Title: Henshin
Author: Ken Niimura
Length: 232 pages
Publisher: Image Comics (27 Jan. 2015)


Anatole France wrote:

“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 hard, especially when it happens suddenly. More than that, pain it brings when you are navigating its instructions is excruciating. There are no manuals, no signpost. Just adaptation. Evolution. Sometimes, change is easy – when it offers an escape from an uncomfortable situation.

Henshin, by Ken Niimura, is a slice of life manga 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 new town to live 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, her relief at leaving the oppressive school setting. Another story reflects on immigrants and the effects of their hardships on the society. And there is one about one writer’s creative frustrations and inability to break through the publishing market.


Henshin is an unusually manga in that its tales does not follow conventional plots. Some of the stories 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 his work.

Henshin more like a social commentary, highlighting or shining a spotlight on aspects of people’s lives and what they do when changes meet 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



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