The story goes like this: Zen is a ruthless and fierce man who cares for no rules and no law in a world which values structure and discipline. He just goes around, trying to alleviate his boredom by killing, robbing and destroying. His attempt to amuse himself by spreading mayhem leads him on a path to the discovery of his lost past.
The best part of the story lies in the questions it poses. Is Zen more or less evil than those who have a purpose behind their wrongdoings? Is being a murderer with a ‘good cause’ any different from just being a plain murderer? Others kill for their country, for their loved ones... Zen simply follows the urges he has. It’s what he is. The real plot starts when Zen felt that these urges might not be as natural as he believed. He suspects that someone is controlling him, and for the first time he shows an interest in his own past.
Precisely this part is what makes Zen a great character. He is a bad guy. He does not mind being a bad guy. It’s what he is, it’s inside him, and he can live with it. But only if his actions stem from his free will. The question of free will spreads throughout the story, so much that you end up asking yourself if there is such a thing.
My overall grade is 7, so I should probably explain why. The ending, although somewhat unexpected, was rushed, unlike the rest of the story which develops perfectly and naturally. There are some points in the end which seemed superfluous and pointless. Instead of trying to retain this philosophical question mark that lingers over the story, the closure tries to explain everything in a matter-of-fact way. An opened ending would have been much better. In my opinion an ambitious story like this one should have remained more courageous and leave us wondering.
Akusaga has an original approach to the story up until the end when it shows an unyielding desire to give closure, at all cost. All things being said, this manga has more strong than weak points. I really enjoyed trying to answer the questions it poses, and I really liked Zen, who is original, interesting and very amusing.