Review by: Clive Owen
Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Author: Akimine Kamijyo
Genre: Graphic Novel
MSRP: $10.99 US
Rating: OT (Older Teen 16+)
Release Date: Available Now
An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind … but also more interesting.
If you had to compare Code:Breaker to any other manga series it would be Death Note. Both have main male protagonists who seek justice against the criminal element that threatens society and both do it in a deadly fashion that turns them into judge, jury and executioner all in one youthful package. Volume 1 of Code:Breaker introduces us to young man with an appetite for vigilante justice and a girl who sees him as nothing more than just a murder.
In the first chapter, we meet Sakura Sakurakoji who is the prettiest girl in class who all the boys want to date and protect. From afar, she seems like a lovely yet delicate flower who is dainty and gets emotional while reading. As it turns out, Sakura is karate and akido black belt and yes she does cry while reading but not some sappy love story but rather while reading her favorite martial arts magazine. Sakura also has a strong sense of justice, which is why she witnesses – from afar – a young man murdering a group of thugs with his hand that looks to have been caught on fire and wants nothing more than to put the young man away.
She goes to the scene of the crime but the police think somebody had just set a campfire in the middle of the park. With no sign of any human remains, its almost as if the killer’s blue fire had evaporated the bodies. More determined than ever to find the killer, she doesn’t care if the men who died where thugs who might have been involved in the beating death of a homeless man. The thugs deserve jail not death.
As fate would have it, though, a new transfer student arrives at her High school and it is a good-looking fellow by the name of Rei Ogami and Sakura’s instincts lead her to believe that Rei was the young man who slaughtered all those thugs. She even notices that one of his hands is covered by a black glove … perhaps concealing burn marks or an injury he might have obtained when killing the thugs? While Rei warmly greets the class and seems like a likeable fellow, Sakura isn’t going to give up until she discovers the truth about Rei.
Following him around, Sakura tries to get the young man to confess but Rei flatly denies that it was him. As I said, Sakura is one of those determined girls and when her classmates see her follow the young man around they automatically assume the Sakura is smitten by Rei. This, of course, causes something of an uproar since most of the boys in school are in love with her.
In the same park where she witnesses the murders, Sakura goes to feed the stray dog that belonged to the homeless man that was beaten to death. A commotion in the park leads Sakura to witness a group of gang members harassing more homeless people and – thanks to her strong sense of justice – she steps in to defend them only to find herself in danger. When “Dog” (the stray dog she’s been feeding) fails to protect her and gets badly injured, it is Rei who comes to her rescue. It is there that she witnesses the young man’s unusual power and another mass killing.
So begins Sakura and Rei’s little game of “Who is right?” as Sakura tries to get Rei to turn himself into the police department. Having witnessed the young man unleash the power hidden behind that gloved hand and – sadly – his cold-blooded nature that put an end to Dog’s misery in the process. He tells her that it wouldn’t be good to turn those thugs to the authorities because that kind of justice no longer works. The stubborn girl continues push her ideals to Rei but is confused by the young man as well. How can somebody who comes off as sweet but such a vicious killer? How could he say that evil can only be combated by evil and hand her the cute puppy that belonged to “Dog?”
Rei, it seems, answers to a boss and it this mystery person who suggests that all witnesses should be disposed of and that also includes Sakura. Having let her live after witnessing his killing spree in the park, a part of Rei doesn’t want Sakura to die. When she leads him to a very public place, Rei discovers something about Sakura that officially makes killing her a big no-no. What it is we have yet to find out but when Sakura and Rei head into a gang hideout, Rei proves he is willing to kill everyone … including witnesses.
The art in Code:Breakers is actually really good but if I had to pick a flaw it would be the visual gags in the series that feel out of place at times. When Sakura cries out “pervert!” to a cop after having witnessed Rei’s killing spree she looks like a Muppet and totally takes the drama out of the scene. Then there’s Rei and Sakura, they’re an interesting pair but hardly what you would call likeable off the bat. Still, this is the first volume and the series does have a lot of potential.
This series does show a lot of promise and that’s what makes Volume 1 of Code:Breaker such an intriguing manga series worth following. While it’s too early to tell what direction the story will take or if we’ll come to like the main characters, the dark tone of the series does make for a good read either way and more so if you loved manga like Death Note. We are certainly looking forward for the next volume.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Sakura is not only the prettiest and most popular girl in her High school but she’s also a firm believer in justice and martial arts and when she witnesses a young man murder a group of thugs using the power of a blue flame, she jumps at the case. However, a new transfer student named Rei joins her school and it turn out that the same person she watched kill the thugs. She quickly finds out that Rei is on a mission to eliminate all criminal scum in the city.
Kamijyo’s art is actually really good and the details in his action (or should I say murder) scenes are visually striking. Still, the comedic elements can feel out of place especially during the most serious moments.
Volume 1 of Code:Breaker is an intriguing beginning to a series with a lot of possibilities but it’s a little too early to tell where this story is going or whether the characters will grow on us. Still, the dark theme of this manga and Rei’s determination to wipe of the city’s vermin keep this manga interesting. Here’s hoping that the next volume will keep us hooked.
Review copy provided by Del Rey Manga