Graphic Novel Review: Never Open It: The Taboo Trilogy by Ken Niimura

Never Open It: The Taboo Trilogy by Ken Niimura. Translation: Stephen Blanford. Rewrite: Josh Tierney and Antonio Núñez Sánchez. Yen Press, 2021. 9781975325831. Publisher’s Rating: OT Older Teen.

Ken Niimura’s art always has a lot of energy. It’s somewhere between mainstream manga and cartoony, super polished and extremely sketchy. Here he combines his quick, well-placed lines with just the right amount of red to tell three stories inspired by Japanese mythology. Teens and adults will love this book.

In “Never Open It” a young fisherman, Taro, rescues a sea turtle and is rewarded by Princess Otohime with a trip to her undersea Dragon Palace. He doesn’t pass up the offer, which is a mistake, though life in the palace is awesome. When he wants to return home he’s given a red box that will allow him to go back there whenever he wants, though he can never open it. (He meets an old man who once went to the Dragon Palace, too, and who opened the box he was given.) In “Empty” two young monks are warned by their master that to stay away from a pot that contains deadly poison. They do not listen. In “The Promise” a young man helps a wounded bird and then meets a beautiful woman who becomes his wife. She earns money by weaving cloth on his mother’s old loom, but makes him promise never to open the door to the room while she’s weaving. (Of course the young wife is the bird. It did not end as I thought it would, and the red color really played a part.)


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