Akira Toriyama is best known as the creator of the Dragonball franchise. He has, however, done plenty of non-Dragonball manga that are super short (one volume) and a lot more kid-friendly. One of them is the comedy-horror themed Cowa!
Paifu, a half-vampire half-werekoala (yes) decides to go to a witch who has the cure that will help cure the citizens of his village from the monster flu. Along with his friends Jose and Arpon and a human former sumo wrestler Maruyama head west and get into a whole bunch of wild adventures.
The plot is a simple quest to get a cure to save people story, but Toriyama does a fine job of making these characters interesting. Paifu is an interesting protagonist who may be a troublemaker, but he cares about the people in his village. Maruyama is the most interesting of the bunch. Here’s an ex-sumo wrestler who quit because he killed someone in the ring (it was an accident) and is now hiding in a monster village. He comes off as a constantly pissed of oaf, but he genuinely cares about the monster kids.
If you’re expecting large scale earth-destroying fights, you’ll be disappointed. This manga is more like the light-hearted comedic early chapters of Dragonball. Fights are regulated to normal punches from normal humans with Paifu coming in to give a sucker punch here and there.
That doesn’t mean the action isn’t exciting. The fight scenes may be short but they don’t need to long. They’re also more on the comedic side (Maruyama using his sumo training to push people 100 feet from him) and Paifu turning into a werekoala whenever someone shoes him anything that resembles a crucifix and gets turned back whenever he sees anything round (don’t ask. Just roll with it.)
The artwork is the typical Toriyama we’re all familiar with. And yes, the old joke as seen in Dr. Slump still stands that Toriyama only knows hows to draw one type of female (change any of the DBZ females hairstyles and you’ll see what I mean.) And Maruyama looks like any other big oaf in a Toriyama manga. The difference here is that Toriyama (kinda) knows how to make them look like different characters. Take that as you will.
Cowa! is a fun manga by Dragonball creator with a fun story and characters. His art is either you like or hate it, but the manga is still fun to read.