Manga StatsWriter: Shohei Manabe
English Publisher: Tokyopop
Published: August 23rd 2000
Unfortunately we’re still living in economically troubling times and due to the (let me be blunt for a sec) fuck ups of the World Banks, we’re the ones who have to pay for this. Due to this some people are at the lowest points of their lives and some now have no choice but to work with some iffy people to say the least.
Well that grounded the review into reality fast but anyway one should person is Ryosuke Kinuta, our main character for this (um) cherry tale. His a failing actor in a huge amount of debt with an unnamed gang but since the main gang of this manga happens to be the Yakuza it’s probably them. In order to pay off the debt he now works as a smuggler of illegal goods and dead bodies in a country where smuggling bodies lands you in jail for a couple of YEARS if caught.
Before I continue let’s talk about the people behind Smuggler. Smuggler was brought to use by writer Shonei Manabe who you may remember for the manga “Dead End” and was drawn pretty well for the most part by somebody who I can’t find because oddly enough Smuggler doesn’t really have a Wiki page.
Back to the plot that I teased you with earlier in the first paragraph, along with Ryosuke the plot also follows an assassin called Spines. At the start of the manga Spines and a partner who isn’t important enough for me to mention kills a senile Yakuza boss and his henchmen which he does quite well with nunchucks and guess who has to clean up most of the mess because Spines kindly helps by mailing his head to his wife who is way younger than him and whom I’ve called Botox.
Dear God he actually kissed me.
Now Ryosuke isn’t smuggling bodies alone as his joined by Noboru Tsukada, an old man whose only real character trait is that his a complainer and apparently the driver and his boss “Jo” Hanazono whose a bit of a asshole who enjoys picking on the old man but its explained that years of smuggling has harden him. Oh and he also has a fight scene near the end of the manga too.
So to speed things up a little Spines gets betrayed by his partner and it’s up to Ryosuke and the gang along with Botox’s to hand deliver him to the Yakuza.
Honestly I enjoyed the story for the most part. There are little things I could have done without like a seemingly pointless scene where we’re shown that a member of the Yakuza is a sadist and while I’m on the subject of that guy, why the hell does he strip naked when SPOILER ALERT his tortures “Spines”.
Okay I get it, the Yakuza tattoo looks cool and his insane but seriously it makes no sense at all. “Huh” It’s been awhile since my last article and I’m still writing what’s on my mind. Anyway before I got distracted I was about to say that I like the way that both plotlines come together. Sure the method was a little obvious but it worked.
I also liked the way Ryosuke’s character improves as the manga goes on. He starts off as a complainer who always tried to take the easy way out which is how he got into this mess in the first place but by the end he “SPOILER ALERT THAT I ALREADY HINTED TO” agrees to impersonate Spines after he accidently helped him escape due to Spines taking advantage of his kindness.
What follows is him getting tortured by the sadist Yakuza member yet he never gives in. He doesn’t really have a reason not to give in either, he knows his going to die anyway but he refuses and that’s pretty cool. Oh and he knocks that Yakuza prick out too.
- Now do you understand why I call here Botox’s
While Ryosuke is the main character of the manga, Spines himself is a interesting character himself. Besides that stupid spine tattoo on his back (at least I think it’s a tattoo) Spine reveals early on that his is actually afraid of death.
Don’t get me wrong he doesn’t mind killing other people but it’s the thought of his own life ending that scares him which is surprising considering who Spines is and the fact that his very good at his job. It just goes to show that no matter how tough someone looks on the outside people are scared of what they can’t control although I may just be reading too much into things again.
Lastly we get to the bit I’ve been dreading with the art. It’s not that I hate it because I don’t. I actually feel that the style really does suit what the story is going for and shows a surprising amount of detail in little things.
While they do a good job with static objects, some of the human characters just look weird. I can’t really put it into words (not a good thing for a review) but let’s take Botox whose name by the way is Chiharu Kodama. Her lips are unnaturally large so they just look goofy when compared to the seriousness of the rest of the plot.
Anyway that was Smuggler by Shohei Manabe and I enjoyed it. While yes the people are drawn slightly weird did help take me out of the story a little, the two main characters are both interesting especially Spines and its nice to see them both grow as characters.
Ah yes another stable member of the Yakuza organisation
So that’s the end of my first Manga review so what’s your opinion? Should I continue review manga or just stick to anime although if I do continue however I’m not getting rid of the anime reviews. That is sort of what Gearfox’s den is all about and yes I’m still called it that.
This Halloween I’ll be returning with what could be my most scary review yet with Akira. Don’t get me wrong it’s not scary because Akira is a horror because it isn’t but with peoples comments if the review turns out to be crap or I don’t like the show that got people interested in anime to begin with as long as I can find a copy anyway.