Review: Naoki Urasawa Shows Off His Comedic Side In ‘Sneeze’

by James Ferguson


A collection of short stories from the creator of Monster with just as many twists and turns? Yes, please.


While we’ve come to know Naoki Urasawa’s work in tense books like Monster and 20th Century Boys, there’s another side to the creator. That is on full display in Sneeze, a collection of short stories from Urasawa exploring real life experiences in music and tales of the fantastic featuring everything from talking mice to fortune-telling homeless people.

What struck me about Sneeze was the sheer variety included. There are all kinds of stories in this collection and despite the different topics, they all have a positive vibe to it. This is true even when the plot takes a darker turn, as seen in the first tale, “Damiyan!” featuring an ominous kid with the ability to inflict bad luck on others. You think you know where it’s going with its twists and turns as a mafia henchman tries to take advantage of this supernatural power, yet it comes back around and hits you right in the feels.

There’s a good amount of humor in Sneeze including many laugh-out-loud moments. This comes through not only in the plot but in Urasawa’s artwork. The title character of the aforementioned “Damiyan!” is a great example of this. He’s got these big wide eyes, like a deer in headlights and doesn’t seem to have much in the way of facial expressions. If this is the son of Satan as it’s implied, he’s probably falling short of expectations.

I’ve experienced the twists and turns of Urasawa’s artwork first hand in Monster. While Sneeze is less tense, I was still kept on my toes with these stories. This also extends to the tales based on his real life experiences. Every single story is riveting.

As with most anthologies, it’s hard to pick a favorite in Sneeze. If I had to choose, it would be a toss-up between “Kaiju Kingdom” following a super fan of giant monsters who ventures to the home in Tokyo and “Solo Mission” putting an interesting twist on super heroes fighting alien creatures. Honestly though, they’re all good. This is a solid collection through and through. It’s sure to bring a smile to your face.

Sneeze from VIZ Media is currently available at your local comic shop, bookstore, and Amazon.

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