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Cowa cover.jpg
Cover art for the tankōbon release of Cowa! by Shueisha.
GenreAdventure,[1] comedy,[2] supernatural[3]
Written byAkira Toriyama
Published byShueisha
English publisher
MagazineWeekly Shōnen Jump
Original run19971998
Wikipe-tan face.svg Anime and Manga portal

Cowa! (こわ!, Kowa!) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Akira Toriyama. It was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump in 1997 and 1998, with the fourteen chapters collected into a single tankōbon volume by Shueisha. The story follows the child monsters Paifu, José and Arpon, and the human Maruyama, as they travel to get medicine to save their town from a deadly flu. It was Toriyama's first major project following the conclusion of Dragon Ball. Viz Media released the single volume in North America on July 1, 2008.


Paifu and José decide to go to the house of a human rumored to be a murderer.[4] Paifu notices what appears to be an orange spirit out in the sea and mistakes it for their friend. They arrive at the light source only to find that it was a torch on a raft belonging to the world-renowned sumo wrestler Maruyama, whom they feared. In spite of becoming acquainted, Maruyama teases Paifu and picks up two sticks producing a cross gesture to scare him off believing he, like some vampires in stories, fear a cross. On the contrary, this action forces Paifu to transform into a rampaging were-koala.[5] His rage is halted by José, who shape-shifts into a round object to revert him back to normal.[6] José tells Maruyama that Paifu can not look at a cross figure for more than three seconds before transforming.[6] When asked by Maruyama about Paifu's father, Paifu replies that he was shot to death in a human city when he shape-shifted into a were-koala.[7] After getting to know a little about Maruyama's past, it turns out that he is not as frightening as rumored to be.

José (background left) and Paifu as they advance to steal a watermelon from a field.

Back in the village, Paifu and José begin to notice a strain of influenza that is spreading in the village affecting only the monsters. On their way to school, they are surprised by Arpon, a monster who considers Paifu to be his eternal enemy. The three exchange a few words[8] which led to Arpon challenging Paifu to a sparring match of kung fu.[9]

Paifu's mother later tells him that school has been canceled for a while due to the serious flu.[10] He celebrates by going to José's home and runs into the village doctor. The doctor realizes that the flu strain is the Monster Flu (お化け風邪, Obake Kaze), a disease that affects only monsters and kills the victim in a month's time.[11] When the two arrive at the Rodriguez residence to see José's ill father, the doctor's suspicions are confirmed to everyone there and reveals that the cure to the Monster Flu can be created by a witch that resides at the top of Horned-Owl Mountain.[12] The doctor also tells of a forest that one must cross and that a terrible monster dwells along the forest path which leads to the mountain. Due to the adult monsters being sick, Paifu and José volunteer to make the trip and are accompanied by the former sumo wrestler Maruyama, who in actuality, was deceived by Paifu who claimed that the villagers would pay him 1,000,000 yen for his troubles.[13] As the trio are about to leave, Arpon joins the team, exclaiming that he wants to be a hero for the villagers.[14]

With plenty of rest and recuperation, the team pass through a city and arrive around a forest area located by Horned-Owl Mountain. As they near it, Arpon suddenly falls ill by the Monster Flu.[15] They come to a nearby family for aid; in the midst of their troubles, Paifu and Maruyama save them from being attacked by a gang. In exchange, the family cares for the sick Arpon while Paifu, José and Maruyama take off for the forest. Before they leave, they are told by the family of the forest monster's supposed weakness, whistling.[16]

Upon entering the forest, Maruyama has José whistle since he is apparently the only one who can, while Paifu practices his whistling since José will eventually get exhausted.[17] José, instead of getting fatigued from whistling, suddenly falls ill to the Monster Flu as well.[18] Their fear of the monster finding them becomes a reality and they are attacked by the forest monster Baroaba. Maruyama holds his own against the behemoth and tells Paifu to start learning how to whistle immediately before they are killed. Although several attempts had been unsuccessful, Paifu finally prospered in whistling and Baroaba is literally downsized by the sound,[19] proving the weakness true, and is pounded by Maruyama. Before Maruyama finishes him off, he discovers that Baroaba only attacks to protect the forest's rare wildlife; Baroaba apologizes for the misunderstanding and decides to help them get to their destination, the witch's house.[20]

With help from Baroaba, who stays to care for the ill José, Paifu and Maruyama finally reach the summit of the mountain.[21] They then encounter the witch's servant, an oni named Leonardo. After solving a riddle, they are allowed to meet the witch and fortunately retrieved the influenza medicine. On the way down the mountain, Maruyama accidentally slips and falls off. Paifu makes a daring rescue by learning flight at the last minute[22] and saves Maruyama and himself from immediate death.[23] On the way back, Maruyama talks of how he is going to buy a boat with the money he makes forcing Paifu to reveal that he had lied to him about the payment of 1,000,000 yen. Maruyama admits that he is disappointed, but not infuriated as Paifu saved his life.[24] The four are praised as they returned to the village. One month later, Paifu, José and everyone else from the village meet Maruyama out at sea with a ghost boat that all fixed up together.[25]


Paifu and José meeting Maruyama.
Paifu (パイフー)
Paifu is a half-vampire half-werekoala.[5] When he observes any cross-like figure for more than three seconds, Paifu shapeshifts into a crazed and powerful were-koala[5] and can only change back to his normal state after looking at a round object.[6] Despite being part vampire, he can not fly because he skipped flying practice.
José Rodriguez (ホセ・ロドリゲス, Hose Rodorigesu)
José is a ghost that can fly, turn invisible and change shape.
Mako Maruyama (丸山真虎, Maruyama Mako)
Maruyama is an overweight human feared by even the monsters in town. He was a sumo wrestler with the ringname "The Volcano" (活火山, Katsukazan, lit. "Active Volcano") until killing an opponent during a match. Paifu gives him the nickname "Makoleen" (マコリン, Makorin).
Arpon (アーポン, Āpon)
Arpon is a monster boy the constantly challenges Paifu to fights and loses.
Doctor (お化けの医者, Obake no Isha)
The old and forgetful doctor of Batwing Ridge.
Baroaba (バロアバ)
The monster that lives in the forest at the foot of Horned-Owl Mountain. He is large with a rubber-like body, unless he hears whistling, in which case he shrinks and loses the rubber-like property.
Leonardo (レオナルド, Reonarudo)
The assistant of the Witch on top of Horned-Owl Mountain. He either fights or gives a riddle to anyone trying to enter the Witch's house.
Witch (魔女, Majo)
Witch living on top Horned-Owl Mountain and maker of the medicine that heals Monster Flu.


Cowa! has its origins in BUBUL of Demon Village (魔人村のBUBUL, Majin-Mura no Buburu), a one-shot Toriyama drew for the revived "Jump Readers' Cup" competition in 1997. Toriyama, who had done only a few one-shots since finishing Dragon Ball in 1995, won handily; it was his first win since Pola & Roid took the top spot in 1981. Shortly after Toriyama's win, a new series by him was announced to run in Jump. He re-tooled the character designs and setting of his one-shot to suit this new series, as detailed in the issue before its start.[citation needed]

Despite previously claiming to be done with weekly serials, Toriyama decided to draw Cowa! when he learned his editor would be Kazuhiko Torishima and that he could do things his own way. Unlike both Dr. Slump and Dragon Ball, where he never skipped an issue, he drew Cowa in a three-weeks-on, one-week-off pattern, which afforded him time to rest and work more slowly. He also stated he wanted to draw everything himself, forgoing the customary use of an assistant, even though he had pain in his arm. The story came about from wanting to take a storybook type approach and have the main character be an "unlovable grumpy guy."[26]


Written and illustrated by Akira Toriyama, Cowa! was serialized in Weekly Shōnen Jump magazine from issue #48 of 1997 to #15 of 1998. The fourteen chapters were collected into one tankōbon volume that was released on May 1, 1998 by Shueisha.[27]

Viz Media licensed Cowa! for English release in North America on July 1, 2008.[28] Their graphic novel edition retained the first chapter in color.[1] It has also been released in other countries, such as in France by Glenat, Spain by Planeta DeAgostini, South Korea by Daewon C.I. and Malaysia Comics House.

Chapter list[edit]

No.Japanese release dateJapanese ISBNEnglish release dateEnglish ISBN
01 May 1, 1998ISBN 4-08-872557-3July 1, 2008ISBN 1-42151-805-8
  • Chapter 01 : "Paifu Goes on an Errand" (パイフーのおつかい, Paifū no Otsukai)
  • Chapter 02 : "The Unhaunted House" (オバケのきもだめし, Obake no Kimodameshi)
  • Chapter 03 : "Paifu and Arpon" (パイフーとアーポン, Paifū to Āpon)
  • Chapter 04 : "Monster Flu" (オバケ風邪, Obake Kaze)
  • Chapter 05 : "Off to Horned-Owl Mountain" (みみずく山に出発, Mimizuku Yama ni Shuppatsu)
  • Chapter 06 : "Mako "The Murderer" Maruyama" (やっぱりこわい丸山真虎, Yappari Kowai Maruyama Mako)
  • Chapter 07 : "The Road Goes On" (旅は順調, Tabi wa Junchō)
  • Chapter 08 : "The Volcano Awakens" (活火山うごく, Katsukazan)
  • Chapter 09 : "The Scary Monster in the Woods" (恐怖の森のモンスター, Kyofū no Mori no Monsutā)
  • Chapter 10 : "Makoleen, the Strongest Man in the World, Struggles" (世界最強の男マコリン苦戦, Sekai Saikyō no Otoko Makorin Kusen)
  • Chapter 11 : "At the Witch's House" (魔女の家到着, Majo no ie Tōchaku)
  • Chapter 12 : "The Medicine Is Ours!" (特効薬いただき!, Tokkōyaku Itadaki!)
  • Chapter 13 : "Go, Go, Paifu!" (がんばれパイフー, Ganbare Paifū)
  • Chapter 14 : "Makoleen's Boat" (マコリンの船, Makorin no Fune)

Reception[edit]'s Deb Aoki listed Cowa! as the "Best New All Ages Manga" of 2008, calling it "clever and charming enough to entertain adults as well as younger readers."[29] Anime News Network's Carl Kimlinger disagreed, claiming the plot is not complex enough to appeal to adults. He also wished Viz would have kept the other few chapters that were originally colored as such instead of just the first, as those particular ones were hard to follow in black and white. However, he wrote that "Makoleen's character elevates what might have been a simple children's adventure to a gentle fable about acceptance and understanding." and praised the humor.[1] A.E. Sparrow of IGN gave the series an 8.6 out of 10 and referred to it as a "self-contained mini-epic." On the humor he said "the jokes come at you unapologetically and you're either going to catch them or write them off."[30] Viz Media's English release of Cowa! was nominated in the "Best Publication for Kids" category at the 2009 Eisner Awards.[31]


  1. ^ a b c Kimlinger, Carl (2008-08-17). "Cowa! GN - Review". Anime News Network. Retrieved 2014-03-21.
  2. ^ "The Official Website for COWA!". Viz Media. Retrieved October 28, 2017.
  3. ^ "VIZ Media Highlights An Array Of Spooky Manga Series To Keep The Scare In Halloween". ComiPress. October 6, 2008. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  4. ^ Cowa! chapter 2, page 18
  5. ^ a b c Cowa! chapter 2, page 26
  6. ^ a b c Cowa! chapter 2, page 28
  7. ^ Cowa! chapter 2, page 29
  8. ^ Cowa! chapter 3, page 35
  9. ^ Cowa! chapter 3, page 38
  10. ^ Cowa! chapter 4, pages 47-48
  11. ^ Cowa! chapter 4, page 50
  12. ^ Cowa! chapter 4, page 52
  13. ^ Cowa! chapter 4, page 57
  14. ^ Cowa! chapter 4, page 58
  15. ^ Cowa! chapter 7, pages 98-99
  16. ^ Cowa! chapter 9, page 120
  17. ^ Cowa! chapter 9, page 122
  18. ^ Cowa! chapter 9, page 123
  19. ^ Cowa! chapter 10, page 142
  20. ^ Cowa! chapter 11, page 157
  21. ^ Cowa! chapter 11, pages 154-155
  22. ^ Cowa! chapter 13, page 177
  23. ^ Cowa! chapter 13, pages 178-179
  24. ^ Cowa! chapter 14, page 190
  25. ^ Cowa! chapter 14, pages 197-198
  26. ^ Toriyama, Akira (2008) [1998]. Cowa!. Viz Media. p. 201. ISBN 1-42151-805-8.
  27. ^ "COWA!" (in Japanese). Shueisha. Retrieved 2014-03-21.
  28. ^ "COWA!". Viz Media. Retrieved 2014-03-21.
  29. ^ Aoki, Deb. "2008 Best New Manga". Archived from the original on 2013-01-23. Retrieved 2009-08-20.
  30. ^ Sparrow, A.E. (2008-06-24). "Cowa! Review". IGN. Retrieved 2014-03-21.
  31. ^ "Manga Nominated for 2009 Eisner Awards". Anime News Network. 2009-04-07. Retrieved 2012-11-17.

External links[edit]