A Manga Graphic Novel by Hiroya Oku
At some point I did a “Humble book bundle” from Kodansha comics (big manga publisher from Japan) and scored a number of E-books of various titles I probably would not have purchased otherwise. This book was one of those since I didn’t realize the creator of Gantz (an anime I really enjoyed years ago) had a new title out there. Oku is amazing with the way he comes up with plotlines that are so out of the ordinary that they are a breathe of fresh air each and every time he publishes something. I almost wonder if he gets high and throws darts at a dartboard: thwwomp….old man…… thwwomp……becomes an android…… thwwomp now a superhero. No matter what his method is, I love it.
Ichiro Inuyashiki is down on his luck. While only 58 years old, his geriatric looks often have him written off as a pathetic old man by the world around him and he’s constantly ignored and disrespected by his family despite all that he’s done to support them. On top of everything else, his doctor has revealed that he has cancer and it appears that he has little time left in this world. Just when it seems things couldn’t get any worse, a blinding light in the night sky strikes the earth where Ichiro stands. He later wakes up to find himself unscathed, but he soon starts to notice that there’s something…different about himself. However, it turns out that these strange, new changes are just what Ichiro needs to take a new lease on life and now it seems like there’s nothing to stop him from being a hero worthy of the respect that he never had before…unless, that is, there was someone else out there with these same “changes”…Publisher’s description
Inuyashiki tells the story of an older man that despite years of hard work seems to have lost the luck lottery. His family is pretty awful – he has a wife and daughter that seem to not respect (perhaps even hate him) him and a son that is distant and depressive due to bullying at school. The world around him is awful – he sees kids that are disrespectful and commit crimes without any risk of punishment, murders in the streets, and inequality all around. Finally, he has very poor health, so much so that everyone assumes that he is twenty years older than he actually is, and has recently learned of terminal cancer coursing through his body. When at his lowest point, Inuyashiki is killed by an unforeseen alien force that replaces him with a cyborg duplicate that may or may not be a deadly killing machine. While it may seem like Inuyashiki has hit rock bottom or that this is the set up for a gritty revenge story will be surprised to see that the old man takes it the other way (so far). This book becomes a story of second chances, the meaning of humanity, finding one’s strengths, and family.
The art, especially the meticulous mechanical designs, is very well done. Each page is gorgeous and you really start rooting for the protagonist as he comes to terms with his new place in life. Noticing other helpless situations that prior, he would have to ignore, he now has the ability to help others, and it makes him feel invincible. This series hits with a big punch right off of the get-go, and I hope the momentum can keep going all of the way through. I don’t see it going on and on like Gantz eventually did, but one can hope the quality stays steady. This book is definitely recommended for seinen manga fans, especially if you are into superhero tales.
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