Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Tokkô: Devil's Awaken, vol. 1

By Tohru Fujisawa
Released in the US by TokyoPop

Slugline: Of course high velocity bullets fired a point blank do less damage than a sword...

This is another one of Tohru Fujisawa's titles, creator of the previously reviewed titles Rose Hip Rose, Rose Hip Zero and GTO: The Early Years along with the main GTO series.

In the near future, there has been repeated unsolved mass murder incidents in Tokyo. Oddly enough, the fact that sometimes several hundred people are found dead torn to pieces has gotten a lot of press attention, and the Tokyo police has formed a special division to help deal with the crisis. Ranmaru Shinda is graduating from the academy into these divisions, for he has a personal stake in the investigation into these mass murders, his parents was among the first killed in an incident were over 300 victims were found murdered 5 years ago.

Bwah? Sorry, even the US, over 300 killed in a single day without anyone apparently living long enough to call the police or anyone, would be mindboggling. And Japan, without a history of violent crime? I would expect that would tear the citizenry apart in fear and worry. But here it is just written off to possibly wild animals? In Tokyo? Tokyo has never looked very rural to me, and I don't think Japan is exactly brimming with large animals that can snack on humans. Later in the book when a police investigator tries to bring an odd theory to the attention of his superiors, he is written off as a kook. Look, by this time, after five years, I would think that the police leadership that still managed to keep their jobs would be willing to look into any explanation, no matter how kooky, simply because what is happening is so outside the norm. So the reality check here has bounced, and we can now sit back and enjoy this a pure fantasy.

Shinda has a sister that also survived the incident that killed their parents, mostly because they were both not home when it happened but discovered their parent's remains upon returning home. Their father was a policeman, so they both joined the police, but while his sister was satisfied on becoming a beat cop (and trying to set up her friends with her brother) Shinda wanted to find out what had really happened.

Not the least because he has been having dreams of a nude woman wielding a sword covered in blood, her image becoming ever clearer as time goes by. A dream that he tries to write off, of course, until he sees some of the special members of the Tokko, a special subdivision of their Riot Squad. One of them is way too young (well, 18 for a LT) and flirts with Shinda , which distracts him just for a moment, but he still manages to notice the flesh and blood version of his dream girl walk by. The fact that the Tokkko are a little bit unusual is revealed when checking out a crime scene, some loiterers attack the police, ignore bullet wounds and are basically unstoppable until the Tokko show up using bladed weapons to kill the attackers. One of them, the girl from his dreams, Sakura warn him that they are watching him because he is a survivor of the incident that killed his parents. And the spread of the zombie like creatures continues to spread.

Okay, this getting long here, but as you can you see from my earlier complaints, there is not much attention paid to internal logic here. Art-wise, it seems to me that the characters in this manga have more than a passing resemblance to other characters from previous Tohru Fujisawa titles, but despite those similarities, the art is effective and expressive. It does read very quickly, more quickly than I expected even an action heavy title with its big panels would read, but that is more a taste thing than anything else. The title is wrapped in plastic, because of the violence and naked dream girls, but as manga go there was nothing here that felt too shocking. It is an okay action title with a few, well, it feels like art and storytelling shortcuts taken that rob of the story of standing on its own two feet and really hitting home.

Tokkô: Devil's Awaken, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga


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