The first volume of Inuyashiki showed a lot of promise with a unique protagonist and some pretty good writing and artwork. The second volume, which I didn’t review, drove the story into intriguing, darker territories with the big bad’s introduction.
What does the third volume bring us? Is it good?
Inuyashiki Vol. 3 (Kodansha Comics)
Written and Drawn By: Hiroya Oku
Translated By: Stephen Paul
Lettering By: Scott Brown
A young woman named Fumino is living a completely normal and rather happy life with her fiancé… until something awful changes all of that. A monstrous Yakuza enforcer named Samejima sees her one day and decides to make her his own. She barely manages to escape him, but that doesn’t deter him from continuing his pursuit. This incident brings in our hero, Inyashiki, to help fight against him, but even our powerful robot hero may have difficulties with this beast of a man.
The Initial Impression:
The second volume of Inuyashiki was pretty dark with the arrival of the new villain, but still had an optimistic and upbeat bent in some areas as our hero continued to learn about his new powers and started regularly helping people. However, the third volume REALLY ramps up the darkness, getting tense and pretty uncomfortable to read at times as this poor woman and her boyfriend are dragged into a malicious Yakuza member’s world. It’s gritty, brutal, and far more graphic and explicit than the previous two volumes for better and for worse.
Story-wise, while not badly written, this arc feels superfluous to the rest of the series so far. For the first half of the volume, it plays out like a grimy, thrilling crime flick involving this young couple and the antagonistic crime syndicate. While it’s hard to read at points and it leaves you on edge, you are left wondering what this has to do with anything until the main character arrives. Even after Inuyashiki shows up, this story still feels out of place in the manga. None of the previous characters or subplots from the last two volumes are mentioned here (almost as if our lead character happened to interrupt a different series already in progress) and there was no character growth for our lead. It really feels like a draft for a crime drama that got mixed into the script or that the creator decided to take an abrupt detour into story idea he had kicking around the back of his head for a while.
Probably the brightest and happiest moment in the volume. This does not last long.
Though I have issues with some of the choices made and also the fact that the narrative in Inuyashiki Vol. 3 doesn’t really connect to anything at this point, Hiroya Oku still executed everything relatively well. The drama and the pain that the couple goes through is gripping and you really sympathize for them, while coming to loathe the villains (who feel a lot more realistic than our main villain). The book gets you cheering when Inuyashiki shows up to save the day and it is really nice to see that Fumino did save herself the first time around, instead of being mostly just a damsel in distress. The creator really knows how manipulate you, in generally a good way, to get you feeling the right way throughout the book. I just wish this connected back to the rest of the series better, instead of feeling filler-ish and overly exploitative (the rape scene was soooooooo not needed, especially since the writer already established how awful the character was).
The chapters in here are rather decompressed, often putting emphasis more into the movement and actions of the characters, along with how they express themselves. This makes the book a fairly quick read, since there’s rarely any dialogue heavy scenes and this allows for the artwork to do most of the talking. For some, this will blow by very quickly and you may not get that much out of the manga. For others however, it may be a rather engaging tale, since the creator lets the artwork tell most of the story and allows for the drama and powerful moments be more effective.
The very first chapter of the book I’m rather iffy on. The initial introduction to Fumino and her scene with her fiancé are ridiculously cheesy and upbeat. They go on about how happy they are, about how they are getting married, and being so lovey-dovey. It feels soooo incredibly telegraphed that something bad will happened to them, especially considering the opening with Samejima’s ‘plaything’ overdosing and him then raping a guy who wouldn’t move over in sauna. It’s kind laughable in how painfully obvious and ridiculous that the creator is setting up tragedy for this couple.
One aspect that remains stellar for this book is Oku’s artwork. The man does a fantastic job here in nearly every way. His characters are drawn very well, with plenty of detail in their faces and bodies, making them expressive and helping to sell every bit of emotion. For example, when characters are scared, you can feel it in how they are depicted shaking every so subtly or how their eyes widen and quiver. The locations and small details Oku includes really bring Inuyashiki‘s world life — to the point where everything feels almost photorealistic. However, I have to praise the layouts and the action the most. Oku knows how to setup a scene perfectly and let it flow, as his grasp of motion and movement is exceptional. The big scene with Inuyashiki confronting Samejima and Yakuza in the apartment is incredible, showing him charge and punch his way through goons and finally football tackling Samejima. Frankly, I don’t think this manga would be anywhere near as good if not for this terrific artwork.
Is It Good?
Inuyashiki Vol. 3 is an odd detour for the series. It doesn’t really feel like it has much to do with the main plot or any of the characters we’ve seen thus far, despite than having our hero showing up halfway through. Outside of that and some storytelling choices, Inuyashiki Vol. 3 is pretty good though. It’s a decently told story with phenomenal artwork that makes it worth a look. If you liked the last two volumes and know what you are getting into, definitely give this volume a shot.