Only Fools Look: Bloody Monday 1

A manga that I wouldn’t have discovered if it weren’t for the public library. Now I want more, and unfortunately, it seems as if the library only ordered volume 1. Does Kodansha still provide reviewer’s copies? I’ll be happy to review future volumes of this series!

Bloody Monday starts off big: conspiracy, Russian espionage, a viral outbreak. Now, if this were a Hollywood movie, we’d be seeing the likes of Jason Bourne or James Bond rushing to contain the damage. But, since this is a Japanese manga, we have as our hero a teenage hacker.

Fujimaru TAKAGI, a 2nd year and a staff member at the school newspaper, has a secret life as the famous hacker “Falcon.” He was out of commission for a while, but an incident involving a lecherous teacher pulled him back into action. Fujimaru’s father, Ryunosuke, is a deputy chief at the Third Division of the Public Security Intelligence Agency (which is Japan’s version of the CIA, I’m guessing), also known as “Third-I”. The father is involved in a lot of high-level intelligence stuff, and while he prohibits Fujimaru from hacking, he knows that the kid is pretty smart so he gives him a chip with encrypted data that he wants Fujimaru to crack.

(This is why I love manga: the setup could be so highly implausible  but I would ignore it anyway since the story is so compelling. It’s especially true with manga that’s billed as a thriller like this one.)

So, when Fujimaru’s father is set up for the murder of the Third-I’s division head, it’s up to Fujimaru (and his fellow school paper compatriots) to figure out how everything fits together and what “Bloody Monday” is all about.

If it wasn’t for Lori Henderson’s wishlist post, I wouldn’t have realized that the author of Bloody Monday, Ryu Ryumon, is the same person responsible for Get Backers!, Kindaichi Case Files, and Drops of God. I mean, I know (from Bakuman) that some manga authors use pseudonyms whenever they start on a different work, generally with the idea to differentiate it from a previous one. But for marketing to the American manga audience, I think it would really help if people could make the connection a lot quicker. I really enjoy this author’s work so if I knew that a new series was going to be available, then I’d actually seek it out and buy it.

Otherwise, I really like this manga. I like the art style and character designs. And even the panty shots and fanservice bits don’t bother me so much because it seems like it’s kept in check and within the context of the story. When Maya, the new biology teacher, is seen in nothing but her bra and panties, she’s at home, talking on the phone and feeding her piranhas (?). That makes sense — she’s within the privacy of her home so sure, she can be walking around in her underwear.  I also appreciate that while it’s a darker story, but the artist doesn’t feel to have everything covered in darkness. I actually want to see the art, so thank you!

One last note about the Kodansha Comics edition: there are two types of liner notes, a glossary of terms and their usual translation notes in the back. The glossary of terms must’ve appeared in the Japanese editions too, because the explanations seem sort of goofy. Do some people really not know what virus or outbreak mean? The actual translator notes, on the other hand, continue to be excellent. I love that they mentioned WinNY, which is a word that I haven’t seen in a long time…