History is such a huge factor in the growth of a relationship, platonic or otherwise. There are some things within ones past that simply cannot be overlooked and, as humans, these are things we will never forget. This is just the way we are. We use what has happened in the past to define how we will grow into the future. Sometime for the better but other times for the worst. ‘Gangsta’, for those of you not in the know, is a new Manga series that follows the story of two men living in a town entirely occupied by killers, thieves, con men and criminals of all different types. Ergastulum, the city, is teeming with these ‘bad eggs’. What makes this place even worse is that some of its citizens happen to be the remnants of a civil war wherein which humans were turned into super soldier-type beings through the implementation of drugs.
These are known as ‘Twilights’ or ‘Tags’. Worick, a gigolo and human memory card, has known his partner Nic, a deaf samurai and an extremely powerful ‘Twilight’, for almost his entire life. Together they live in Ergastulum and work as what they call ‘Handymen’. This means they’ll do just about anything; from cleaning your kitchen to killing a rival family’s boss, there’s nothing they will not do but there’s a storm on the horizon and they’re smack bang in the middle of it. Volume Three takes its reader back to to a time when the men first met. A time that will forever be burned into their very souls. A time when tragedy struck and they were both thrown into a future neither expected. A time I’m sure they both wish was but a vivid nightmare and not their reality.
Volume Three was written fantastically but that’s not to say the other two volumes were written any worse. Readers are confronted by some incredibly real and impactful visions of death, demise and treachery as we look back on Worick’s tragic childhood. The obvious theme of the volume is that of ‘abuse’ and what we see by the end is the overcoming of persecution. Both the young boys are subjects of oppression. While filled with well-written pieces of dialogue, I can’t help but be more impressed with the fact that Kohske, the Mangaka, can have characters speak volumes about themselves without saying a word at all. With simple glances and glares you immediately understand exactly what it is you’re supposed to. Characters interact in such realistic ways both seriously and comedically. What’s great about that is Kohske is obviously a professional at blending consequential conversations with that of more the more light-hearted ones and the same can actually be said about her art style. While hugely stylish and detailed, character illustrations go from incredibly dynamic to comically simple in the matter of two or three panels and it DOESN’T seem out of place. Any avid fan of Manga will know that something that impressive is not as present as it should be in the industry.
Even though Volume Three mostly revolves around the relationship between Worick and Nic, the other character still get a chance to be in the spotlight. Though not for long, you still get the impression that you’re learning something new about them. In fact, the entire volume felt that way. Sixty percent of it took place in the past yet I still had that overall feeling of story progression. This is, once again, not something ever writer can do. Often a series will stand entirely still when entering a ‘flashback’ period of story telling…’Gangsta’ Volume Three did not fall victim to this. It also did exactly what a flashback is supposed to do without being too dull. What’s appealing about ‘Gangsta’ is that it is shrouded in mystery. We’re introduced to many characters and we’re expected to just take them as they are because not even the people around them entirely know their history. To be given the opportunity to see the two main characters in such a different light is quite a treat and my hope is that the same will be done for the other pivotal members of the varied cast.
Kohske has a brilliant illustrative style that I’d very much compare to that of Hiromu Arakawa’s. It isn’t at all like they’re the exact some, it is more that they’re very much inspired by European environments and even people so the similarities, while not entirely obvious, are very much there. Kohske draws in a style that is, for the most part, realistic BUT characters tend to have more exaggerated features like most Manga series’. As mentioned above, Kohske does a very good job with facial expressions. She’s able to tell so much more of a story with one look and that in itself is such a feat of excellence. She can make even still scenes seem impressive and exciting but it is when you’re confronted by pages occupied by action panels that you get a chance to truly appreciate her talent. The way characters bend and move, the way their clothes and hair flow, the details in between their fingers…it’s awe-inspiring. There’s never I dip in artistic quality that isn’t on purpose meaning the same amount of time and effort was put into the small panels as well as the larger ones. Consistency is key when reading a Manga considering it relies mostly on it’s visuals. Even in volume three, I still find it so damn great that Kohske has chosen one of the main characters of this story to be deaf. It’s so different seeing a character converse mostly with hand signs and visually it looks fantastic. There’s no Manga that fuels my inspiration to draw more than ‘Gangsta’.
With every new volume I find a new reason to love ‘Gangsta’. Be it the art style or the story telling style, it’s simply genius and I cannot recommend it more. Most characters, good or bad, are likable in one way or another. There are no annoying characters nor are there any basic character types to find fault in. Every single one of them have a sense of realism which is saying a lot seeing as some of them are super human. I find myself in a constant state of excitement for the next volume of ‘Gangsta’. Even with the latest release in hand, I can’t help but anticipate what is to come in the next and I really do believe that’s the sign of an engaging and exciting Manga series. Month by month, release by release, volume by volume, ‘Gangsta’ simply continues to get better and better. I see something fantastic just ahead in the series and I absolutely can’t wait to sink my teeth into it. I now step back into a period of waiting. Waiting for next volume of ‘Gangsta’ to get its release and it’s a good place to be.
Head to Madman Entertainment’s official online store to grab yourself a copy of ‘Gangsta’ Volume Three: Click Here