Togainu no Chi Volume 1 by Suguro Chayamachi (amazon)
The outside of this manga set the two halves of my brain at war with each other. The cover image of a bleeding young man wearing a parka with a sword slung on his belt, moving through an urban landscape with graffiti on the wall proclaiming “Kill the King!” looked quite intriguing. But when I read the back cover I learned that this manga was based on a bishonen game property. Usually with manga based on bishonen games I tend to expect that the characterization will be a little shallow due to the mangaka’s imperative to draw a large number of pretty looking boys without much semblance of a plot. So I was curious to see if Togainu No Chi would surpass my low expectations for game-based manga.
I ended up reading a few pages here and there of Togainu No Chi over a few days instead of finishing it in one sitting, and that might have contributed to my finding the story hard to follow. But it seemed like there was a little too much story crammed into to few pages. There’s a post apocalyptic future where people play a version of poker called Igura by assembling hands from dog tags they take from other players after they fight. Rin is a young player of the game, accompanied from time to time by an older informant named Motomi. Akira is a former prisoner conscripted by the military and sent into the game zone to kill the top player of Igura, a shadowy character named Il Re. Many of the Igura players are addicted to a drug named line.
The manga skips back and forth between Rin hanging out in a bar, Akira’s entry into the city, and the druglords and executioners who keep the players under control. There’s a great deal of exposition about the nature of the game and post apocalyptic future Japan. The art in the manga is serviceable. There are distinct character designs, but the sheer number of characters still made the manga a little difficult to follow. The decaying urban backgrounds and heavy use of black tones summon up the gritty world where the Igura players fight and die.
Togainu no Chi wasn’t really compelling for me. It could be the type of manga that existing fans of the game will enjoy, but it doesn’t seem very accessible for new readers.
Review copy provided by Tokyopop