Friday, December 10, 2010

Code:breaker Vol. 1, by Akimine Kamijyo

Contest Book #8

Volume one of Akimine Kamijyo's series Code: Breaker is not for the faint of heart. And as the first few pages indicated the story was going to be an all-ages-friendly shounen manga, I found its sudden shift towards hardcore violence startling and unwelcome.

First-year high school student Sakura looks like a delicate flower, but her fragile facade disguises an obsession with honor and martial arts. When she witnesses a boy incinerating a group of gang members, she vows to bring him to justice—a goal that gets extremely complicated when the same boy turns up in her classroom the following morning, claiming to be the school's mild-mannered new transfer student.

Kamijyo's hard-headed heroine and flashes of humor kept me reading Code: Breaker, but I couldn't get past the fact that one of the two protagonists in this series is a mass murderer. He doesn't even limit his victims to killers and rapists—he offs a number of witnesses, too. The author shows him being kind to non-victims (picking up a pacifier for a sobbing child, etc.), but the scales of justice still seem firmly tilted toward "serial killer". Thankfully, the violence is fairly cartoonish... so I suppose it's possible that readers with strong stomachs, a healthy suspension of disbelief, and deep pockets might not regret shelling out $10.99 per volume for this intermittently amusing gorefest.

[Review based on a publisher-provided copy.]

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