Mar 20, 2009
Beatnik (All reviews)
Hitoshi Iwaaki takes a late 21st century violence trigger and runs with it. I am of course talking about the immortal line uttered by thugs all over the world: what are you staring at?

Doesn’t matter if you weren’t, they'll shout it at you anyway; spittle flying. Any excuse for a fight. In this story people are throwing the line at each other all day, and our unlucky protagonist happens to have it thrown at him.

Funnily enough, this guy doesn’t like looking people in the eyes anyway, so the irony is lovely. Even more so when after he wakes up from his beating he can’t see peoples’ eyes anymore. A side-effect of this condition befallen the man is that people react better to him because they think he's looking at them properly when they communicate, the irony keeps getting laid thick on the man and he doesn’t like it one bit.

This is a humorous psychological thriller, kind of in the same vein as Hideo Yamamoto's Homunculus. Hitoshi Iwaaki is an excellent manga author, he not only tackles this social problem with humour but he strips the comedy away bit by bit, upping the pointless violence to alarming levels until the last few pages where outright horror rears its head with full pages and one double-page spread in particular, leading to an ambiguous and dark climax.