In Shonen Jump’s The Hunter’s Guild, Little Red Riding Hood Seeks Mass Extinction

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Chapter #1 of The Hunters Guild: Red Hood by Yuki Kawaguchi, Adrienne Beck and Brandon Bovia, available in English from Viz Media.

The new Shonen Jump series The Hunters Guild: Red Hood is an action-packed reimagining of the Brothers Grimms' fairy tales, with a particular focus on the story of Little Red Riding Hood. In this version, Little Red Riding Hood is a member of the Hunters Guild, an organization dedicated to hunting down monsters such as werewolves, witches and vampires. These hunters are not doing this job for the sake of heroism or any notions of good and evil. They just want two things: to get paid and to bring these species to extinction.

Hunters Guild Red Hood chapter 1

From the beginning of The Hunters Guild: Red Hood, it's clear these hunters are morally ambiguous at best. Kasoka Village hires the Guild to rid them of a werewolf, but the Mayor becomes homeless to pay for their services. In this world, werewolves' origins are unknown. They seemingly aren't controlled by the full moon and their feast for human blood is insatiable once they've tasted it. Given the danger and the Guild's reliability at completing assignments, the Mayor's desperate self-sacrifice is understandable, but that doesn't make the cost any less exploitative.

Grimm, the hunter who comes to do the job, is the manga's equivalent of Little Red Riding Hood, though she shapeshifts between the little girl from traditional tellings and a buxom adult more reminiscent of the Tex Avery version. She teaches the village boy Velou about her job, and the two end up working together to kill the werewolf. By the end of the chapter, Velou is officially invited to join the Hunters Guild, but readers have been given ample reason to distrust the Guild's mission by this point.

According to Grimm, the Guild hunted dragons to extinction 500 years ago and now seeks to do the same for other creatures. Killing entire species, no matter how dangerous, isn't exactly the sort of thing most Shonen Jump heroes would take pride in. It might be one thing if these creatures were considered evil, but in a conversation that translator Brandon Bovia says might be one of the most important in the series, Grimm emphasizes that "there's nothing good or evil" about animals simply eating to survive. Potentially destroying ecosystems by wiping out apex predators, however, does not seem like a simple matter of survival.

The Hunters Guild: Red Hood definitely has promise. Yuki Kawaguchi previously worked as an assistant for My Hero Academia author Kohei Horikoshi, and there's a lot of MHA influence in the new series' art. There's a lot that can be explored in this dark fairy tale world, and it should be interesting to follow Velou and Grimm's future adventures -- even if we're not sure whether to root for their organization.

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