Reviews

Jun 25, 2008
Beatnik (All reviews)
Written by the author now most famous for Alive and Skyhigh, thanks to successful film adaptations, this manga easily surpasses both, such is the fate of masterpieces forever burdened with the 'underrated' label.

Tsutomu Takahashi's crime thriller Jiraishin is a decisive step away from most manga tropes and conventions. It feels more like a manga adaptation of a gritty US TV series in the vein of NYPD Blue, or to go even further back, like a Japanese take on TV series The Equalizer.

What we have here are an array of very disturbing cases involving a variety of depraved yet fascinating characters who usually leave dead bodies in their wake. The imagination on display in the set-up and pay-off of each case is bold and assured, there are moments that will shock you, captivate you and repel you from the graphic imagery and storytelling in these pages.

The cases are mostly set in 90's Japan, superbly recreated thanks to quirks of the decade like gigantic brick cell phones and the fashion of the time. Some cases occur in other countries, so the locales visited are varied and show the dark side of other corners of the globe.

Speaking of dark, there's the main character Kyoya Iida. Never was there such a brooding cop in all of manga. Cold, economical, to the point, blunt. Not to the point where we can’t identify with him however, as there are very subtle indications of emotion behind that tough exterior. We don’t need to see our hero shed tears when the shit hits the fan for him personally, we just need excellent scene composition from Tsutomu, and we get it in spades.

Jiraishin just looks stylish as hell. Do not let the early 90's time period fool you into thinking you're going to be seeing outdated aesthetics. The manga is dripping in a dirty kind of beauty, and it has to because its dealing with dark crimes of passion most of the time. Criminals crazed with emotion, wild-eyed without any, calculating with greed, suffering through disorder, this manga runs the gamut for compelling motivations for doing crazy shit.

You will see plenty of crazy shit. Crazy in a real kind of way, this isn’t another MPD Psycho with fantastical corpse-arrangement. This is Jiraishin. Dark quakes reverberating in the underbelly of society; rippling up to the surface; tsunamis rolling across the lives of the innocent.