Takagi may look like an ordinary slacker high-school student, but he’s actually a computer genius who hacks-for-justice under the name Falcon. When Takagi’s father, deputy chief of a super-secret branch of Japanese Intelligence dedicated to preventing terrorism, is framed for murder, Takagi becomes caught up in an international conspiracy. The Falcon must act quickly to prevent a shadowy organization from unleashing a virulent new plague on the world.
Bloody Monday, Vol. 1
Story by Ryou Ryumon; Art by Kouji Megumi
Publisher Age Rating: T/Teen/13+; GCFK Age Rating: OT/Older Teen/16+
Kodansha, 2011, ISBN 978-1-935429-22-7
202 pages, $10.99
Ryumon has an interesting germ of a story, but it never develops into anything strong enough to keep readers interested past volume one. Mainly this is because the characters are too bland to support the plot. Takagi comes off as a lazy jerk, and even though we’re told that he is a genius with computers, it never seems like he does anything more challenging than what most tech-savvy teens can do. Other than Takagi’s earnest, hard-working father, the other men are either stock bad-guy characters or stock bumbling best friends. The girls come off even worse. Maya, the deadly spy, is all sex appeal, and even though she kills, she just seems silly, not scary. Takagi’s female classmates apparently only exist so he can flip up their skirts and show off their panties.
Megumi does some interesting things with the art, but they aren’t enough to save the ho-hum plot. The characters are mostly realistic, with just a few manga touches (rounded faces, big eyes, etc.). Takagi, however, undergoes a fascinating change when he starts his work as Falcon. His pupils become slits, adding a determination to his appearance that he doesn’t have when he isn’t hacking. It’s a nice touch that ups the appeal of the art. Kodansha’s layout is indistinguishable from the old Del Rey Manga layouts, including the “sneak peek” and the translator’s notes. Bloody Monday is actually full of notes, since the creators include notes—mostly about computer and scientific terms—at the end of each chapter.
But what is disturbing about Kodansha’s release of Bloody Monday is their age rating. The first page of the manga features close-up shots of strippers wearing panties and strategically placed boas. The scene quickly moves onto showing off Maya’s perky “assets,” which are barely contained beneath her dress. After she violently kills a man (apparently after having slept with him, since she is only wearing her underwear), she then moves on to an undercover role in Takagi’s school. I’m willing to suspend a little disbelief in favor of a pretty image, but no school would allow their teachers to show that much cleavage. Additional images include a toddler and her family vomiting up blood before dying of the altered plague. All considered, the teen rating seems very poorly chosen. For a more interesting title, that might be overlooked, but this one just wasn’t exciting enough to merit consideration. Libraries that want thrillers for their older teen patrons would be better served with Maoh: Juvenile Remix (from VIZ) and Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys (also from VIZ).
This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © Kodansha.