Title:                Henshin

Author:           Ken Niimura

Length:           232 pages

Publisher:     Image Comics (27 Jan. 2015)



Anatole France said:

“One must never lose time in vainly regretting the past nor in complaining about the changes which cause us discomfort, for change is the very essence of life.”

Change can be hard, especially when it happens suddenly. More than that, the pain it brings while you are navigating its aftermath is excruciating. There are, sometimes, no manuals, no signposts. Just adaptation. Evolution.

However, change is sometimes easy and can be a breath of fresh air, especially when it offers escape from an uncomfortable situation.

Henshin, by Ken Niimura, is a manga/graphic novel consisting of 13 short stories with a main theme which explores life transitions – how people deal with life changes and other unforeseen circumstances.


Slice of Life:

In one of the story, Kitty and Me, a young unhappy woman arrives in a town to stay with a relative but has to kill a person in self-defence shortly afterwards. Another tale shines a light on a graduation ceremony of a bullied girl and her relief at leaving her oppressive school setting.

Another story reflects on immigrants and the effects of their hardships on a society that discriminates against them. And there is a humorous telling of a writer’s creative frustrations and his inability to break through the publishing market.Blog


Henshin is an unusually manga/graphic novel in that its tales does not follow conventional plots. Some of the stories seem to end abruptly after a major plot event. This is a good technique for some particular short stories and Ken Niimura made good use of it for this book.

Henshin is more like a social commentary, highlighting or shining a spotlight on aspects of people’s lives and what they do when life throws unexpected equations at them. The stories are funny, yet carry a tinge of sorrow. There are some pages where comprehension is difficult. I will chalk this down to translation issues (from Japanese to English), rather than poor writing.

The art is decent. Ken Niimura’s style focuses more on the whole than the detail. Having said that, the facial expressions are okay and convey enough emotions for me to follow the narration.

Henshin is not for everyone but it is good enough to draw you in and make you think, for a second or two, about modern life struggles.





Good story-telling technique

Decent artwork




Few incomprehensible passages



Many thanks to Diamond Book Distributors for review copy