Brain block go away, come again some other day. (Hopefully after November is over.) ~
This is an extremely hard series to write about… It is also probably the most mind-f*ing one that’s stuck in my head.
Manga: Akumetsu 「アクメツ」
Akumetsu vol 1 and 11 covers
Akumetsu is a mature, Shounen, action, psychological, drama, tragedy (and more) series written by Tabata Yoshiaki and illustrated by Yugo Yuki. It was serialised from 2002 to 2006 and is complete with 162 chapters in 18 tankobon volumes.
The story is set in a near-future Japan, post twentieth century where the country is in an enormous debt, triggering an economic recession. Corruption is abundant with politicians and businessmen lavishing and pampering themselves amidst growing public unrest. Akumetsu is the story of Shou, who defends his own view of justice in a vigilante manner while wearing a mask and calling himself ‘Akumetsu’, literally translated to ‘Destroyer of evil’.
Copied wiki’s blurb. It was excellent and spot-on, but unfortunately does not sound as enticing as it could be. If I mention anything more, I’d be spoiling the excitement.
WARNING: Heavy themes. Prostitution at the beginning. Fanservice and some nudity. Profanity. Corruption. The whole manga deals with political corruption. Violence. Brutal and grisly deaths. More deaths. Deaths happens over, and over, and over again.
Really surprised this manga is still considered a ‘Shounen’. I’ve always thought it was a ‘Seinen’. Whoops.
I read Akumetsu one and a half years ago after finishing Wolf Guy: Ookami no Monshou (I’ll write about this some day). Wolf guy’s art and story style was so cool, I was hoping to find other mangas that Tabata-sensei and Yugo-sensei had worked on together. Two friends recommended Akumetsu to me… and I can say without questioning that I like it even more than Wolf Guy.
Saying Akumetsu starts out ‘fast’ is a gross understatement. It starts out crazy, mind-blowingly, slap-to-the-face fast. It doesn’t give you the luxury of getting used to a new series, you just kind of ram head-first into ice-cold water and suddenly you’re wide awake and going “Wh-WHAT THE…?!”
If you’re one who appreciates antiheroes, sarcastic/serious humor and irony, check that for Akumetsu. Even better if feelings and morals are brought into question throughout the story? Another check. How bout some tragedy in the mix? Got that too. Just look at the total number of genres this manga covers in the tags below. That gives you a pretty good idea on how intricate and unpredictable a story Akumetsu is.
The first few arcs of the manga seem pretty episodic, but after getting through a few of them, they get longer and more complicated, and everything begins to piece together bit by bit. It honestly seems like the plot gets dragged out and plateaus in the middle for awhile though. Plus you have to persevere through A LOT OF TEXT and frequent, ever-increasing load of political and moral monologuing or backstory especially at the beginning of a new arc. But, if you take the extra effort to try and understand even a little bit of what the heck the manga is talking about, it really makes a difference in understanding and enjoying Akumetsu as a whole. Actually took me awhile to get into
the obsession of reading it continuously, but after a certain point, it got way too exciting and I couldn’t stop.
I think the art is really cool. I mean, JUST LOOK AT THAT MASK. It’s very cool.
Like the story, the art skyrockets and it only gets better and better. Much of the excitement comes from the dramatic dialogue and posing of characters throughout the (often full-page) dramatic panels, which can probably be considered to have ‘inaccurate anatomy’ most of the time. Screentone style is extremely contrasting and eye-catching. I think it’s also pretty interesting to see the transition of style between ‘joke’ moments and ‘serious’ moments, and how the ‘joke’ style is very often used for the expressions of characters in undeniably grave scenes. I guess by playing it off a little more as a joke, it’s not so psychologically scarring, but I really don’t think that made much of a difference. Probably about 70% of the manga is an irony.
Akumetsu is a really thought-provoking piece of work. It is also, at the same time, absolutely ridiculous and should not be taken seriously for a number of reasons. It gets too immensely, complicated when you try to think of every little political and moral aspect throughout the series. I’m not saying that you have to ponder very deeply about everything that is mentioned, but it would be awesome if it makes you actually think about the questions that are brought up. Because everyone who reads this with an open mind, will be morally screwed and have their mind blown, upside-down, inside-out.
I have mixed feelings on the way the manga ended, but at least most, if not all the loose ends were tied up.
Always have so much trouble phrasing my sentences and expressing my feelings for such thought-provoking stories. Arghkdsldhkblughhh.
I still can’t believe Akumetsu is considered a ‘Shounen’ manga.