni Gari) is a short, 79 page supernatural thriller set in present day Tokyo.
The story begins when a young lady by the name of Saeko Nogawa suddenly finds herself being targeted by a vengeful Ogre spirit. No sooner does she lay eyes upon the Ogre for the first time, a mysterious man appears out of nowhere and escorts her a nearby park. There, the man sets up a protective circle in the middle of the park and awaits for Saeko’s would be assailant to show himself. Lo and behold the fearsome Ogre soon comes for Saeko but his advances are stopped dead in their tracks thanks to some strange magical powers that the stranger seems to possess. Ripping the Ogre’s left arm clean off, the attack is enough to ensure that the demonic beast flees the scene. Brushing himself down, the man introduces himself as Rinshiro, a dignitary from a 2000 year old Chinese imperial court charged with saving those affected by forbidden curses like the one Saeko has found herself under.
Enraged by his unexpected encounter with Rinshiro, the Ogre pays a visit to the man that summoned him. Here it is revealed that though the man wished to teach Saeko a lesson, he didn’t intend to summon an Ogre to kill her. His mistake in meddling with the dark arts not only binds him in contract with the Ogre but it also means that the demon can’t go back to his own dimension until he fulfills the contract and kills Saeko. In other words, Saeko is in big trouble…
Rinshiro escorts Saeko back to her home and insists that she washes her body clean of the stench of men. Whilst bathing, Saeko suddenly sees a swarm of miniature beasts closing in on her. In a panic, she calls out to Rinshiro for help who quickly banishes the swarm of ogre illusions. Immediately after doing so, the ogre spirit from earlier that evening reappears demanding why Rinshiro is standing in his way. Rinshiro addresses the Ogre by his real name of Fukoki, before revealing that he is actually the man known as Rinkenki of Gabizen temple. The famous Ogre hunter. Just hearing the name Rinkenki proves enough to cause Fukoki to panic but Rinshiro quickly seals Fukoki away with a powerful talisman. Putting some protective amulets on Saeko’s door to ward away any further attacks, Rinshiro sets about reversing the curse and finding the man responsible for summoning Fukoki. Before long, he finds the source of the curse buried at the root of a tree in a nearby cemetery. Whilst digging up the earth to reveal the curse, he is confronted by Yoshinaga, the man responsible for placing it there and summoning Fukoki. According to Yoshinaga, he met Saeko in a snack bar and soon fell in love with her. His love for her is unrequited though and when he discovered that she was seeing other men, he mistakenly summoned Fukoki out of jealous rage. As he is explaining his reasons to Rinshiro, an army of demons led by Fukoki suddenly appear from beneath the ground to attack Rinshiro incapacitating him and hanging him upside down. Panicked by the sudden demon intrusion, Yoshinaga panics and flees the scene leaving Rinshiro to his fate. Meanwhile elsewhere, another demon under the guise of a human breaks into Saeko’s home and attempts to have sex with her. Saeko defends herself by hitting the man over the head with a flowerpot which causes him to transform into his true demon form. Panicked, Saeko runs outside of her apartment into a busy road where she is hit by a car.
Yoshinaga visits Saeko in hospital to apologize for the trouble he’s caused her when a nurse suddenly appears to give Saeko a shot of strychnine in order to kill her. Yoshinaga knocks the nurse away from Saeko causing her to reveal herself as Fukoki. Enraged by Yoshinaga’s attempt to annul the contract he signed with him, he transforms into a 20 foot monster and begins to smash through the hospital ceiling and floors. No sooner does Fukoki begin his rampage, when Rinshiro appears on the scene. Fukoki attempts to burn Rinshiro by breathing fire at him but Rinshiro uses the attack to his advantage and throws a gas canister into the inferno causing a huge explosion. The explosion merely damages Fukoki as Rinshiro takes Saeko and Yoshinaga up to the roof to escape Fukoki. Fukoki quickly finds them and corners them atop of the burning roof. In a last ditch attack, Rinshiro launches his grappling hook at Fukoki. The hook wraps itself around the ogre’s neck and with a quick yank on the cord, Fukoki is cleanly beheaded. Just when Rinshiro believes that Fukoki is finished, his head suddenly floats into the sky and goads Rinshiro further by telling him that as long as Yamanaga has resentment in his heart, Fukoki can never be destroyed. Overcome with guilt, Yamanaga commits his final act of love by throwing himself from the roof. Yamanaga’s sudden death not only destroys Fukoki but also lifts the curse upon Saeko forever.
Though a short story, Ogre Hunter is one of my personal favorites among Maeda’s work. Despite having a remarkably low amount of sex in the story, it has a really solid pace to it and the artwork of many of the creatures in this manga is fantastic. Fukoki looks badass as well! Due to Ogre Hunter’s short page count, Pyramid comics also included 3 non-related one shots also penned by Maeda. These are “Injū Gari (淫獣狩り, Eng. title: Perverse Beast Hunter)”, “AMAZING Masami-chan (AMAZING雅美ちゃん, Eng. title: AMAZING Masami)”, and a two part story called “Meneko no kurenai shita (牝猫の紅い舌, Eng. title: Scarlet tongue of the female cat)”. Injū Gari is a very short story about a Detective named Azuma that is paid a large sum of money to track down a lady who’s put an evil curse on a wealthy old man. AMAZING Masami-chan is an equally short story involving a construction worker biting off more than he can chew when he haplessly has sex with a high school girl whose very DNA has been scrambled by all of her previous partners semen resulting in her becoming a horrific monster. The last of the three one-shots, Meneko no Kurenai Shita, is a simple revenge story about a young girl by the name of Noriko Matsumoto who seeking out a Yakuza member that killed her mother and raped her whilst she was still a minor.
Ogre Hunter is sadly out of print now but copies of this fun manga can still be found fairly easily online at the usual used book places like Amazon.jp or Yahoo auction. It’s great fun and if you’re into spooky stuff like me, you’ll certainly want to get track down a copy!