Hidden Gems – Manga Reviews: Akumetsu

Akumetsu is a Japanese shōnen manga series written by Yoshiaki Tabata and illustrated by Yuki Yugo. Akumetsu was serialized in Akita Shoten’s Weekly Shōnen Champion from 2002 to 2006.

The story centers around Shou, who plays a charismatic vigilante named Akumetsu. However, his targets aren’t the usual super villains or bank robbers. No, his targets are the corrupt servants of society: particularly government officials. His motto is a one target one kill. Throughout the story, he kills these officials, while exposing their dirty deeds and forcing them into despair. In addition, after killing them, he commits suicide. I don’t want to spoil anything, but if you really want to know how he does this, I suggest you read the manga.

Shou as Akumetsu
Shou as Akumetsu

The story is one of the more intriguing series in manga. Yes, there are many manga that have delved into political system and corruption, but this one just really intrigues me. It looks into the Japanese societal structure and pretty much rips it apart, by pointing out the various flaws that corrupt officials do: such as money laundering or use of medicine that has not been tested. It shows the very ugly side of the political structure, whether they are flaunting their power, or begging for mercy. However, it also shows the more positive members of society (particularly the police, who try everything in their power to stop him, not because they’re with their government, but because they don’t believe the way Akumetsu handles things. It is a game, where the cat must catch the mouse, before it gets the cheese. If anything, this manga reminds me a bit of an action-oriented Death Note. The MC isn’t looking for godhood, but is doing all that he can to cut evil, by committing evil. Just to clear things up, I do not really believe that this is better than Death Note, as Death Note is a bit more complex in story and structure. However, I will admit that I do prefer the character Shou over Light.

As for the art. This is where things get really controversial. The story itself has a bit of controversy, surrounding the political system of Japan. That alone is arguable. However, it is the art that may press a few buttons. The art is great, pretty good, although a little rough around the edges. What strikes people, however, are the government officials in the series. Most, if not all, the political characters drawn look almost exactly like real-life politicians and officials from Japan, which may cause a number of questions and problems. It’s like having a main villain of a story look exactly like Obama or Sarah Palin. It will cause a bit of attention. Another thing that I’ll point out is that it’s pretty graphic. It isn’t to the extreme like Franken Fran, but the amount of blood and expressions the characters make already gives a vivid image of just how pain is being experienced, to the point that you can already imagine their guts exploding.

An example of the brutality in the series.
An example of the brutality in the series.
They don't really behave like the actual politicians, but this really can raise a few brows.
They don’t really behave like the actual politicians, but this really can raise a few brows.

This manga is loaded with dialogue and it can be pretty difficult to follow, since there is a lot of explanation concerning politics, economics, a bit of philosophy and social structure. However, I still recommend it, as it gives an interesting perspective into government and society, asking if we the people really do have power over the government, when we are so easily trampled by the social structure.

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