Hen Kai Pan by Eldo Yoshimizu is an incredibly imaginative speculative fiction about the end of the world. Five powerful entities seek to end humanity, three hope to do so to save the planet, the fourth… not so much, the fifth is stuck in the middle. Continue reading to get my take on this unique exploration of the consequences of humankind’s negligence and abuse of the Earth.
Dismayed by the havoc wreaked on the Earth by humankind, its five guardian spirits decide to act. But as they argue amongst themselves on what the judgement should be, one enraged spirit, Nila, becomes determined to take matters into her own hands, forcing the remaining four to unite in a desperate final battle to prevent her from wiping not just humans, but all life from the face of the planet.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Atmosphere and Plot
The overall outlook of this graphic novel is incredibly bleak. I mean, we are discussing the end of humanity. The only thing up in the air is how for these entities. I think that is part of what makes Hen Kai Pan interesting in that it is not that the characters are actually attempting to save the human race; It is beyond saving.
While there are the five entities, described as guardian spirits, our main character is Asura. Initially a pawn of the spirit, Nila, who seeks to end humanity through violent means, Asura eventually joins forces with the other three spirits to protect the planet.
Art & Representation
I really enjoyed the cultural representation that seems to be present throughout the graphic novel. The spirits originate mostly from different Asian and African belief systems and the novel frequently moves locations around the world.
The watercolor and greyscale help to really engrain this bleak atmosphere in the novel. There is not a lot of text and dialogue in Hen Kai Pan. In fairly large swaths his art exclusively carried the story along. I think this emphasizes the importance of the Earth and nature throughout. Side note: if reading this in a digital format, be sure you have the capability to read it in a two-page format. Many scenes took up the entire two pages.
This is a graphic novel with very grim speculation about the end of the world. Hen Kai Pan provokes thoughts on the value of and damage wrought by humanity. The artwork is beautiful and many could serve as individual works of art. If you want to read a graphic novel with a very clear and deeper level to it, Hen Kai Pan is an easy choice.