Every year, Lord Nicola A. Bradherley, one of Europe's leading aristocrats, sends his coach round to various orphanages to adopt little girls and trains them to join his opera troupe. But most of these girls never make it onto the stage—a far more sinister fate awaits them, sacrificed in the name of the greater good.
Some readers might recognise Hiroaki Samura's name from the "swords and sandals" epic, "Blade of the Immortal", possibly the romantic comedy "Ohikkoshi". If you do, and you're keen to try "Bradherley's Coach", first forget everything you might have read from this managka before. This is, simply put, very dark, chilling and very disturbing (yes, my read-at-random method has dished up another offering from the Dark Side). In a way, I'd describe it as "horror done right."
I'm going to start off with a warning - this manga will shock you. Nothing can prepare you for the premise underlying this tale. Yet he doesn't do
it purely for the shock value. As with so many good story-tellers, it is merely the axle around which the story revolves... and it is an immensely compelling story that unfolds as you turn the pages.
Again, as with all good story-tellers, it's the characters that make this story fizz. Despite some scenes of graphic violence (I thought I was pretty thick-skinned, but this made me cringe more than once) - which, to his credit, he doesn't dwell on; they happen, the story moves on - it is the characters that draw us into the tale, thanks to some skilful writing and wonderful characterisation.
Although the story initially focusses on the girls themselves, showing us their hopes, dreams and aspirations, as well as adding in the subtle dynamics within the orphanage itself (what would you do to make sure you were the next girl to be "adopted" into a life of bliss?), we are eventually introduced to characters from both sides of the... er... fence. Even here, everybody is portrayed as being human, with feelings and emotions and reactions to what is happening. One chapter in particular hammers home the wrongness of what is happening, in a karmic what-goes-around-comes-around way.
In essence, this is where the power (and dare I say brilliance) of this manga lies - the sheer raw emotion it evokes within you. The fact that we know who those girls are, what they think and what they dream about and long for is, makes the fact that you know the terrible fate awaiting them all the more devastating.
The violence aside, this is not an easy manga to read - purely because of the emotional strain it puts you under. And because of that - the fact that in a few short chapters of the story, the mangaka has already awoken such strong emotions inside me, that I have to say this is easily one of the best manga I have read in a long time. Certainly, not since Battle Royale have I read one that's hit me so emotionally between the eyes.
However, once again I have to say that it's not an easy read and certainly not for the squeamish. By the end of Chapter 1 you'll either be hooked, or repulsed - I don't think there is a middle ground with this. I, however, eagerly awaited the final chapters... not too sure what that says about me...
I don't get it. Bradherley no Basha is basically 8 chapters of abject filth, and it offers its audience no consolation. It's about pre-teen orphan girls getting gang-raped by violent prisoners. The common interpretation of Bradherley no Basha is that it's either a condemnation of the depicted acts or is a mere depiction and should not be taken as anything more. This strikes me as false, seeing as the mangaka contrived the premise of the story illogically, just to force the circumstances where these girls are subjected to the abuse of the prisoners. What I mean is that the reasoning behind giving the girls to
them seems unrealistic and forced. This is not a story driven by human struggle, but by the mangaka himself. So what's the point? What am I supposed to get from this? How am I supposed to react?
Some seem to find this manga shocking, but I wasn't shocked by it so much as bored. It's all very unremarkable and, despite its explicit subject, rather mundane. There's no social commentary or realism here and there isn't enough going on in the way of plot or character to keep the reader entertained. There is no tension and no sense of urgency. Bradherley no Basha really wants to shock its audience, but it doesn't seem to be willing to put in the work required. Maybe if the characters underwent proper development before they were brutally killed it would be different, but they didn't and it isn't.
If I had to describe Bradherley no Basha in a word, it would be 'superficial.' Everything about it sits lazily on the surface. The art is easily the strongest point. The characters aren't very distinctive, but they don't matter here anyways, and I like the sketchy style. It's nice. Unfortunately, there isn't much appeal to what is actually drawn. There isn't much appeal to be found anywhere in this manga. It just has nothing going for it. It's bland.
With the limited amount of 10/10s in existence, I am forever on the lookout for anything of the more serious and twisted variety, for if there is anything that can get a reaction out if me, it is not blushing wuv shoujo, or the usual braindead school anime.
Bradherley's Coach certainly fits the bill: set in Europe in the early 1900's (the setting matching best with England), is is about girls from orphanages getting picked based on their appearance to join the opera troupe of one of the most powerful nobles (the fourth, to be precise!) in existence - Bradherley. The
girls view this like we would see winning the lottery in modern times; jumping from rags to riches.
What the girls do not know about is a plan Bradherley put forward to parliament after something serious occurred at a prison. (There was a riot, the result being a lot of death and injuries.) Seeing his chance in the aftermath, Bradherley suggested taming the wild urges of the inmates serving life at prisons by offering a 'lamb' to counter their violent and lustful needs after a certain amount of months, preventing any further riots by allowing the inmates to give into their urges by offering them one innocent victim who would be sacrificed for the greater good.
The 'lamb' would be tricked into thinking she's being taken to Bradherley's estate in a coach, get taken to a prison instead, then get lead into a room full of 30-60+ inmates and, finally, the prison guards would then watch on as the inmates beat and rape the girl over and over. This would be allowed to continue for as many days as it took for the girls to die.
For handling the payments given to the orphanages for the 'lambs', supplying the girls and basically taking all the risks, Bradherley gained more power within the government and maybe even was allowed to evade paying taxes. There were a lot of benefits balanced against the risks. But, really, what risks were there in allowing inmates who wouldn't ever leave prison to have their way with girls with no family; girls who wouldn't be remembered?
Following the short introduction of a girl leaving her orphanage, blissfully unaware of her fate, the manga started off by showing a fairly graphic rape sequence. It didn't disturb me - I've seen one too many doujins on the internet to be easily disturbed, as well as a fair few other things - but I have read that some of the early parts of the story made some people stop. But, after the opening two chapters, the chapters that followed didn't show that kind of thing quite so graphically, instead mainly focusing on short stories involving different girls outside of the prisons...or, in other words, the events leading up to them becoming 'lambs'. The mangaka showed what happened to the girls in detail at the start in order to get the readers to fully understand what the girls had to endure and then stopped so as to not make the series pornographic. There was even a chapter telling the story from the perspective of a few prisoners; a chapter that was good because it helped me understand how the prisoners handled the situation they found themselves in.
What I loved when reading this series was the art. It was drawn with the intention of being realistic in an attempt to make the events more believable and disturbing, and it worked a treat. I couldn't spot any flaws in the art, either. The mangaka is meant to be pretty famous and, if this effort is anything to go by, I can see why.
To sum it up, Bradherley's Coach is an excellent series to read... if you can handle something realistic to the point of being disturbing. Rape is only shown in graphic detail at the beginning and it does veer away from being pornographic, though. It's short enough to read in one go, it only lasting for eight chapters, and the fact that each chapter tells the story of a different girl (or two) keeps it fresh. I highly recommend it to lovers of short 'n grim stories.
If you are looking for a story that is going to leave you with a bad taste than Bradherley's Coach is for you. It's one of the most appalling, pathetic stories I have ever read. I feel disgusted, just can't get it off my head.
The story revolves around little girls getting brutally raped and tortured to death in the most goriest fashion imaginable. With each chapter the story moves on to the next girl. Some chapters focus on the background stories of the girls; but there is no real character development.
The only silver lining of this manga is its art. The art style
is quite realistic even though most girls kind of look the same. The art is comparable with 'Blade of the Immortal'. The colored cover pages of the manga is gorgeous, I must say that is what drew me to this manga in the first place.
This is not what I was expecting from the author of 'Blade of the Immortal', a serous let down. Pathetic is the word perfectly describes this manga. The author proclaimed in the manga that it was his attempt to draw an erotic story, If you find it as such than there is something wrong with you.