Black God (黒神 Kuro Kami?) is a Japanese-Korean manga series written by Dall-Young Lim and illustrated by Sung-Woo Park. Square Enix publishes the manga in Japan's bi-monthly seinen magazine Young Gangan. The story is initially set in modern day Tokyo, then changes to the island of Okinawa in the middle of the story. The word "Black" in the title refers to the character Kuro as it means black in Japanese. "God" in the title refers to the fact that Kuro is a superhuman or a Tera Guardian. In France and other French-speaking countries and territories, the manga goes under the name Kurokami: Black God.
The manga is created entirely by a Korean manhwa team led by both Lim and Park. They would occasionally make fun of the fact that none of them were fluent in Japanese in omake segments drawn at the end of each manga volume.
Black God was among four manga titles licensed by Yen Press along with Zombie-Loan, Alice on Deadlines and Spiral: Suiri no Kizuna when it was announced by their panel at the 2007 New York Comic Convention. Nine volumes are already released with a 10th volume scheduled for a August 2010 release.
Keita Ibuki is a 19-year-old independent and struggling freelance computer programmer who, with two of his friends, is developing and trying to sell a video game program to big-time video game companies in Tokyo. While trying to stay afloat and survive financially with money being given to him by his 21-year old childhood friend Akane Sano. (In the anime, he is an ordinary high school student.) He has a chance meeting on one night with a high Mototsumitama named Kuro while eating alone at a ramen stand. He gives her his dinner, a bowl of ramen, and tries to protect her when she is attacked in an ambush by an unknown Tera Guardian. Keita loses an arm during another fight between Kuro and another Tera Guardian, but Kuro is able to save his life by exchanging his arm for hers since she has enhanced healing abilities like all Mototsumitamas. (In the anime, his heart is injured and their hearts are exchanged instead.) This creates a contract between them, which makes her more powerful than before. However, Kuro warns Keita that they need to be together all the time because her heart will become necrotic if it is away from the main body.
As Kuro stays with Keita and gets acquainted with him while meeting with other Tera Guardians and their human masters, they are targeted by the strongest Tera Guardian clan of the East, the Shishigami (Lion God) Clan in an attempt to kidnap Akane and bring about the destruction of the coexistence balance, which Tera Guardians are supposed to protect. Meanwhile, Keita is determined to find out why his mother died after seeing her double as a young boy and to find out who is responsible for trying to destroy the coexistence balance on Earth.
- The main character. As a child, he and his mother met a person who looked exactly like her. The next day, she died. Years later, he's a struggling video game programmer. One day, at a Ramen house, he met Kuro, offered her food and his story began there. He does not appear to be aware of Akane's feelings for him.
- In the anime version, Keita is portrayed as an ordinary high school student. Unlike his manga counterpart he is neither extremely arrogant nor openly antagonistic of Kuro. He does not physically assault her either to express his displeasure and finally unlike his manga version Kuro trades their hearts not their arms when forming a contract. He is a sub (substitute) in the anime, but it is unknown in the manga whether he is a sub or a root.
- Keita's partner. As a child, she was princess of the Tera Guardians. However, tragedy met up with her when her most cherished brother slaughtered her whole tribe. She came to the human world to stop him. Her manga version fights using boxing having learned it from a former professional boxer while her anime version does not have any particular style. Both however use an Exceed which massively increases her offensive power. In the anime, her exceed is the Mega-exe, though in episode 16 it changes to Giga-exe when Keita and Kuro connect their tera to become one. She seems to care deeply about Keita, but it is not quite clear in the manga if she holds romantic feelings toward him yet. However, in the anime, she professes her deep love for him toward the end of episode 22. She is a reincarnation of one of the three parts of masagami.
- Keita's childhood friend. Her doppleliner is Reishin's partner, Yuki Kaionji. She has romantic feelings for her childhood friend, Keita. In the anime, she is later to be revealed to be Reishin's contractee after the holy land appeared, and also known to be the ultimate master root.
- Kuro's dog. It is often shown stealing food from Kuro's plate causing the master and pet to launch into one of their fights.
- Her real name is Maria. After she is rescued by Steiner from "alter egos", who killed her younger brother, she asks Steiner to make a contract with her to make Steiner stronger. Her childlike appearance is the result of a mutation caused by her contract with Steiner; it severely slows down her physical growth and aging process. As a veteran contractee, she has gained considerable experience and a keen insight. She possesses several combat accessories called "thousands", but only two are shown in the manga. One is the Hexa Ring she wears to create the Hexa Shield which blocks attacks. The other one is the ring she gave to Keita. In the omake, it is revealed that the contract between them has lasted for a century. In the anime, she was rescued by one of Steiner's split images during the climax of Steiner and Reishin's showdown. She later forms a contract with Mikami Houjou to avenge the death of Steiner and Bernhard. In the manga, she and Steiner are missing after their infiltration mission to the Kaionji base of operations. In Chapter 71, however, it is shown that she is alive after being rescued by one of Steiner's image but loses her left leg and all of her memories. In Chapter 76, however, she regains her memories and forms a contract with Mikami Houjou.
- A high Tera Guardian of the German High-Council. He prides himself on his unparalleled combat skills that single him out from the many high Tera Guardians employed at "The Noble One." He also possesses nerves of steel, those don't prevent him from getting his personal feelings mixed up in his duties. His "Exceed: Stampede" splits his body into four clones with equal mass and power to attack the enemy. Though the clones follow the command of the original body, they can also judge the situation of the fight autonomously. In the anime, he dies during the fight at Pure Island. In the manga, he is presumed to be dead after their infiltration mission.
- A Tera Guardian belonging to Kuro's clan. He is quite strong but tries to avoid getting into fights as much as possible. In Episode 13 of the English Dub he is voiced by Taliesin Jaffe but every other appearance he is voiced by Wil Wheaton.
- Yakumo's contractee. She is a main root who escaped from the Kaioinji group when she learned they were planning on conducting experiments on humans like her.
- One of the two survivors of the Hima clan. She is one of the twins of the former leader whose entire clan was killed by Reishin and Hiyou in their attempt to destroy the Tera Stone. In the manga, Kakuma's contractee is Keita's grandfather Nagamine Ryuujin. Kakuma sacrifices her life and turns into the tera stone after the original tera stone was destroyed by Hiyou. Kakuma's Exceed is Shining Gallop which takes the form of a white galloping horse. In the anime however, she was sacrificed in order to annihilate the barrier and open the path to the Pure land, the island holding the Terra stone.
- Kakuma's sister. She shares a very strong connection to her sister, realizing at once when Kakuma was killed. In the manga, she was left in the protection of The Noble Ones under Bernhard.
- A Sanshinryon, the rough Korean equivalent of a Tera Guardian, she came to Japan to star in a TV show, but due to her naivety got conned of most of her money and had her luggage stolen, which also included her recommendation letter and directions to the TV studio. She eventually ended up freeloading at Keita's house after trying to cook PuniPuni for a meal. She is highly skilled and owns an artifact "Thousand" sword capable of banishing spirits.
- Kuro's Brother. He is the central antagonist for most of the series. He is the creator of the Doppoliner system. His mother, the priestess of his Shishigami (Lion God) clan told him of her prophecy that either he would lead the tribe into prosperity and everlasting order under his rule as "a bringer of peace" or would be "a bringer of destruction" destroying all in his path. During the fight at Pure Island, he is betrayed by Kuraki in episode 12 of the Anime and he returns after his betrayal from Kuraki. His contractee is Akane, which they formed the contract when the holy land appeared.
- He was Keita's best friend named Sawamura during his junior high school years. While investigating the death of Keita's mother, he discovered the Doppleliner rule and approached Reishin to offer his services. In the anime, he no longer shares Reishin's perspective on the new world and consequently betrays him. His contract is with Raiga. With Reishin's demise, he has been promoted by the Chairperson.
- She is the daughter of the chairperson of the Kaionji group. She desires to become a master root in order to surpass her brothers and to form a contract with Reishin. However, she is only a sub of Akane Sano. She died in a helicopter crash when she and Akane escaped in the hotel.
- The Terra guardian with whom Daichi has a contract with. As a surviving member of the Hima clan, he seeks revenge against Reishin. His Exceed is the Shiddin sword.
- A Tera Guardian who has a contract with Shinobu. His Exceed acts on liquids, allowing him to either form bullets or stakes or to make his enemy's body explode using the blood. In the manga, he died after Kuro performed an exceed on him. However, in the anime, his body is recovered by Kuraki who drains his terra afterwards.
- The sub of Keita's mother. She is a Minus/Negative Root capable of absorbing other humans' terra and luck. She made a contract to escape from death under the Doppleliner rule.
- A Tera Guardian of the Ginko clan. Her Exceed fortifies her physical attributes increasing both offensive and defensive abilities. She works for the Kaionji group in exchange for the medicine her sub-type contractee requires to survive. After the death of her contractee, she forms a pact with Excel.
- Tera Guardian/Mototsumitama: God-like beings charged with maintaining the balance of existence. However, they can become corrupt which result in conflicts between them.
- Doppeliner: one of three people with identical bodies and minds who share the same fate. Every normal human being begins as a doppeliner. If two of them meet, they die. The remaining luck and fate of the two go to the remaining person, called The Root, giving them unimaginable good luck. In the anime, this system was revealed to be a curse placed on humans by the Masagami.
- Minus/Negative Root: When an Alter Ego kills the doppel liner that should have become the root, all the remaining luck flows into the Alter Ego, but it is negative luck, and a Minus Root has to constantly suck out Tera from others in order to survive, as his Tera will continue to diminish.
- Contract: A pact or a bond made between a human and a Mototsumitama through sharing limbs. In the manga Kuro exchanges left arms with Keita to save his life and unwillingly formed a contract,while in the anime Kuro exchanges her heart after Keita was hit.
- Synchro: The greatest initiation of a contract, usually when both partners have a shared will. When synchro is reached, a Tera Guardian's power multiplies. However synchro is really strenuous on the human partner because the human shares all injuries the Tera Guardian receives.
- Exceed: Abilities used in fighting by the Tera Guardian once synchro has been initiated. Each Tera Guardian has a unique Exceed, and some may be dangerous to the human partner, due to the high use of tera.
- Tribal Ends: Humans who have been given Tera Guardian powers by Tera Guardians.
- Tera: Spiritual life force that inhabits all life-forms. Mototsumitama usually form contracts with humans with high amounts of tera because it enables them to use exceed more often.
- Alter Ego: A human who has met his doppeliner, yet has not died. Alter egos disrupt the coexistence balance. Mototsumitama, who are in charge of keeping the balance, carry out the deaths of alter egos to protect the coexistence balance.
- Thousands: Relics made by the Mototsumitamas of the old, that are given to humans as a means of self defense. By channeling their tera, these relics release specific effects (i.e. Excel's Hexa Ring creates the Hexa Shield which blocks attacks or heavy gravitational pull). It also has the ability to transfer tera from one contractee to another.
- Pure Place ( also known as Holy Land): A desolate area which few humans visit which is surrounded by a barrier made by the Tera Guardian to keep away humans and preserve the tera flow, keeping it pure.
- European Alliance (also known as "The Noble One") : An alliance of four Tera Guardian groups in Europe, which was established with the goal of supporting fellow Tera Guardians, extinguishing Alter Egos and preserving the coexistence equilibrium. At present, they manage all of Europe, Central Asia, and part of Africa. At first the Tera Guardian's stance was not to interfere in human society at all, so they differ from the Tera Guardians of Japan and Asian countries who keep to that doctrine faithfully as they secretly have relations with major power structures of human society (like royalty, dynasties, religion, etc.)
The names of the four Tera Guardian groups in "The Noble One" are: Norman Majestic Council, The Celt Alliance, Roman Cognate and the German High-Council.
When Black God was being created, written and illustrated by Lim, Park and their manhwa team, it was done entirely in Korean first before it would then be translated from Korean to Japanese as it was meant to be published and serialized for the Japanese manga market and not for South Korea. The other works of Lim and Park had been done for the manhwa market in South Korea.
So far, the manga adaptation of Black God has been serialized with 11 bounded volumes already released to the public by Square-Enix in Japan and in magazine form by Young Gangan. In North America and in the United Kingdom, Yen Press has already released Black God in English with 9 volumes translated and released with the upcoming 10th volume scheduled for a August 2010 release. Its first volume was released on October 17, 2007.
Black God has also been released in France and also distributed in French-speaking countries and territories by Editions Ki-oon, but it was marketed under the title Kurokami: Black God from its original name. It was also released in Taiwan and distributed in Chinese-speaking countries and territories by Ching Win Publishing Co., Ltd., translated in the Traditional Chinese language.
The anime adaptation of Black God was produced by Sunrise, directed by Tsuneo Kobayashi with Reiko Yoshida as the series' supervisor and Hiroyuki Nishimura as the series' animation director and chief character designer.
Among the seiyūs involved in the Sunrise production include Noriko Shitaya, who will play as Kuro, and Daisuke Namikawa as Keita. Other seiyū for the production include Sayaka Ohara as Akane Sano, Yukari Tamura as Excel and George Nakata as Steiner. Its title is called Kurokami: The Animation or Black God: The Animation. The anime aired on Japanese TV is on January 2009. Kurokami: The Animation aired first on January 8, 2009 simultaneously in Japan on TV Asahi and in the United States on ImaginAsian, followed by South Korea on January 9, 2009 in AniBOX.
The voice actors, hired by Bandai Entertainment for its US broadcast include Jason Anthony Griffith, who plays Keita, Laura Bailey as Kuro with Julie Ann Taylor playing as Akane and Stephanie Sheh as Excel.
Script error Eye on Anime's review praised the manga due to its storyline, but has criticized Keita for having most of the reader's initial attention due to his arrogant and disrespectful attitude and character. Mania noted Black God for having good character development and creative fight scenes, not to mention that it has an excellent and thrilling storyline for readers to follow into without any trouble.
About.com's review said that Black God was good for the combination of various genres including action, drama, suspense, humor combined with the theme of the supernatural in its story and at the same time, questions the need of having fanservice in the manga as the review insists that it is not necessarily needed in the first place. UK Anime Net's Review said that the art is "solid, imaginative layout. It never looks rushed and the paneling flows smoothly." Comic Book Resources pointed out that the fanservice being portrayed in the manga was rather amusing and not offensive as it was the main source of Black God's humor.
So far, Comics Village has been the only one to criticize Black God heavily for having questionable aspects of the storyline being left out initially without being given the chance to have them fully explained to its readers, which can make them a bit confused. On the other hand, it singles out the art and character details at its strong side, with the latter being greatly detailed without being overdone with the "use of speed lines for action scenes and moments of emotion."
- Official Anime website (Japanese)
- Official Anime website (English)
- Official Manga website (Japanese)
- Official Manga website (English)
- Black God (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Kurokami: The Animation (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Black God wiki on Wikia (English)ko:흑신ru:Kurokami