Two slave free themselves from a slave ship, one a Japanese man, the other an African American. After escaping they find themselves on shore in Edo-era Japan, a society with a strong caste system, isolated from the world. How will the Japanese people perceive this giant black man, how will they survive? But first things first, how will they get these shackles off their feet?
(Source: Dark Horse)
Included one-shot: Naki no Ishimatsu (Crybaby Ishimatsu)
Colored or Color of rage is another great historical manga written by Kazuo Koike, the man behind "Lone wolf and cub".
The story, set in Edo period Japan show the adventures of two escaped slaves by name of George and King, African and Japanese, and their encounters with injustice and brutality of the era. Being former slaves themselves, they rush to help to those in need, sometimes they succeed in their efforts, but sometimes they fail because in reality, you can't save everyone alone.
The story shows how peasants and generally weak people were treated by the more powerful, strong people. The treatment of the humans is
very harsh and this is the main theme of the manga-humans are free and given free will. Why should you bow to some one and (literally) eat mud just because he is richer than you? given that the main characters were slaves, this theme plays hard early on, about struggles of men to become free, to fight injustice of rich and successful people who use them, and to eradicate evil.
The story is also very immersive, fans of lone wolf and cub know it already but the author has a way to suck the reader in the era by using simple stuff like way of speaking and particular manners of the time.
As for the characters, we have two main ones. The first is George, a Japanese man that became a slave and escaped. He is very knowledgeable about the culture of Japan and how you should behave in situations, he is the more calculated of the two, and he is also a skilled sword fighter. George can appear to be more cold hearted, but this is the only more realistic approach to life-this is the way things are, and you can't always do something about it, especially when it's way bigger than just yourself. But in the end, he is always kind and helpful to his friend.
His friend is the African King. Being a foreign man in strange land he has a lot of troubles understanding the culture and the way things are. This theme could be played a little bit better, but the great effect from it is the way King affected from it. He is showing his personality, kind and hateful towards injustice. Suffering a lot in United states himself and huge discrimination against his kind he passionate about helping the weak and the innocent, and against all form of slavery.
The relationship of the two is very interesting as they are good friends bound by hard circumstances and painful past.
The art is good. Very good even, and fit the manga perfectly. I was surprised discovering that the artist is different from "Lone wolf and cub" as it so similar. Sure, there are same-face people over the manga, but the art itself is good, and the character design of the main characters is excellent.
In conclusion, the more I think about the manga the more I realize how much I enjoyed it and wished for it to be longer. There are several problems about it, like unsatisfying ending as it just... ends. We could see more about the treatment towards blacks beside the first chapter, and if we knew more about the past of the two we could understand and connect them better. The real problem is that it's simply too short, and I wish for more. I recommend you to read this wonderful manga, it won't take a lot of your time, and if you enjoy historical stuff, I think you would enjoy it.