Set in nineteenth-century America, Red is the last living survivor of a Native American tribe that was slaughtered by white men. On a long journey in search of revenge, he travels with Iero Ito, a samurai who ran away to America after being defeated in the Seinan civil war, and Ann, a mysterious prostitute. The bonds of friendship between the three are touching. Although it is all fiction, the story seems very real as it is based on actual battles between US troops, Apaches and other tribes.
Red, a surprisingly good manga that no one I asked know. Even if you go to manga translation sites, you will not see this manga. What I am going to write will hopefully dig up this manga from the dirt and give it what it at least deserve, a praise.
STORY: 9/10 - the story is about Red and his journey of revenge. However, the manga is not always about Red. You will see stories about the other Indians, how they live in the white men's land. You will see the struggle of the American to live in the wild west. The story is wild and colorful with a lot of western movie elements that are both dark and comedic. However, a twist in the later half of the manga waved a new path which changed Red's top priority to not being able to revenge but able to survive, not because he suddenly cares about his life but because he has thing that he has to protect and the shift is so skillfully prepared that it feels natural. The story is not only about the past, the present but also the future.
CHARACTER: 10/10 - Our main character is obviously, Red, a native Indian, the last of his kind. Red is a not naive school boy but not a cold blood murderer either. While in his eyes, revenge is the most important priority, he also treasures life, friendship and struggles to not fall into the killing circle.
Red is not alone, he has a ton of friends and enemies. The cast are colorful and are portrayed as realistic as they could, from a cowboy with dark past, a Japanese with dark past, a black slave with dark past and a prostitute with dark past. Yes, the main cast are kinda dark but the author also managed to slip in some comedic characters that actually have a role in the story. The characters are not there to carter certain kinds of fan but to drive the story. The main point of having dark past is to let the readers have sympathy with them and dear, the author did a good job in it. Most of the characters do not cry, sad, angst about their past but they atone, live on and try not to fall again. You will love them or hate them because of their choices, not because they are main characters. That is the pros that a manga with a cast full of mature characters can archive, like Kenshin and Fate/Zero.
The main antagonist of the manga is a dangerous man, a truly dangerous man with a brilliant mind, not the kind of "I am so dangerous! Fear me, muwahahaha!" you usually see in shounen manga. He is on the level of Senator Palpatine and is total a jerk with no redeem feature. Other antagonists are also colorful. And due to the time skip from when Red was a baby and when he started his journey, some of his targets had already retired to live their daily life and this is the first time I actually read a manga with a case of "heel-face door slam" so hard that it left a bad taste for me, not to mention it's Red himself who slammed the god damn door.
ART: 10/10 - Oh boy, the realistic artwork suits the manga well. The female characters are sexy, cute and mature. The art is gritty but it's not negligent, all of the details are clear and welll drawn. The night is actually dark with black tone, I like this style.
ACTION ELEMENTS: 10/10 - Oh boy. How many times you read a shounen manga with a lot of over the top action scenes but still manages to not cross the unrealistic borderline? How many times? All of the casts are gunmen, gun rules, not katana (except one guy but he's villain). You will see a ton of gun fights, knife fights and even boxing fights. Red, thankfully, drops his giant axe early in the manga to learn how to use a gun and he's a bad shooter. And no, he took a lot of chapters only to be able to hit something that is close to him. He's still an average gunmen even after half of the manga, realistic as much as it can. The gritty art also added alot to the action scenes with head chopped off, brains blew away and more. This manga does not afraid to show you some blood.
HISTORY ELEMENTS: 10/10 - Oh boy! I am a historyl buff. And this manga satisfied my love for history despite being mainly a shounen manga with a ton of actions. The characters manage to involve with many historical events and figures without being out of place! From Saigo's rebel in 1877 to the capture of Geronimo in 1886. This is one of the few manga that portrays samurai as adept in using rifle. You will see character got sharped by history events, how their trivial life changed under the power of time, not the other way around. You have anti-christian japanese, slave trading, prostitution, cruel actions from both the white men and the Indian and many more. The clash of ideal between the native Indian who helped capture Geronimo and Geronimo himself, the clash of ideal of a true samurai and the change in Meiji era from both sides, everyone has their faults and the ideal clashes are as realistic as they can with no bias from the author. It's not about being God of the new world but to choose between going right or left.
FINAL RATING: 10/10. This is the second best story about the western world that I have ever read in my life (the best is Lucky Luke). The top noted art, skillfully portrayed story and characters and the healthy amount of both action and historical elements, this manga is certainly one of a kind and of the best I have read. As long as you are a fan of western America movie or just simply love manga, you will love this manga as much as I do.