Manga: Ichi The Killer

Here’s another reccommendation I got from Rikka that can be finished pretty quick. If this is the kind of manga for you.

Manga: Ichi the Killer 「殺し屋1」 Koroshiya Ichi

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      Ichi The Killer vol 1 and 10 covers

Ichi The Killer is a Seinen, adult, action, psychological, tragedy, drama written and illustrated by Yamamoto Hideo. It was serialised from 1998 to 2001 and is currently complete at 103 chapters compiled into 10 tankoubon volumes. The manga was adapted into a live-action film, directed by Miike Takashi, in 2001, followed by the prequel film 1-Ichi, directed by Masahito Tanno, in 2003. The live-action films are notorious and is banned in several countries due to its high impact violence and graphic depictions of cruelty.  An anime OVA titled Ichi the Killer: Episode 0(殺し屋1 The Animation Episode 0)was released in 2002.

Ichi is a coward and a wimp, but once he breaks into tears, he turns into a human weapon with his martial arts skills and a blade hidden in his shoes. Kakihara is a yakuza boss and an extreme masochist who only feels he’s alive when he pierces, cuts and burns his own and other people’s bodies. Set in Shijuku, Kabuki-Cho, the biggest sin town in Japan, the story revolves around Ichi and his colleaguess’ confrontation with the yakuza (mainly Kakihara).

WARNING: VERY. VERY. GRAPHIC. CONTENT. Extreme violence and gore. Psychologically damaged characters.

I’d consider myself pretty desensitised to a lot of potentially scarring stories, but Ichi The Killer is no doubt one of the most psychologically jarring mangas I’ve read. You can decide for yourself whether it’s something you’d be interesting in, but I’d just like to warn you before hand.

It might actually leave you psychologically damaged too. HAHAHAAHA. Nah.

I shouldn’t joke about something like that.

Ichi the killer is seriously some messed up shit.

To be honest, Even though this isn’t the kind of manga I’d actively seek out to read, the plot was really really good. It took me awhile to get into the story though. I started out really intrigued by Ichi, which left me impatient because I just wanted to read more about him compared to everyone else HAHA. Still had a bias toward Ichi throughout the whole series, but there’s just no way to enjoy the story without going through everyone else’s experiences too. It’s the kind of plot that’s almost totally reliant on its characters. Doing that just reduces the ‘interesting’ facter by more than half.

The violence just gets worse as it goes on… I admit to cringing and reacting many times in the later chapters.

I’m not the kind of person who thinks too deeply on certain topics surrounding stories (like controversies or why people would like the violence or not), but thinking about the actual story itself  (characters and their psychological backgrounds or how it plays out) adds a certain amount of enjoyment to the experience. Does that make sense? I hope it does… It was really fun considering POVs from characters in Ichi the Killer because it was just so different. It’s crazy. But great.

When Rikka first told me to try it, she said that it was “really disgusting”. She also mentioned that people would find her gross because she read Ichi the Killer. But because I had already read another pretty ‘intense’ manga (Wolf Guy: Ookami no Monshou that I mentioned in the middle of a previous post), it might be something I’d read too. I totally understand what she means now. You’re not disgusting, Rikka. Hahahahaha. Cos that would mean I’m disgusting for thinking it’s good too /coughs. Plus a lot of other people in the world.

Panel from vol 6, chp 61

Panel from vol 6, chp 61

If you’re the kind of reader who holds high expectations on how polished and pretty the characters look, Yamamoto-sensei’s art isn’t something for you. Characters aren’t superbly realistic, but there’s a distinctive style to them that borders on caricature and realism. I’m really not sure how to describe it ugh OTL

Ichi the Killer is so darn detailed though; From the backgrounds to each and every gory scene. Don’t let the simple covers fool you. The angles at which every panel is drawn makes for an extremely smooth and dynamic storytelling. Plus 90% of it happens ‘at night’ or indoors and there’s a very high contrast in toning. You have to admire that art for perfectly portraying the ‘sinister’ feeling.

Definitely not doing a good job on explaining this series… Even re-reading this post everything’s still so ambiguous OTL Maybe if you read (and enjoy it), you might understand a little more of what I’m trying to say and put words where I can’t, HAHA.

If you’re not open and comfortable with all the warnings, please don’t. I’m not saying you can’t take it. I’m just worried and would like you prepared. It’s such an eye-opener. I should probably read Yamamoto-sensei’s other well-known work, Homunculus, soon.

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