Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Blank Slate, vol. 1

Story and Art by Aya Kanno
Released in the US by Viz Shojo Beat

Slugline: This is supposed to be a shojo title?

Zen is a serial criminal, committing wanton murder and mayhem just because there is nothing else better for him to do. He wanders through people's lives, upsetting the rich and powerful to the point that even though he is in an occupied country, he is considered more of an threat than the native rebellion. He is destructive for reasons that he himself cannot fathom, for being without memory he acts without repercussions. The first companion he acquires is a bounty hunter intent on understanding Zen but dies in the process. The foreign doctors lasts longer, still with him at the end of the volume, probably because he may solve the mystery of Zen's own existence and abilities.

This is not an approachable title by any means, not because of gore or violence but by the meaningless of Zen's actions. After reading it I still have no idea why this is considered a shojo title, except perhaps that is by Aya Kanno who is better known for titles that fall more squarely in the shojo genre. That or it will be revealed that several of the characters are really girls (don't even chuckle, far stranger things have happened.) For a main character, Zen has no real character to hang the story on, which leaves most of the work of the story having to be done by the supporting cast. Considering the chaos that Zen causes and attracts, you can understand that there is a bit of a turnover in those characters. While there is an attempt to hand a mystery in the character in the last chapter of the volume, it is easy to believe that this was originally intended as a one-off that was later extended into a series, so it took a while for the creator to figure out what to do with the character over the long term. I suspect the 2nd volume will tell us more about where the series is going then the first volume did.

Blank Slate, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Ferdinand

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