Sunday, 4 November 2012

Speed Grapher Vol: 1
Released By: Tokyopop
Author/Art: Tomozo/Yusuke Kozaki/Gonzo
Format: Japanese/BW
Pages: 111
Rating: 18
Release Date: Out Now
Reviewed By: Sandra Scholes

"How could he awaken as a euphoric? A natural carrier shouldn't exist. Could he have been there at the battlefield?"

Former war photographer Tatsumi Saiga thinks he has settled for a much easier life after being injured in the Middle-East becomes an opportunist photographer, a papparazzi hated by all who are in business who want to keep their secrets out of the papers. Unsuspecting Saiga though is about to find his easy life turned upside down when he chases his new target for the photo opportunity of the moment to a prominent man's address, finding the guy dead, but nothing looks normal, certainly not when the one who has killed him is still in the building  A man clothed in black rubber and wearing a mask to hide his identity and on the surface he seems like any felon until strange things start to happen earning him the name 'plastic man.'
When Saiga finds out about the famed and notoriously peculiar Roppongi Club, infiltrating its walls, he discovers Kagura, a girl who is set to be head of the Tennozu empire where he meets her and is given the gift of a strange power, the power to kill using his camera. Rescuing  her from the club seems like a piece of cake but until he is faced with the chairman of the club, Choji Suitengu, one of the richest men in the area who has his hands in all kinds of unsavoury dealings. After this chance encounter, Saiga's life just gets more dangerous along the way.

Originally a hit anime series staring Choji Suitengu as the main antagonist who appears to want to use Kagura to entertain the millionaire guests at the club who are reported to pay very highly to become members in order to indulge in their wildest sexual and depraved fantasies. The manga based on the story by Gonzo and illustrated by Tomozu and Yusuke Kozake reads like an adult rated kink romp through a photographer's life  interrupted by a girl he just cannot let go of and a case that eats at his very soul to solve it. This is lavishly illustrated in the mainly shonen style with the absence of cuteness unless the reader does not count the rather dashingly shonen-ai looking Choji who can cause more trouble in the manga than anyone thinks.
Readers will like the detailed artwork, action scenarios, sharp dialogue and gripping story. For those who have watched the anime series they will find the manga the perfect compliment to the series. Bonus material includes an Afterword telling how the story came about plus a mention of the three main characters and what the manga-ka thought of drawing them.

Verdict: A real shonen treat for fans of action, drama and nail-biting suspense.

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