Taka by Ryan Jampole

Oh my goodness, I am so obsessed with this manga-style graphic novel, I literally finished it with cathartic tears streaming down my face!

Our heroine Taka is a self-styled Notorious Delinquent. Having grown up on the mean city streets alone, she has no friends, no interest in developing any, and only really cares about one thing beyond survival: getting the Golden Mekku from one of her city’s claw machine games. She’s actually just about to snag one when she’s rudely interrupted by Gator, a low-level gang leader with the hots for Star, a young reporter. Taka accidentally saves Star while beating up Gator’s goons, so is deeply annoyed when she turns back to her game and discovers that someone else has grabbed her Golden Mekku while she was otherwise occupied.

While in hot pursuit of perhaps the only claw machine in the city that might still have her much-desired prize, Taka stumbles across something hidden and ancient… and accidentally sets an entire bevy of monsters free. Luckily — or otherwise given Taka’s antisocial tendencies — she’s also released the antidote, as well as awakened the science priest who’d spent ages guarding it. Science priest Meg explains that the things Taka set free were chimecha, robot monsters in the shape of screws that possess people and turn them into mecha-villains. Having accidentally ingested said antidote, Taka is now bonded to the Hero Metal that turns her into the Mech Fighter, the only being capable of defeating the chimecha and imprisoning them once more.

Given that she’s a Notorious Delinquent, Taka has zero interest in taking up the mantle and saving humanity. But the call of heroism is irresistible (or rather the plea in the eyes of the cutest dachshund ever,) and soon enough Taka is learning more about her new abilities and fighting the chimecha in order to save the world.

It’s been a while since I’ve read such an engrossing manga and, honest to goodness, I would read many more volumes of this! Taka is such a wonderful dirtbag heroine, and I’m ngl, I was screeching for her to and Star to kiss already in the Blizzard chapter. As a Swallows And Amazons girl, I was also living vicariously through Star during the Ocean chapter. Idk if Ryan Jampole intends to write more books about Taka and co, but I sincerely hope so.

Unlike traditional manga, this book reads from left to right. While the other orientation has rarely impeded my reading, I do want to give mad props to Mr Jampole’s excellent pacing and blocking. The breakouts make so much of the action and plot clear, and the characters are all so expressive and adorable. I’m curious as to how this book would look in color, but am honestly just so thrilled to have it at all. It’s funny, sweet and surprising, and made me believe even more than I already do in how redemption can come to anyone, even the most resistant.

Taka by Ryan Jampole was published March 19 2024 by IDW Publishing and is available from all good booksellers, including

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