Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Yakuza in Love vol. 1 by Shiuko Kano review

Yakuza in Love vol. 1

Author/Artist: Shiuko Kano

Publisher: Deux Press

Rating: M – Ages 18 and up

Genre: Yaoi, Drama, Organized Crime

Grade: B+

I’m not one who enjoys violence. Most people don’t, but for some reason violence for entertainment is one thing they can overlook. Yakuza in Love by Shiuko Kana-sama is the one exception for me. Who knew that yakuza were so hot? Kano-sama, that’s who!

Aoi Ichimura may look tough. He has a large cross-shaped scar on his cheek. While growing up his grandfather always told him that he’d have a hell of a time finding a legitimate job. He’s now a member of the Hanagumi, or Flower Gang. He’s risen through the ranks rather quickly. But, he’s got a secret. He’s only able to get through his day-to-day dealings by sheer luck and BS. The reason he’s risen so quickly is for saving the life of the Don. When in reality he was pushing the Don out of the way because he didn’t want a baby bird to get stepped on. The Don seems to have taken a liking to Aoi and is constantly sending him gifts. Yes, the Don is gay.

Now that Aoi is somewhat of a big shot, he has been assigned to be the Underboss’ apprentice. Yuji Sakiya has spent the last little while in prison. He is the true epitome of what yakuza should be. Sakiya was also close to the previous Don. Once Aoi met Sakiya, he was smitten. There seems to be a connection between these two men. One of these connections is it turns out that Sakiya’s late wife’s name was Aoi. Because Aoi was told that Sakiya is a big, bad, mofo, he’s prepared for the worst, but he’s willing to lay his life on the line for Sakiya. Since Yakuza in Love is a three-volume series you’ll have to stick with it until the end to find out what becomes of Aoi and Sakiya.

Shiuko Kano-sama is a true genius. She is able to weave a very heavy story with her signature humor and truly gorgeous art. There are no girly looking men in this story. All you get are tattooed, gun toting yakuza. Initially this title held no interest for me. Like I said at the beginning, I’m not one who enjoys violence, entertainment or otherwise. But I reluctantly picked it up because I absolutely love Kano-sama. At the time there weren’t too many Deux Press titles, having been impressed by their licensing choices and their production values I knew that I wouldn’t be too disappointed. With the heavier subject material I had to read through the book several times to get a good grasp on the story and the characters. There are a ton of characters to keep track of. Thankfully at the end of the volume Kano-sama has provided a brief description of each character.

This book was originally published in 1996. You can tell because the hairstyles and fashion is somewhat dated. But the flashy shirts and funky suits is honestly how I see mobsters both here and abroad so it’s still pretty fresh. Having been reading a lot of manga starring schoolboys and salary men, a yakuza story is a nice change. With this being a Deux Press release they let the story and art do the talking. They produce high quality, no frills manga. With their titles they don’t need fancy colored pages and dust jackets (which those would only enhance the already great book.) This is a series to definitely check out. All three books are now available so you don’t have to wait (like I had to)! Read this series, you won’t be disappointed.

***Review Copy purchased by Reviewer***

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