Monday, February 18, 2013

Rosy's scrawled manga recommendation: Green Blood by Masasumi Kakizaki

Green Blood
Masasumi Kakizaki

The end of the civil war signaled the start of the industrial revolution in the United States and immigrants from all over the world traveled to find their American dream. But what awaited the majority of them was poverty, discrimination and hopelessness. Manhattan, New York was full of immigrants flooding through the ports and the 6th district, Five Points, was considered at the time, the world’s worst slum. The mobsters corrupted the entire area, including the police by paying them off; Five Points was the mob’s territory and they were the law. But even in Five Points, where there seemed to be nothing but robbery, prostitution and murder, showed some signs of hope. Luke Burns was a honest and righteous teenager who realized that the mob was the cause of the harsh lifestyle and that joining the mobsters would not bring him the American dream. But his older brother, Brad Burns, had become the assassin to the biggest mob group of Five Points, the Grave Diggers, a secret he kept from Luke for his own protection. Brad was known as the Grim Reaper and his reputation preceded him as a ruthless and skilled killer.

Alternative names


Manga reader sites (free)
Manga Reader, Manga Fox

Rosy's scrawlings on Green Blood
I'm jumping in early to recommend this manga, but with good reason. This is a fun and brutally dark Western loosely based on real American history and Western genre traditions containing some revenge themes and issues. There's some familiar elements and some new, all interwoven neatly to create a story of a man with a secret-ish identity as a hired killer. For $10 a head he'll kill anyone and he receives his orders mostly from the boss of the Grave Digger gang. He does all this on his path to gain revenge in the death of his father for his idealistic and hard working innocent younger brother. Brad's, a.k.a the Grim Reaper's, younger brother Luke just wants to escape the hole that is Five Points where immigrants arrive hoping for freedom and are overworked for pittance, forced into sex work or sold and die in droves, sometimes due to gang wars. Brad will do anything to make this happen, even if it means sacrificing all that remains of his humanity and even his life for he sees himself as doomed to hell and a monster.
The story twists together immigrant history with Western scenery and the more realistic Western gang war story with elements of the lone stranger avenging story. This ensures that while you feel familiar enough with the story that you could almost predict what is about to happen there are quite a few surprise twists and turns to keep you entertained. Add to this that one of the worst characters is like a snivelling wretch that looks a little like the Joker, the protagonist is bloody-thirsty and self-hating, saloon ladies play important roles, there are several bizarrely named gangs and the drawings are quite unique for mangas and you've got pure entertainment.
The art of Green Blood is one of the manga's best features. There's a wide range of faces and body types, more gore than required, a darkness and grittiness to the scenery that tells of the state of the characters' lives and detailed depictions of a just post Lincoln era American port town. The art is intricately detailed and shifts between scratching and smooth detail with ease, sometimes within the same panel. Even the barest of illustrations has a depth rather uncommon for mangas. At the same time there are some manga styles that remain. The eyes have double irises, there's a tendency to reveal on shifts in mood by focusing on changes to the eyes. Otherwise, there's a skillful blend between manga and comic styles that lends a fantasy edge to the standard Western imagery. All in all, the art is beautiful and makes reading Green Blood a pleasure.

I'd recommend this manga to: those who enjoy Western, lone ranger, assassin, historical and gang war action stories.

Notes on manga reader sites
The quality of manga readers can vary. The uploads are often done cheaply or as a serious hobby by a collective. Be aware that sometimes licence hasn't been given but the sites noted above, Manga Fox in particular, are extremely careful about adding and pulling mangas according to license agreements. So you shouldn't have to worry too much about the material being pirated. There are also translated works and non-translated. Amongst the translated works you will find that the quality of translation may vary according to the skills of the translators. Usually the works are perfectly readable anyway, with only a few added or dropped words or a word in the incorrect tense or with/out plurals. But sometimes the text becomes gobbledygook. In which case, either seek another version or give up and buy an official copy once a printed translation comes out. The other issue of note is you may need to expand the screen to read the text easily as sometimes the scans are minimised a little.
I find that if a page doesn't download properly or some other issue occurs (too slow or someone ordered the pages incorrectly etc.) with one reader then skipping across to another reader and picking up where I was is quite easy and rarely annoying.
Otherwise, enjoy and watch out you don't get too addicted you forget about the necessary things in life.

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