Chibi Usagi? Can it be? And what sort of adventures might he have with his friends? Find out in Chibi Usagi: Attack of the Heebie Chibis from IDW Publishing!
CHIBI USAGI: ATTACK OF THE HEEBIE CHIBIS
Writer: Julie and Stan Sakai
Artist: Julie Sakai
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Cover Price: $10.99
Release Date: June 30, 2021
Previously in Chibi Usagi: The title character and his friends, Chibi Tomoe and Chibi Gen don’t have a care in the world, besides catching an eel for dinner. The fishing doesn’t exactly work out, but they meet a stranger who needs help. Little do they know that they are going on an adventure!
IT’S A BIG WORLD OUT THERE
Chibi Usagi: Attack of the Heebie Chibis is the all-ages graphic novel you didn’t know you needed. This is not a story about Usagi Yojimbo as a child. This is literally Chibi Usagi in his own (very cute) world that feels like a fantasy version of feudal Japan and is delightfully written. It is a full-length graphic novel, so it is a self-contained story which would be wonderful for introducing middle-grade readers to this world.
It opens with the three friends, Chibi Usagi, Chibi Tomoe, and Chibi Gen, on the riverbank pulling in a trap they made to catch an unagi (a freshwater eel). They shake the eel out of the trap – and it slips out and hits Chibi Usagi on the head before starting to slither away. After a desperate, but short, chase, the slippery eel escapes and Chibi Usagi falls in the river. There is a lot of humor and fun in this book, often slapstick, which gives the whole world a light-hearted feel.
The eel gets away, but they find a log with a strange lump of clay on it – a lump of clay that talks and asks for their help. It’s a little clay person called Dogu, and he needs to be built up again. The friends get clay from the river and Chibi Tomoe fixes his body. Then Dogu tells his story. He and his people live in the ancient forest and work in their mine, basically mining clay and playing in the mud. But the Salamander King with his band of Heebie Chibis captured them and now forces them to work in their own mine for him. Dogu escaped to try to find some mighty warriors to help him. It was a difficult trip – Dogu’s clay dissolves in water, and cracks in too much heat.
After a long journey along the river, up to the top of a gorge, and across a narrow rope and wood bridge, they reach Dogu Forest. It is dark and creepy, and suddenly they find themselves surround by Heebie Chibis! (They are fierce and adorable at the same time. I love them.) They grab Dogu and try to run off with him, but Chibi Usagi attacks (with his wooden sword), and Chibi Tomoe insists that they won’t be bullied. They scare the Heebie Chibis off and run after them.
There is more adventure to be had as our heroes come face to face with the fire-breathing Salamander King, the biggest bully of them all. This is a book that is all about friendship, teamwork, and using your brain even when you also have awesome martial arts skills. To top it off, there is a delightful back up Usagi Yojimbo story where he is transported to the world of Chibi Usagi briefly.
SO MANY TOOTHY HEEBIE CHIBIS!
As you might expect, the art of Chibi Usagi: Attack of the Heebie Chibis is cute, fun, and colorful. While there is some simplicity in the linework of the settings, there is enough detail to give them a lot of character and scale. The walk along the river leads to a tall, foamy waterfall. To get to the top, the friends have to climb a huge stairway that ends up being even taller they they expected – and providing opportunities for humor. Dogu Forest is full of pink trees, deep water where interesting fish live, and large toadstools. There is a classic bit where Usagi Gen feels he is being watched. When he isn’t looking, we see several pairs of eyeballs in the bushes. When he turns around, of course they all vanish.
I love the Heebie Chibis. They are as strange and colorful a group of monsters as you will see, and no two are alike. To make them appear menacing, they all have toothy mouths and angry looking eyes. (As another backup feature, there is a page showing you how to draw your own Heebie Chibis.) The encounters with these monsters allow for a great mix of action and humor, with associated goofy expressions on their faces.
BOTTOM LINE: A TRUE DELIGHT
Chibi Usagi: Attack of the Heebie Chibis is terrific. It’s an adventure story that has plenty of danger without being overly scary and emphasizes positives like friendship by example rather than explanation. The art is so fun it makes me want to try to draw my own fan art of Chibi Usagi. Or maybe some Heebie Chibis. I think a lot of younger readers would really enjoy this one. I sure as heck did.
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Chibi Usagi: Attack of the Heebie Chibis
When a little clay Dogu is in trouble and needs help, Chibi Usagi and his friends answer the call!