This is the story of a terrible crime committed against a 17-old-girl, committed, in part, by 17-year-old boys. Why did such a thing happen? Why was no one able to prevent it?
In the beginning, high school boys Hiroki and his friend Takashi are rescued from bullying by a notorious gangster, Miyamoto. At first, they are thrilled to be under his protection, and cheerfully run off anyone who threatens them with the mere mention of Miyamoto's name. Soon, they learn that there is a lot more to being in Miyamoto's gang than just being protected. In return, they're expected to offer loyalty and obedience, or face possibly deadly consequences. This becomes harder as the violence and the crimes they find themselves committing begins to escalate.
One night, they kidnap a high school girl, Sachiko. Now Hiroki has two battles to face. Internally, he faces the dissonance between his sense of self-preservation and his conscience. Externally, Sachiko's twin sister Miki, who goes to Hiroki's high school, her parents and the police are searching for the missing girl. Will Sachiko ever return home? What kind of person--or monster--will Hiroki become?
This is a manga adaption of a novel interpretation of the real life events of Junko Furuta.
It's hard to say this is enjoyable due to the subject matter, but a good way to describe this is a manga episode of 'Criminal Minds.' The benefit that 17-sai has over virtually every episode of Criminal Minds is that 17-sai wasn't created to capitalize on people's morbid interest in all things evil, but to memorialize an event that should have never taken place. (if 17-sai WAS originally conceived for the sole purpose of making a profit, than damn the original writer, Seiji Fujii)
Morals aside, the actual story follows
Hiroki who was roped into Miyamoto's gang. He second guesses very quickly all the actions Miyamoto does and soon enough is tied to the terrible events that take place after Miyamoto abducts a young girl. From them on out we see the terrible atrocities they commit, as well as the girls family work with the police to find out where she's been taken from.
There's nothing particularly revolutionary about this story. There isn't a speck of philosophy used (despite the narrative having enough weight to include it) and the events that unfold aren't astronomical, but the helplessness of the events that take place are very, very real.
Decent. Nothing special. It's not bad, but it's not super good either. I never felt as though proportions were off, and I also never felt as though the art was trying to shock me (most notably during the abuse). It was tame, which is nice considering the subject matter. Like I mentioned above, this is a memorialization, not glorification. Even still, the art is pretty basic, there aren't overly detailed locals, and most of the events take place inside, so there isn't room for impressive scenery.
That said, the art itself isn't abusive to the reader. It's good to note that the art doesn't glorify the horrific events within these pages. It's careful to expose what's necessary as it takes place. I really appreciated this sense of self-awareness from the artist. It's what kept the Art score from being a 6.
Some of the things Hiroki does and says are really, really stupid. I found myself questioning why he did them. This is something that a story should never have. It's not a "Woah!" moment where it took me by surprise and I was happy, more of a "What!?" and I was like, "His character showed no signs of this at ALL!" This happened twice.
None of the other characters are all that compelling or have these personal arcs that take place, but the ferocity of the delinquents was terrifying. Considering the topic of this manga, it was surprising that I was continually sickened despite the desensitization that takes place while reading (or perhaps you're already quite desensitized. This will test those limits.)
A strange category for this manga, but I can't deny it being a fairly well crafted narrative. Like I've mentioned in other reviews, I can't turn off my critical lense, and it's my critical lense which dictates how enjoyable a work can be. With very little issues (but also, virtually 0 spectacles) I found this to be a devilishly pleasant 7. Not everyone will enjoy this, or handle this, but because the artist took care not to over expose what took place, it was clear that a lot of love was put into not only the narrative but the imagery as well.
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As of now, there's only one review for this manga. When I first found this, that review almost dissuaded me from reading; honestly, I was scared of what I was about to read. It took me a couple of months before I could actually sit down and read the whole thing, so I will leave you my general impression in order to help people with doubts like me decide whether to read it or not.
To keep it spoiler free, I'll just say that the manga is a lot more "vanilla" compared to the actual crime which you can read about on wikipedia, so unless you're
very sensitive there's really not a high chance of you puking over this. Having said this, the thing is that it actually sickened me, because it remembered me that in this worlsy there are people far more cruel and disgusting than those depicted on this story.
Story: 7 -> Well written, sometimes one would question the choices made by the characters, but human beings behave different under pressure.
Art: 6 -> Not gore of that's what you wanna know, about the same amount of blood you would see on a "delinquent high schooler brawl", aside from that is pretty much average.
Characters: 8 -> Not much to say, kind of generic but I like to see it as a way to say that these things happen on your everyday neighborhood, no need for a supervillain or damaged antagonist, just normal people.
Enjoyment: 7 -> As I said before, this experience was not saddening than it was exciting, so 7 is just a whim. It deserves it.
Overall: 7 -> Good read, not great though. I can't really put into words who should or shouldn't read this manga, but it is definitely worth a shot.
17-Sai. is a manga which is based off the real life gang-rape murder of Junko Furuta from the 1980's in Japan. It is about a girl who gets kidnapped walking home from school and is held against her will as a sex slave by a group of delinquents. Of course this is a very dramatic mature subject that many readers will not be able to take. There are very graphic scenes that show the girl being raped; I'm saying all this as a warning.
Even though the content of this manga is a horribly disgusting event, the manga itself feels like a tribute to the
real life girl. We see many different points of views around the crime and how the events took place. I believe the story is amazing even though it makes me sick. It is very dramatic and compelling which will keep you reading. The art style makes the manga seem more realistic. This allows for stronger emotions from the reader. Even though the characters are horrible beings, there is still a lot of character development and the understanding of the characters comes natural. I very much enjoyed reading this manga. It helped open my eyes to this kind of subject which made me realize how lucky I am. I feel that even though this is a very tragic and depressing manga, it can still shine bright as a tribute to Junko Furuta.