Detective Akira Yusa sees his brother Shinichi killed before his very eyes. He spots a young girl, Kilico Sakaki, at the scene of the crime and instinctively knows that she did it. After a bloody fight, Akira arrests her. Trained as a professional assassin by her stepfather, Toshio Sakaki, in everyday life, Kilico acts like an ordinary college student. Her arrest is treated as a mistake when she manages to hide all evidence of Shinichi's murder. Akira's subsequent investigation of Kilico runs into difficulty when he finds that it's too big for a police detective to handle. Her encounter with Akira makes Kilico remember her terrible past and have doubts about being an assassin. Kilico goes to Taiwan to train as a jewel connoisseur, the Sakaki family's legitimate business, behind which they hide all their illegitimate business. Fired for taking his investigation too far, Akira follows Kilico to Taiwan. The two meet again and become very close, as they get involved in the internal conflicts within the Tenrenban gang, Taiwan's biggest Mafia group.
If you get the feeling while reading this that you’re watching a movie play out before you, don’t be too surprised. It would appear as if Koichi was originally planning to work in the film industry and has obviously carried what he’s learnt about cinematography over into this tale. This is clearly apparent in the set-up of the opening chapter, where we’re rapidly introduced to the protagonists, given an indication of their characters, then with the skillful use of cut scenes, we’re shown their convergence to the fateful encounter. Although his drawing style takes a bit of getting used to, it achieves what the mangaka
sets out to do – in a surprisingly subtle way at times too. A good example of this, is when Akira spots his brother’s killer through the crowd. Maybe not as far fetched as it sounds at first glance – after all, in a group of shocked onlookers, wouldn’t an unsurprised or shocked face stand out like a sore thumb?
However, this particular arc plays only a small part of the overall story, as what could have been a simple tale of vengeance is fleshed out with a complex plot, multi-layered characters, style and substance to become one of the better and more engrossing action stories I’ve come across in a while. It’s one of those stories where no individual is truly good or evil and it’s watching the central characters deal with their inner demons that makes this well worth reading. As much as the hunter and hunted are both cold and ruthless in the execution of their objectives, it’s when the author delves into their motivations, especially where Kilico’s past is concerned, that you realise what a skilfully crafted story this is.
At the end of the day, it’s not about who’s going to win against who, but who has the strength to break free from the cycle of violence – even at the risk of self-sacrifice. This, combined with the feeling you are watching proceedings through a camera lens, makes for gripping read, worthy of it’s place within the action genre. As I mentioned, his artistic style takes a bit of getting used to and it’s probably not for the squeamish either, but if you can get past that, give “Kilico” a whirl.