(w/a) Eldo Yoshimizu
Awhile back Titan Comics announced their first Japan title in the Hard Case Crime line, Eldo Yoshimizu’s Ryuko. The cover caught my attention and I did a little digging but couldn’t find much info on this title other than this was it’s first time being translated. Having not read many media in the “Hard Crime” genre I thought why not give it a chance.
Ryuko follows Ryuko who could easily be described as a gun shooting, sword slicing, all around badass high ranking member of the Japanese mafia. Throughout the manga we are reminded this through intense shootouts, high-octane motorcycle stunts and other characters reactions when they hear her name. The plot comes across as a basic mom is kidnapped forcing the daughter to kill her father, oh and raise a king’s daughter for him story. Okay so maybe that isn’t a ‘basic’ story, but it should be an easy to follow story, correct?
Problem being it’s not so straight forward or easy. Now stories don’t need to be straight forward or easy to understand to be a good read, but when you introduce someone then flip flop around it’s hard to comprehend, it doesn’t help that Ryuko plays around in multiple timelines that it is willing to jump around to whenever it wants. One moment your 28 years in the past then the next your 18 years in the future. If Eldo Yoshimizu told the story in a more cohesive manner the pace would have improved ten-fold with the story following along.
Art in manga is usually done by the writer and in this case is true. Eldo Yoshimizu’s art can be fantastic and chaotically beautiful on one page then the next page will look like chicken scratch. Yes that is harsh, but this happens on multiple occasions. On some double pages Yoshimizu’s artistic eye shines through showing us a bullet hell filled action scene that is violent, action filled, but most importantly visually clean. Where we can see each person’s action and the other reactions, and the order of viewing the pages, with a clear who did what.
Then on other double pages everything blends in like a kid made some human-like figures with thick lines covering the page calling it ‘action’. In this pages Yoshimizu tries to show movement and actions with lines covering scenes as if we were in the middle of it with bullets and such whizzing by. The problem is this turns out sloppy and looks as if it’s half finished.
For all the small problems in Ryuko the main character herself seems cool and unique, which I can’t say for other characters who seem to matter so little I can hardly remember their names. If these other characters were fleshed out some more and the timeline, and some pages cleaned up Ryuko could have been a hell of a ride, but instead it feels at odds with itself and incomplete.