by Zachary Clemente


A short story collection exploring life in modern Tokyo.

I feel like everybody has days that are just so important to them that can always be recalled; the feelings and emotions crashing back through as strong as ever. For me, one of these days is when I first read I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and Ken Niimura – I can easily remember exactly where I was, who was with me, and how I felt during it.

So this is super-exciting for me. Not because I expect the specific type of emotional fatigue that comes with reading (or re-re-re-re-re-re-reading) I Kill Giants, but because I really love Niimura’s work and desperately want more. It was mere days ago that I was saying to a friend that I’d love to see more of it and BAM – act of providence. Couldn’t ask for more.


Ken Niimura, artist on the acclaimed and award-winning graphic novel I KILL GIANTS (written by Joe Kelly), returns with HENSHIN. The short stories of HENSHIN present a unique vision of Japanese life, presented in English for the first time by Image Comics in January.

“Henshin” means “transformation” in Japanese, and in all 13 stories, Niimura shows how choices and events — whether momentous or seemingly insignificant — can change the lives of his protagonists.

“A transformation or a change is the most basic premise for a story,” said Niimura. “That’s why Henshin is about people in the process of change. I also chose this title hoping that I would also change for the better in the process of creation and improve my craft.”

Niimura’s imaginative storytelling finds its way into the emotional lives of his characters, from a kid with peculiar powers to a lonely girl finding her way in the big city to a salaryman out on the town.

Henshin is similar to a restaurant,” Niimura said of the collection. “I selected the ingredients for these stories from all the things I saw during my life in 2013 in Tokyo. I’ve tried to keep the natural flavor of each of these ingredients, sometimes adding some spices when needed. I hope you like the resulting menu, somewhere between comical, moving and fun.”

For readers who can’t wait to sample Niimura’s graphic feast, the entirety of one of HENSHIN’s stories, “Victory Sign,” is available to download.

HENSHIN is a Japanese-format graphic novel, which reads right-to-left. It will be in comic book stores on January 14 and in bookstores on January 27. It is available for pre-order now.

Here are the particulars and a few delightful preview pages

  • ISBN 978-1-63215-242-8
  • Diamond Comic order code NOV140576
  • 288 pages, paperback, black and white
  • $19.99






I’m going to post it again down here, definitely read the already available story: VICTORY. It’s really something else.