Looking back on my roster of license requests, I’m noticing a tendency towards the sparkly or the introspective. Those are certainly my two favorite kinds of comics, but I feel like I’m neglecting ultra-violent manga. I mean, if the category is going to get marginalized in popular media for its sexed-up bloodshed, there might as well be more of those comics available in English, right?
In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that this wasn’t my original intent. I was looking through a list of titles serialized in Shogakukan’s IKKI anthology with the notion of maybe cobbling together a list of comics that might be added to Viz’s SigIKKI site. I saw one title, Freesia, and thought to myself, “Why, that’s one of my favorite botanicals! I wonder what it’s about?”
Okay, so Freesia, written and illustrated by Jiro Matsumoto, will not be posted on the SigIKKI site any time soon. There are nipples and hunting knives on page two, and while Viz is to be admired for expanding its catalogue with edgier titles, it seems unlikely that this is going to be one of their online loss leaders. Still, the series sounds kind of awesome in a Dark Horse kind of way.
Like Motoro Mase’s Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit (published in English by Viz, originally serialized in Shogakukan’s Weekly Young Sunday), Freesia spins out of a really misguided government program. Due to recessionary pressures, Japan closes down most of its prisons and passes a law that allows the victims of crime to take revenge on the people who hurt them. Since not everyone is equipped for that sort of therapeutic activity, a thriving sector of “Vengeance Proxy Enforcer firms” pops up in the entrepreneurial landscape.
Freesia follows an agency full of variously disturbed enforcers, some of whom seem to have specifically useful skills when it comes to assassination. Here are links to Shogakukan’s listings for the first six volumes. If you click on the button with the magnifying glass under the cover image in the listings for the first six volumes, you can look at some sample pages, though I don’t recommend you do it at work:
It’s also been published in its entirety in Spanish by Ivrea, and I think there’s also a live-action movie.
I have no idea if Dark Horse is able to license Shogakukan titles, but they do seem like the most natural habitat for manga with lots of brutality and nudity. Just have the shrink wrap and the “Mature Content” stickers at the ready.