Juni Taisen: Zodiac War Vol 1 Review

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Twelve fighters enter, one fighter leaves—who will win the 12th Zodiac War?

Every 12 years, 12 fighters take the form of the Chinese zodiac and engage in a battle royale. With their strength and mysterious powers, they fight to the death and the sole survivor is granted the ultimate prize—any wish.

Eleven of the twelve fighters have gathered, and everyone awaits the final contender—Boar. She is strong, confident and a favorite to win the twelfth Zodiac War. However, this time, the rules have changed! The battle is limited to an abandoned city and all of the contestants are forced to ingest a deadly poison. Monkey tries to call a truce, but before she can the floor explodes, scattering all the fighters. Despite the chaos, one thing’s for sure—only one will remain standing.

Review

The Juni Taisen is a battle royale with 12 fighters taking the form of the Chinese Zodiac. What are they fighting for you ask? The ultimate prize, any wish. The setup will remind you of the Fate series and the Holy Grail War but only in that it’s a battle royale. There are no masters and servants in this world. Though one could argue that some of those in this fight are in fact servants of their family names.

What makes this series interesting enough to continue through is the use of the zodiac representations for each of the 12 fighters. The mix of ancient and moderns mythology makes for an interesting tale to tell. Juni Taisen is clearly aimed towards a shonen audience with the female characters in the mix but you can look past that.

The writer took the time to give each character a unique personality that is both their own and is laced with tendencies that match the zodiac character their represent. Things quickly get bloody as the fight starts and a few of the zodiac stand out. The rabbit, who has the ability to control corpses (Necromancy) is the craziest of the bunch. He immediately goes out and kills 2 of the 12 warriors before anyone else gets involved in the fight.

Monkey is another interesting one, her strategy is killing through peace. Not sure how will that is going to work out long term but we shall see in future volumes how her attempt at an alliance goes. We start to slowly learn the back story for some of our fighters which adds an interesting dimension to their character and their motivation for fighting in this war.

All in all Juni Taisen is an interesting enough premise to keep me reading more. There was also an anime adaptation of the series that you should check out as well.

Robert Prentice