Okko – Cycle of water (comic book)

Okko has been a favourite of mine for about a decade now. (It suddenly dawns on me that I’m advancing in years*)

*and still reading comic books.

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Okko is a French comic. Its written and illustrated by Humbert Chabuel (who goes by the nom de plume HUB) and then colored by Humbert Chabuel and Stephan Pecayo. Some lengthy period of time would pass after the French version was released and then eventually we would get an english translation. The release schedule was jerky, sporadic and frustrating. But since all four cycles are now available this has become a bit of a mute point. It published by Archaia Studios Press which stables another one of my favorites, Mouse Guard.

Okko follows the story of a Ronin-esque type demon hunter called Okko and his various misadventures. He is joined on his sojourn by his friend (maybe retainer is more apt) Noburo, a half demon warrior and a alcoholic monk called Noshin. The monk also gets an apprentice at the end of the first cycle.

The story takes place in a fictional realm called Pajan which mimics medieval Japan, specifically the Sengoku jidai period. Its meant for older audiences as it is often quite violent, bloody and features some nudity (sometimes all in the same panel). Which means twelve year old me would have LOVED it!

Older more discerning Joey likes Okko for a myriad of reasons other than the occasional display of boobs. It’s different from an American style of comic book. Not in a good or a bad way, it just has a different feel and flavor. I’ve heard Okko referred to as Franco-manga. (Which I thought was quite clever) It also has a lot more panels per page than your average Americana. (This makes it feel quite busy, but you get used to it quickly)

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It’s a very pretty comic and I really like the flow. It feels very cinematic and I was thoroughly entertained throughout. I also like the world build. It feels very solid, with its own intricacy, depth and mythology. If do have a criticism is that this fantastic world only serves as a simple backdrop. You never get to peel back any of the layers. That’s partly due to the main protagonist, Okko, who is a gruff, humourless… monster killer. He doesn’t have time to fuck around and smell the flowers. In fact you never quite get to understand Okko or what motivates him. Which I thought was pity. HUB spent a lot of time and effort thinking about his world, it deserved more glory.

The Japanophile in me loves this series. But I think it would a appeal to someone who just wants to be entertained, read a cool story and look at pretty pictures.