12th Jul2019

‘Ryuko: Vol.1’ Graphic Novel Review

by Chris Cummings

Created by Eldo Yoshimizu | Published by Titan Comics/Hard Case Crime


Now, I love me some Manga and I’m a comic book fiend, but Ryuko has a unique feel to me, it isn’t the usual sort of comic book I’m used to, not in art style or in story, and I have to say… I like that. I’m always up for something different from my own personal “normal”. Created by artist Eldo Yoshimizi, this is a pulp crime thriller with style and grit galore, full of assassins, butt-kicking mayhem and classic yet still contemporary imagery that should appeal to old and new readers and comic fans alike.

The black and white art from Yoshimizu is pretty stunning for the most-part. It’s stylish and dripping in sexuality and violence, full of criminal tropes and characters full of complex personality. The traditional Japanese manga influence is extremely obvious, and there are definite elements of old-school comic books which made for a really interesting technique.

Without spoiling anything, I will say that the story itself is full of twists, turns and revelations that keep you on your toes as you read, and I thought it flowed nicely with the visual rhythm that Yoshimizu has created. The dialogue is crisp and witty, and the characters each filled with personality. It’s adult and ultra-violent, there’s plenty of bullets flying and there’s a lot of bikinis. Yeah… something manga fans will be used to is prevalent here too, the amount of times the female characters in the book are wearing very little. It doesn’t bother me, but I can’t help but find it a little awkward and perhaps a touch unnecessary. Still, it doesn’t hurt the plot, the art is still lovely, and the story is still a blast too follow.

Ryuko herself is a tough-as-nails Yakuza boss on a trail of revenge against those she holds accountable for kidnapping her mother and betraying her father. It is a tale of political chess, and of vengeance. With crime overlords, spies, murder and intrigue, it feels like a solid crime thriller fresh from the picture-house, filled with action-film style pandemonium.

I was a little concerned that my lack of personal interest in pulp crime comic books might make this a tough read, or perhaps my diluted knowledge of the themes explored would bring about a sense of confusion when it came to the actual plot, but I was happily dissuaded within a few pages. It’s an easy read, while still having enough deep and intense story pathways happening that you’re never going to be bored or uninterested in the story being told.

It looks beautiful, reads very nicely, and offers something unique, in my view, from what we tend to see these days. It certainly helps to sway me as far as becoming more interested in the pulp crime and hard-case crime comic landscape.

Ryuko: Volume 1 is released by Titan Comics/Hard Case Crime on July 30th. Pre-order a copy on Amazon now.


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