Ryuko – Review
We get previews of a lot of comics. However, we seldom get manga. Leave it to a British publisher to send us manga. This is the first English translation of Ryuko, the story of a powerful female Yakuza who tries to atone for killing her father.
Creator: Eldo Yoshimizu
Publisher: Titan Comics
Softcover, 256pp, $14.99, £12.99
Ryuko is part of Titan’s Hard Case Crime comics imprint, whose recent publications include Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer and Quarry’s War written by Road to Perdition author Max Allan Collins, Triggerman by visionary director Walter Hill (The Warriors), Peepland, by crime novelists Christa Faust and Gary Phillips, a new adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Normandy Gold by crime authors Megan Abbott and Alison Gaylin, and Babylon Berlin, a graphic novel adaptation of the book that inspired the TV show currently showing on Netflix.
Manga can begin to look derivative over time. This does not. It does have a manga sensibility that is undeniable, but the story is easy to follow and visually interesting enough to keep a reader flipping through pages. Even accounting for the right-to-left design, the pages help the story flow. The artwork is expressive, with brushstrokes mirroring the slashing motions and the spilling of blood.
There are pages that are absolutely beautiful. The detail work of tattoos and lace are breathtaking. The female characters could be viewed as exploitative or overly sexual. However, given that Ryoku is the deadliest person in the story, her actions take that aspect and use it to hide her deadliness. Eldo Yoshimizu beautifully renders the other female faces. The female forms are not the only thing rendered so carefully. There are scenes that have such detail that they feel real. Vehicles show an attention to detail that only come from caring enough in the creating the comic to do the research.
The story is very violent, but the characters have serious depth. It’s no wonder that Galleries all over the world exhibit Eldo Yoshimizu’s art. This volume is a chance for an English-speaking audience to appreciate it.
Final Rating: 8.5 (out of 10)