Thursday, April 25, 2013

Rosy's scrawled manga recommendation: Ichi The Killer by Yamamoto Hideo

Ichi The Killer
Yamamoto Hideo

In Shinjuku Kabuki-Cho, the biggest sin town in Japan, there are two crazy guys. Ichi is a coward and a wimp, but once he breaks into tears, he turns into a human weapon. With great martial arts skill and a blade hidden in his boots, he butchers a bunch of enemies into mincemeat in the blink of an eye. His arch enemy is Kakihara, a yakuza boss who's tired of everything, including himself. Only when he pierces, cuts, and burns his own and other people's bodies does he feel that he is alive. Warning: Very graphic content.

Alternative names

Koroshiya Ichi
Koroshiya 1



Manga reader sites (free)

Manga Here, Manga Fox

Rosy's scrawlings on Ichi The Killer

This manga was one I approached with a touch of caution as I haven't seen the film but have heard a great many things about the high violence. On top of that the slit mouth of Kakihara had me wondering just how much I could sit through, even being a horror movie lover. So, while I have had it on my mind with regards to watching I hadn't gotten around to it by the time I discovered I could read the manga online. Seeing that I could though, I thought I'd give it a whirl in manga format as I could take it at my own pace rather than the director's. It might have been the right move for me but make your own as you wish. Either way, Ichi The Killer is a really engaging and enjoyable read for those who have the right frame of mind and appreciation. If you're at all squeamish about the perverted or gory then now's the time to turn away. If you aren't then you're in for a wild ride and a good laugh.
For those brave enough to continue on and read all the way through, here's the review bit of the recommendation:
Anywhere you look within Ichi The Killer there's some perversion or another or some madness or another. There isn't a protagonist to support but you do find yourself variously siding with one character over another. There's just one good-ish man and one good boy amongst them all, but neither stay that way. Despite all this, the manga pulls you in, so much so that by the time you've finished reading it I can almost guarantee you'll be having trouble finding a manga or book to top this one. Maybe because it leads you down a twisted path right to the end where few other accessible stories reach or maybe because it is just that intense a read. Whatever the reason, when you reach the end you're likely to stare about wondering what on Earth could follow it. Take a breather from stories. That's the only way not to be disappointed in the next one.
The plot of Ichi The Killer starts out as rather unnerving, largely because you begin trying to judge it against other stories and find little to no comparisons. Then it just becomes a world of its own, one you begin to navigate freely as is. No comparisons necessary. Blood and gore are aplenty but so are the sexual perversions. Ichi himself is a sadist while his 'enemy' Kakihara is a masochist. Both rather too purely so for their own good. The central story revolves around the mental (and I do mean nutso as neither is acting as or intending what you'd expect) confrontation between the two. No one sees eye to eye and everyone seems to be manipulating each other or falling victim. The story is, in essence, an exploration of all things dark and seedy without any relief to view the brighter side of reality or just a more balanced version.
The art of Ichi The Killer is dark for the most part, not only because a lot of the action takes place during the night but because there's a focus on shadows and black blood. The action is swift and the deaths and sex brutally depicted. The faces are wide ranging and focus on individuality, especially in Kakihara's case as his face is scarred, pierced and cut to the point where he is unmistakably himself. Kakihara's personality shows in every facet of his body while Ichi's doesn't at all. The illustrations also help keep the pace of the story both fast and steady all while being brutally explicit. And to be perfectly honest, having looked at some of the screenshots of the movie, I think I really do love the warped dark art more than the full colour gore. The darkness really does blend with both Kakihara's and Ichi's characters perfectly. Then again, I should probably watch the movie before I judge this completely. More  crazed Ichi The Killer for me.

I'd recommend this manga to: adults only and only those adults who possess a morbid sense of humour. Otherwise, those who like psychological horror, perverted and strange characters, extreme violence and black comedy in their 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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