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Manga / Kaiju No. 8

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Kaiju No. 8 (a.k.a. Monster No. 8) is a manga by Naoya Matsumoto, set in a near-future Japan. Kaiju attacks are ravaging the world and Japan is the hardest hit country by these catastrophes. In order to keep the people safe, Japan now has an elite force of Kaiju Fighters who wear Powered Armor that are deployed every time a Kaiju attacks. Hibino Kafka once dreamed of joining the Corps, but he's passed the age limit. Now he works in a Kaiju Cleanup Crew.

One day, a new member of the crew, Ishikawa, chastises him for giving up on his dream and asserts that he's going to join the Corps. He also gives Kafka the good news that they've raised the age limit and Kafka can reapply. The two form a strong bond once a Kaiju attacks and Kafka manages to hold it off for long enough for Ishikawa to come back armed and fight with him until the Kaiju Corps arrive. The two then resolve to join the Corps together.

However, things become more complicated when a tiny Kaiju-like parasite shows up in the hospital where the two are recuperating. It announces "I found you!" and promptly climbs down Kafka's throat. Kafka is then turned into a monstrous human-sized Kaiju.

Kafka briefly falls into despair, believing that he truly can't ever join the Kaiju Corps, but after saving a young girl and her mother from an attacking Kaiju he learns how to return to his human form. Outwardly, anyway. He and Ishikawa work together to keep his secret and join the Corps, but things won't be easy, as the entire country is on the lookout for the mysterious escaped monster, Kaiju No. 8, that Kafka's Kaiju form became known as. Worse yet is that given the evolving dangers involved in the Defense Corps job, Kafka has to more than rely with discretion on the advantages of his new powers to help turn the tides of war between Kaiju and humanity; and all while keeping that a secret from the latter.

An official English translation is available for free on Manga Plus. An anime adaptation was announced in August 2022, produced by Production I.G. It's scheduled to air on April 13, 2024. The PV can be watched here.

There is a Light Novel Spin-Off called Kaiju No. 8: Close Up! The Third Division that covers tales not covered in the main story which was also adapted as the Kaiju No. 8: B Side manga.

This work contains examples of:

  • 20 Minutes into the Future: The setting is a near-future Japan. Although day-to-day life seems to be the same as modern-day, the fight against Kaiju gave heavy development to the weapons everyone uses, with things like electrifying, freezing, and burning rounds coming from monster parts and highly advanced power suits.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Episode 1 of the anime adds more scenes of the first kaiju's arrival and it's subjugation, the work of the clean up crew, lengthens Kafka's solo interactions with the Yoju and his struggle when the small flying parasite Kaiju is altering his body after going down his throat.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: The story arc starting at the end of chapter 23, with the Defense Force's Tachikawa Base, where the Third Unit is stationed, under attack by the wyvern-type kaiju.
  • Alternate History: Kaiju attacks seem to have been a regular occurrence for a very long time in this world. Kaiju No. 2, which supplied Isao Shinomiya's personal weaponry, was eliminated in 1972, and Hoshina's ancestors were fighting Kaiju as far back as the 14th century.
  • Anything but That!: Of all the assignments in cleaning up Kaiju corpses, intestine duty is by far the worst for the obvious reason being that the workers have to endure the extremely foul stench of monster excrement. Kafka is reasonably not happy whenever he is thrown here.
  • Battle in the Center of the Mind: While fighting Kikoru's father Chief Shinomiya, Kafka loses control of his body, and the Kaiju starts getting the upper hand and threatens to kill Kikoru's father. He eventually manages to gain the upper hand and diverts a killing blow into a strike at his own core.
  • Big Bad: Kaiju No.9 is the most prominent threat that Kafka and the other characters have faced, even being the strongest and most dangerous of all the Kaijus.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • In chapter 7, Kafka reveals his Kaiju form to Kikoru when protecting her from an attacking Kaiju.
    • In chapter 17, Kafka does a last-minute save of Ishikawa and Iharu.
    • In chapter 29, Ashiro shows up in the nick of time, blasting the giant wyvern kaiju leader's arm off before it can kill a badly wounded Hoshina.
      • This ends up stopping Kafka from doing the same and revealing his Kaiju form. He's forced to do it anyway when the Wyvern Kaiju Leader makes the Yonju form an organic bomb to wipe out the base and even goes giant size to do so.
  • Big Good: Ashiro. Many of the characters who join the Kaiju Corps do so out of admiration for her. She's even described by Ishikawa as "the superhero of [their] generation".
  • Body Horror:
    • Parodied after Kafka's first transformation. He contorts his body in horrific ways and involuntarily pees from where his nipples should be.
    • Played straight with the mysterious kaiju that can disguise itself as a human, contorting and stretching out its neck when other people have their backs turned to it. It even involves this trope in its usual attack.
  • Censored for Comedy: The Kaiju guts that Kafka helps clean up early on are pixelated so we can't see what exactly they look like. Considering the series doesn't shy away from depicting gory violence against living Kaiju, the implication is that the guts are simply that disgusting. The anime changed it so only the brown excrement is censored.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: The suits the defense forces use are specifically tailored to give them the capacity to fight giant monsters. They draw extra strength from their users, though not all can unlock it, and their shield is an integral part of their defense capacity.
  • Continuity Nod: When Kafka is "internally wetting himself" in Chapter 23, it's shown as his Kaiju No. 8 form pissing out of his nipples again.
  • A Day in the Limelight:
    • Chapter 7 focuses on Kikoru and her background.
    • Chapter 29 does the same for Hoshina, showing what brought him to become Ashiro's partner.
    • Chapter 39 is an introduction to Narumi through Kikoru's eyes.
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: A Running Gag with Kafka, whose Butt-Monkey and dorky character almost always deflates any badass moment he might have been on a roll with.
    Kafka (having just One Hit Killed a Kaiju): If you're able to resurrect, let's see you try to come back from that.
    [Remains of Kaiju begin wriggling]
  • First-Name Basis: Kafka and Ashiro, which gets the former into immediate trouble when he fails to use honorifics when speaking to her in front of the other recruits. Ashiro noticeably catches herself when she was about to address him by first name as well.
  • Foreshadowing: Kikoru is surprised and blushing when Kafka angrily praises her, hinting at her eventually revealed Daddy Issues and later crush on Kafka.
  • Ghost Memory: There is a rare phenomenon that new wearers of a Numbers Weapon can see visions of the core Kaiju's memory of the previous user.
  • Hero Worship: The little girl that Kafka saved during his first night as No. 8 absolutely idolizes him, and is fully confident that no matter what No. 9 comes up with, Kafka will be there to stop him and protect everyone. At one point, she's shown drawing a picture of Kafka in his monster form killing hostile monsters and, later on, it's revealed that she even has a toy plushie of Kafka's monster form that was most likely handcrafted by her mom.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Kaiju No. 10 is down, thanks to Mina intervening, making it look like the chapter is all wrapped up... until the Wyvern Kaiju clump together to make a giant living bomb, forcing Kafka to transform out in the open to keep it from killing everyone in the base.
    • Nearly happens again when Kafka's initial bout of Heroic Willpower proves insufficient to take back control of his body from the Parasite Kaiju. Then Kafka remembers Mina's words to him...
    • Kafka, Kikoru and Narumi manage to successfully destroy the two Number 9's... Except neither of them were the real deal. The main Kaiju no. 9 was actually using those clones as decoys to keep the strongest fighters away while it infiltrated HQ in order to assimilate Isao and gain control of Number 2's powers.
    • And, related to the above, after Isao manages to expose No. 9's core, ripe for a killing blow, the strain the battle put on his body catches up to him at a critical time, allowing the kaiju to successfully absorb him.
  • Hunter of Monsters: The members of the Kaiju Defense Corps. Kafka and Ishikawa dream of being this, but Kafka is a particularly tough example in that his childhood friend is already a star member of the Kaiju Defense Force.
  • Logo Joke: The Toho Animation logo in the PV has Kafka's kaiju color scheme.
  • Man of Kryptonite: In chapter 81 it's revealed that the Kaiju #11~15 all have abilities that make them the perfect counters for the Defense Corps. members they are facing.
    • Kaiju #11: Captain Gen Narumi's ability to predict movement relies on reading the electrical signals in the body. The water #11 manipulates doesn't have those signals, meaning Narumi can't predict its attacks.
    • Kaiju #12: Vice-Captain Soshiro Hoshina is a close combat dual sword specialist. #12 can turn both of its own arms into blades and is an even more proficient close combat specialist.
    • Kaiju #15: First Division Officer Kikoru Shinomiya has amazing combat potential and talent, but still has many insecurities due to her upbringing. #15 has Psychic Powers that allow it to Mind Rape her and dredge up those insecurities to drive her to despair.
  • My Sensors Indicate You Want to Tap That: Kikoru's suit alerts her to her rising pulse rate after Kafka compliments her. She very quickly yells at it for needless information.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Kafka reveals himself to be Kaiju No. 8 to save everyone from a massive afterbeast bomb. Afterwards, Ashiro comes to take him into custody. Partially averted when it's revealed that everyone, including Mina, still sees him as human, although they still have to convince the higher ups and... well, he's STILL in custody and under lockdown.
  • Notzilla: The Kaiju the first unit go up against in Chapter 39 is a classic Godzilla lookalike.
  • One-Hit Kill: Kafka manages to kill a Kaiju in one punch, causing it to disintegrate in layers.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Hoshina notes that Ashiro is behaving out of character lately, mostly unbeknownst to him a lot of it is in regards to her finally getting to see Kafka begin to catch up to her in joining the Corps.
  • Organic Technology: The Powered Armor and some of the ammunitions of weapons that the Japanese Defense Corps uses come from the biomaterials of the kaiju. The command want to kill the captured Kafka to make powerful weapons from his core, and he only barely evades this fate because Isao decides Kafka is far more useful as a weapon alive.
  • Orifice Invasion: The Kaiju parasite gets into Kafka's body and transforms him this way in chapter 1.
  • Power Incontinence:
    • After his first transformation Kafka destroys the hospital room he's in because he Does Not Know His Own Strength. When he opens a door he crushes it.
    • Three months after becoming a Kaiju, Kafka still doesn't have full control over his transformation, and can involuntarily return to Kaiju form.
  • The Promise: As children, Kafka and Ashiro swore to be side-by-side when they join the Kaiju Corps. Years later, Kafka has seemingly failed to keep his end of the bargain while Ashiro rose through the ranks without him. He later manages to join, making his fulfillment of the promise more and more imminent. Even after revealing himself as Kaiju No. 8, Ashiro warmly welcomes him to continue striving to be beside her.
  • Rank Scales with Asskicking: In the Defense Force, the higher ranked a person is, the stronger they are. Vice Commander Hoshina is a Master Swordsman with a maximum 92% release rate. Commander Ashiro has a maximum 96% release and specializes in ranged weapons that are more effective against larger (and higher ranked) kaijus than Hoshina's swordplay. The chief of the Defense Force, Isao Shinomiya, is said to be humanity's strongest and is able to wield a power equal to a mega monster.
  • Red Baron: As noted in the background information, any Kaiju that proves tough to neutralize because of power or durability or some other factor is given a numerical designation. So far, the only ones seen in the manga are Kaiju No. 8 (Kafka), Kaiju No. 9, Kaiju No. 10, and (post-humously) Kaiju No. 2
  • The Reveal: Chapter 9 reveals there's at least one Kaiju who can turn into a human, and he's infiltrated human society.
  • Running Gag:
    • Kafka always has some kind of Determinator declaration, badass moment, or One-Liner that immediately loses all impact due to him instantly walking back on it and/or the reality of the situation setting in causing him to eat his own words.
    • Mina seems to have a habit of making people do push-ups as punishment for speaking without permission.
    • Hasegawa kicking Narumi to "motivate" him to get to work whenever he's slacking off.
  • Shout-Out: The protagonist is named Kafka, and his transformation is brought about by an insect-like creature while he's still in bed.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: When fighting Chief Shinomiya, the fight gets so intense Kafka loses control in his Kaiju state to his inner kaiju. Note, however, that this is a downplayed example, as Kafka is just as strong when he's in full control of his power; the reason he put up such a violent fight against Shinomiya isn't because his inner kaiju taking control made his stronger, but rather because it made him fight without holding back.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • Kafka barely manages to pass the physical exam to join the Corps due to his fellow recruits being young teens, along with coming from military families or top of their classes when they signed up. In fact, he actually fails the entrance exam due to factors including the above and only managed to join as a cadet because Hoshina thought he was funny, besides noticing discrepancies in Kafka's vitals when he secretly transformed to save Kikoru and wanting to look into it. While he gets accepted into the Corps proper later on, it's only after proving how he can be an asset.
    • Kafka is not an instant expert with his new kaiju form, having difficulty controlling his power and maintaining his old human form initially. This also means that when he gets cornered by Hoshina while transformed, he can't risk attacking him for fear of seriously injuring him since he can't control his power enough.
    • Happens again later on when Kafka is forced to transform out in the open to protect the Defense Force base from a Yonju bomb. While everyone is initially shocked (save for those who knew the secret), this doesn't magically erase the fact that he's been fighting on their side the whole time or that he blew his cover specifically to save them. Meaning they believe he's still human and plan to gather evidence to prove so.
  • Tempting Fate: Early Kafka utterly destroys a recently resurrected Kaiju with one punch. The force rips away most of its muscles before shattering its skeleton. He then says "Let's see you try and come back after that, pal." before it attempts just that. Fortunately it runs out of steam before it could make any meaningful progress.
  • They Would Cut You Up: Kikoru is eventually let in on Kafka's secret, and she confirms that the best he can hope for if he tells everyone he's a Kaiju hybrid is being left alive while being experimented on daily. This fate gets floated when the higher ups discuss what to do with Kafka once he's captured.
  • Time Skip: Chapter 3 skips to three months after Kafka gets his powers. Chapter 11 then skips two months after the entrance exam and enlistment.
  • Trick Bullet: Standard part of the Defense Corps armament, with things like explosive ammunition, freezing bullets, electric bullets, and so on.
  • Tsundere:
    • Kikoru has clearly developed a crush on Kafka, but her pride causes her to be dismissive of his compliments and affections no matter how obvious it is that she enjoys them.
    • Ishikawa also counts as a tsundere himself. While he tends to be blunt, he does really care for the well being of others and shows gratitude for those who have helped him, Kafka being one of the people he's come to respect. In fact, he even acts like a traditional tsundere when he denies caring if Kafka goes through with trying to join the Corps again after encouraging him.
    • Ashiro, as well. It becomes especially blatant after Kafka finally manages to join the Corps that her stoic aloofness towards him is obviously more out of professional discipline than any real malice.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Kafka, Ichikawa, and Kikoru are the only ones aware of Kafka being Kaiju No. 8 and are thus the series' three protagonists. That is, until Kafka is forced to out himself by transforming in front of the entire base in order to save everyone from a massive organic bomb.
  • Villain Forgot to Level Grind: Played with. When Kaiju No. 9 returns for a rematch against Kafka he has apparently made himself stronger, including growing thicker skin, literally, and has a second core. However Kafka recently gained a better understanding of his powers and by extension better control. He was effortlessly able to defeat No. 9 and most of the fight was taken up by Kafka struggling to activate his powers due to his own fear of it.
    • Unfortunately, it ends up completely Averted. The real No. 9 had actually gotten even stronger and the ones sent to fight Gen and Kafka were clones made so he could attempt a Xanatos Gambit. The real No 9 manages to defeat and absorb Isao, escaping before any of the Corps can even reach him.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Kafka and Ashiro were Childhood Friends who promised each other to join the Kaiju Corps to avenge their destroyed hometown. However, they drifted apart as Ashiro rose through the ranks while Kafka got stuck on the cleanup crew and repeatedly failed his applications. By the start of the series, they're barely on speaking terms and Ashiro appears dismissive of him.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Chapter 31: Kafka reveals himself as Kaiju No. 8 to save everyone from an afterbeast bomb. In the next chapter, Ashiro comes to take Kafka into custody, who was injured in the effort and can't even try to run.
    • Chapter 52: Isao is killed and merged with Kaiju No. 9.
  • The Worf Effect: Chapter 4 introduces a Child Prodigy recruit to the Kaiju Force, Kikoru Shinomiya. Two chapters later, another humanoid Kaiju is introduced who takes her down in one shot. Downplayed in that she's able to keep fighting and hold off a revitalized Kaiju long enough for everyone to get to safety (and for Kafka to arrive).
  • You Are Number 6: Kafka's called "Kaiju No. 8" because he was the eighth major Kaiju to appear that year. The humanoid Kaiju who turns up later gets called "Kaiju No. 9". Crosses over with Red Baron since these are Kaiju that managed to avoid being neutralized in their first appearance and are considered incredibly dangerous.