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Manga / Cowa!

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Cowa! is a manga by Akira Toriyama that ran in Weekly Shonen Jump from 1997 to 1998, a return to more whimsical and funny atmospheres after the end of Dragon Ball. This manga tells the story of a small village inhabited by monsters as well as humans and animals. One day, a mysterious disease starts to spread among the monster population, and it's up to three monster kids (Paifu, Arpon and José) to venture outside and search for the Witch who creates the cure for the disease. However, it is a long and perilous journey, and they ask the help of an extremely strong man, Maruyama Mako, thought to be a killer. The man is not really what he seems...

Cowa! is a fun little story, reminiscent of Doctor Slump by the same author, but with some elements that recall Dragon Ball (notably, some humorous fight scenes).

Cowa! contains examples of:

  • The Atoner: Maruyama. Once a famous sumo wrestler under the name "Katsukazan" ("The Volcano" in the English version) he accidentally killed his opponent during a match and left society ever since, living as a hermit in an abandoned boat near the place where the monsters live. He's seen by the monsters as a boogeyman of sorts.
  • Bad Is Good and Good Is Bad: One example is when José freaks Paifu out by pretending to be an angel of love and peace.
  • Berserk Button: Maruyama Mako's complete name is somewhat feminine, so he doesn't like to be called by first name, but do not call him "Makorin" (or "Makoleen" in the English version); it's a child's name!
  • Blob Monster: Baroava ("Baroaba" in the English version), the monster that protects an endangered forest by killing everyone that ventures inside.
  • Cannot Tell a Lie: Invoked by Paifu. He tricks Maruyama into bringing them to the Witch by telling him that, after their mission is complete, the monsters will give him a million yen ($10,000 in the English version) in exchange, and then adds that monsters can not tell lies. Of course, it's a lie...
  • Cool House: Paifu and his mom live in a Jack o'lantern-shaped one!
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: When our heroes finally get face to face with the Witch, she tells them that their long trip was totally unnecessary, since she ships the medicine all around the world and also accepts online payments! Cue Maruyama's rage.
  • Disappeared Dad: Paifu's, killed by hunters after his transformation into a were-koala.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Paifu steals a watermelon, and when his mom finds out, she buries him up to the neck in the field among the other melons...
  • Expy: Leonardo, the Witch's butler, is an expy of Hell king Dabura from Dragon Ball Z.
    • It can be argued that the three monster kids are somewhat expies of DBZ characters. Paifu can turn into an unstoppable hairy creature (much like the Saiyans turn into the Great Apes); Arpon has Piccolo's stretchy limbs and arrogance; José shares with Majin Buu both the ability to shapeshift and the cute, rotund appearance.
  • Fantastic Racism: Many humans are racist against monsters, despite having never seen one in the flesh.
  • Gasshole: José, however, he farts only when he's nervous.
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Actually, Quarter-Human Hybrid. Paifu is the son of a were-koala and a vampire woman.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Seems to be one of the themes of the manga. While some monsters act in a stereotypical "evil" way and think themselves to be bad while in fact they are annoying at best, humans are much worse in that regard. This is implied when Maruyama decides that the forest is better off being untouched by humans when he sees a creature that's been thought to be extinct, protected by the safety of the forest.
  • Retired Badass: Maruyama, a retired champion sumo wrestler who's still just as strong as ever.
  • Shout-Out: During their travel from the monsters' village to the mainland, Maruyama and the kids pass in front of a house that looks like Senbei Norimaki's, of Doctor Slump fame.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Arpon always thinks he's better than everyone.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Paifu can turn into a were-koala which is extremely strong, but also mindless and vicious towards everyone and everything.
  • Toilet Humour: José farts are the center of quite a number of jokes early on.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Baroava/Baroaba, being a blob creature, is apparently invulnerable, but the sound of whistling reduces him to a tiny version of himself with no powers, which gets his ass kicked by Maruyama.