Irene Lapona may have a youthful face and gentle physique, but when she applies makeup, she can utterly transform her appearance to look any way she pleases. Gorgeous, yet "so sadistic," Irene moonlights as a professional assassin. As skilled as she is, however, when another assassin targets her for revenge, she faces the toughest fight of her life.
In different settings of time and space, three separate tales occur. In the wild west, a historic poker game is about to unfold between two of its biggest outlaws, who are as unparalleled in skill as they are in deception. Far off in the deep reaches of space, a two-man freighter crew find themselves at the start of a tireless game of survival when a mysterious outsider plants a bomb within their ship. Finally, in a sleepy little town, clever young swindler B.T. finds that he'll have to put all his tricks to the test when the object of his affection comes into harm's way.
In Gorgeous☆Irene, JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken mastermind Hirohiko Araki brings together a collection of tales of gamblers and tricksters with "heroes" who throw righteousness straight out the door.
[Written by MAL Rewrite]
3. Mashounen B.T. (Magic Boy B.T.)
4. Virginia ni Yoroshiku (Say Hello to Virginia)
5. Busou Poker (Armed Poker)
*Note: This is ONLY covering the TWO chapters that are ACTUALLY about Gorgeous Irene. Super Brief Thoughts on the separate 3 chapters: 'Poker Under Arms' + 'Say Hello to Virginia' were intriguing but ultimately forgettable, while 'Cool Shock B.T.' was actually fun. ALL stories in this volume definitely have Araki's brain behind it, and the influences on JoJo can be seen here.*
Gorgeous Irene was......an interesting experience. Not a GREAT one, but it certainly stands out on more than the merit of inducing some slight cringe because of how amateurish this feels.
[Story - 4]
This uber-short series follows the adventures of Irene, a timid cloudcuckoolander who
can become a well-endowed and cunning alter-ego (appropriately titled Gorgeous Irene) by applying certain types of make-up. She works as an assassin, but yet still seeks friendship wherever she goes.
Outside of that little summary right there, there.....is not much. The first story is just her going after a really tough woman b/c intro chapter, whereas the second story suddenly thrusts her in NYC following around proto-Jonathan Joestar. They weren't sluggish to read through (pacing is really solid honestly), but it just didn't catch my eye.
[Art - 5]
The art is definitely evoking a lot of Jojo feelings here compared to Araki's preceding works. The characters are much more statue-esque (leggy, tendency to strike poses, beautiful faces). The backgrounds/settings are pretty well-rendered, with tons of shadows and details used to flesh out every single detail. This, in turn, helps the action read much more smoothly than if it was done in the style of 'Poker Under Arms', for example.
A thing to note - God, that woman from the first chapter + some background dude in the second one definitely influenced how Stroheim would turn out, and no one talks about that. Shocking, really.
[Character - 3]
Surprisingly, this was the part of the manga that was most lacking! While Araki himself has expressed that he's embarrassed about how he wrote women in this piece, it must be said that ALL the characters here were lacking regardless of gender.
Irene is rather flat as a character - I get that these were just pilot chapters, but like......there's nothing that really appeals to me outside of the whole 'make-up' thing. Even the suddenly tragic backstory revealed in the second story (her dad's a killer) didn't change that. She's just an Action Girl in the most basic way possible.
There's really no one else that's memorable because of their unique qualities - the tough woman is tough for shits-and-giggles, proto-Jonathan is basically a Mad Max wannabe, the random butler Irene has is cranky, etc. etc.
[Enjoyment/Overall - 4]
It was still fun to read, nonetheless, since it's always interesting to see an auteur's earliest works. It definitely reeks of an amateur vibe, but there are a couple of nuggets of style that will eventually make Araki famous worldwide. I would only recommend it to fellow Araki fans if they want to see what he was like before he hit it big.