Monday, September 12, 2011

Manga Monday, Bloody Monday

Bloody Monday (Volume 1)
Ryou Ryumon & Kouji Megumi

Bloody Monday, a new offering from Kodansha Comics, features a young prodigy, Takagi Fujimaru.  From the outside, he seems like an average high school student, but he's really Falcon, a brilliant hacker able to do amazing things with a computer.  And he's not a malicious hacker, but works for the good of others, as is seen with the first threat that Falcon goes up against, a teacher who tries to sabotage students' academic careers by abusing a demerit system, ultimately leading to the attempted suicide of a teenage girl.  The teacher is a very one-dimensional villain who lusts after his female students, and Falcon is easily able to expose him, for the overall good of the school.  Falcon's father works for a super secret government cell, and when he is framed for murder, Falcon vows to track down the real killer and restore his father's reputation.  But it's not quite that simple, as the events that lead to his father's status as an outlaw have to do with a much bigger threat, that of a virus able to kill a mass population quickly, to horrifying results.  All around Falcon are agents trying to trip him up or outright kill him, but Falcon has a group of friends at school who help him during this trying time, and together with his hacking skills, they just may be able to save the day. 

Bloody Monday is a flashy spy thriller, but beyond those action elements, it's pretty meager storytelling.  The characters are flat and one-note, leading to little investment from the audience, especially in characters like Falcon's sick sister, who the creators use shamelessly to try to create empathy.  The gore and fan service is also ridiculously over-the-top.  The inappropriately oversexualized teacher-spy (Maya Orihara) who takes over for one of Falcon's classes is especially silly when she interacts with the class, the male students lusting over her, unable to control themselves, and the females arguing with her, in a world where a teacher can insinuate that the girls' bodies need to mature to be competition, without repercussions (although the teacher that she replaced was fired for his oversexual behavior, so it seems to be a double-standard here that if the teacher is attractive, it's okay).  The creators go just too far to cater to the male adolescent reader here, neglecting to base the story in any semblance of reality, and with little regard for the characters of the story.  The surface spy elements can be fun, but this is one book that you forget the moment you put it down.

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