Glitch by Shima Shinya Volume 1 CoverGLITCH Volume 1
Written & Illustrated by: Shima Shinya
Translated by: Eleanor Summers
Lettered by: Abigail Blackman
Published by: Yen Press (print/digital)
Demographic: Seinen
Genre: Manga (Japan), Mystery, Drama

Rating: ⭐ 4.5 / 5 – highly recommended!

Shima Shinya first made waves in the manga world when they won the 25th Japan Media Art Festival’s New Face Award for Manga in 2022 for LOST LAD LONDON – a gripping murder-mystery that any fan of BBC crime dramas would drool over (and I’m serious – if you like BBC’s Luther, you’ll loooove Lost Lad London). Yen Press released Lost Lad London as a 3-volume manga series in English, and now brings readers a new manga series that’s also worth a look.

GLITCH continues Shinya’s trademark of taking a simple mystery story and blending it with a diverse cast of characters, a refreshingly unique art style, and a tranquillity one might find on a quiet night-time stroll. GLITCH takes us on a journey through the eyes of two siblings – Minato and Akira – as they move to a seemingly haunted town of strange shadows, mountain-sized foxes, and wing-headed shopkeepers. They soon discover these “features” or “glitches” are commonplace. Something as ordinary as a park bench or a bus stop.

Glitch by Shima Shinya (published by Yen Press)
Panel from Glitch Volume 1 (Shima Shinya, Yen Press)

Just as their newfound Investigation Club begins to seek out answers, the pair meet Hirata-san: a strange glitch who might just be the key to uncovering the mystery their new town holds. A mystery that, in itself, might just be the beginning of something bigger than they could’ve imagined.

GLITCH perfectly captures the childhood melancholy that comes with moving to a new and unfamiliar place. That awkwardness of not knowing all the shortcuts or cool spots, and having to pretend not to see all the shifty, shadowy figures flickering in and out of your sight.

Fortunately, these shadows aren’t all in your head. Everyone can see them. They’re just not terribly important or interesting to everyone. For Minato and Akira – and all the friends Akira makes at her new school – their origins become a fascination. Especially after Akira catches one spying on her through her bedroom window, and after trying to catch it, notices a peculiar object it left behind.

Glitch by Shima Shinya (published by Yen Press)
Panel from Glitch Volume 1 (Shima Shinya, Yen Press)

There’s a lot of layers to the mysteries in GLITCH that keep you hooked from cover to cover. Giant mysteries like who the glitch spying on Akira is, where they come from, and why Minato and Akira keep seeing enormous towering glitches when most of the glitches people experience are small. Then you have more interpersonal mysteries that make you curious about the backstories of these kids: why do they call their mother by her first name? Why did they move to this town to begin with? And if the move was a “family decision”, why is Minato so broody about it?

I have to take the time to really praise how well-crafted the characters of Shima Shinya’s manga are. They put so much care into their creation and making sure there is ample representation not just with respect to ethnicity, but gender identity as well. LOST LAD LONDON’s two main characters were a British-Indian student and an older Black-British gentleman, and really captured some of the struggles that come with facing racism in British society.

GLITCH introduces a half-Hispanic student named Kei Kinjou-Diaz who is part of Akira’s investigation club. The main character, Minato, also uses they/them pronouns, which isn’t explicitly stated (except in a tweet from Shinya clarifying this for Yen Press) but is respected by their family and everyone else without question.

Glitch by Shima Shinya (published by Yen Press)
Panel from Glitch Volume 1 (Shima Shinya, Yen Press)

Even with so much mystery, characterization, and ethereal imagery densely packed into the first volume, it’s a bit of a surprise that it’s also a quick read. For each little question answered, a couple large questions pop into frame. And just when it’s really getting good, the first volume comes to an end.

Part of what initially grabbed me about Shima Shinya’s manga is how much their art style reminds me of another of my favourite manga-ka, Natsume Ono (House of Five Leaves, ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept). Shinya similarly pulls focus onto their heavily stylized characters with thicker lines and minimal shading, while letting blank spaces in the background really make them pop. 

More than that is in almost fewer lines than some other artists, Shinya has managed to weave so much personality into these characters. Even the simplest details or their expressions alone really gives their characters that extra dimension that lets you truly connect with them.

Glitch by Shima Shinya (published by Yen Press)
Panel from Glitch Volume 1 (Shima Shinya, Yen Press)

If you’re looking for a dreamy mystery tale, nothing will satisfy that craving more than GLITCH. With the second volume due out in December, you won’t want to sleep on this series, or this manga artist. I’d bet my entire manga collection that Shima Shinya will go down as one of the modern day manga greats, and I can’t wait to see what comes from them next.

GLITCH by Shima Shinya is available now from Yen Press in physical and digital formats. It was previously serialized in Comic Beam Magazine (Enterbrain) in Japan, and has since been completed as a 4-volume series.