This Looks Cool: Yoshimizu’s Hen Kai Pan

Hen Kai Pan story and art by Eldo Yoshimizu | Published by Titan Comics

Some earth activists wear Birkenstocks, and some wear leather, swig bourbon and smoke Che cigarettes. Yoshimizu falls into the latter category. The author of Ryuko and the illustrator of Gamma Draconis has created a new manga that grapples with the pressing issues of our times. Hen Kai Pan, in Yoshimizu’s words, is a response to “issues such as climate change, food crises and deforestation.”

The idea for the story started with a question: What if the Earth had a will of it’s own? What would happen if that will manifested, how would it react to humanity and the destruction that we unleash on the planet? Hen Kai Pan tells the story of Earth’s five guardian spirits as they grapple with the question, what to do about humankind. As they argue about the solution, one of them Nila decides to take matters into her own hands. In biblical style, she decides to wipe the planet clean of not just humans, but all life in general.

I wish I could post some of Yoshimizu’s colour illustrations for Hen Kai Pan, but copyright laws prevent me. He has a bunch on Twitter, though, so you can check them out there. What I can post are some interiors from the manga. The first thing that attracted me to Hen Kai Pan, back before I knew the premise of the story, was the universality of the characters. I was drawn to an illustration of a beautiful black woman with three heads and six arms. I was intrigued by the image and took note of the name Hen Kai Pan. Later, I came across an illustration of what looked like a young Inuk woman, then another picture that looked like a portrait of an indigenous man, perhaps from South America. All were connected by the name Hen Kai Pan.

I was honestly surprised that a manga artist was working on a manga that featured people of colour. I have shelves of manga, and only one series has POC characters. I was also attracted to Yoshimizu’s art style. I really love the use of ink wash in his panels. The technique really allows him to capture various skin tones, and it lends a softness and realism to his work, especially when he is rendering animals. Hen Kai Pan is slated to be released this week on April 12th. Hopefully my busy work schedule will abate enough to allow me to write a longer review of the manga once I’ve read it. Fingers crossed!