BLANK SLATE, by Aya Kanno
I picked up this manga almost on impulse. I had some money on a gift card that I wanted to use up. The art looked pretty and dark. And, the whole series is only two volumes long, so it fit my budget nicely.
Zen, our main character, is an amnesiac, cold-blooded killer who reluctantly ends up investigating the mysteries of his past. Be prepared to leave your moral expectations at the door before reading these books, because there’s a lot of senseless violence perpetrated by the “good guy”.
It turns out the first chapter is its own stand-alone story, then the rest, chapters 2 to 8, represents the main story.
Volume one (chapter 1) – brief impression
The protagonist of this first tale, Russo, bears some physical resemblance to Takumi from NANA, with lighter-colour hair. I remember Nana (Hachi) used to say that Takumi might have become a yakuza if he hadn’t found an outlet in music.
Well, imagine Takumi as an underworld hitman who meets his match in master criminal Zen. Pretty. BLoody. Good!!
Volume one (chapters 2 to 4) – brief impression
The main story starts here and it’s somewhat milder than the first chapter. There’s less violence and the relationships between the characters are a bit more predictable. The artwork continues to be attractive, despite some instances of shrunken head.
The main characters spend much of chapter 4 in military uniform, so that’s some nice fanservice right there.
Volume two (chapters 5 to 8)
Good, focused, plot developments. Some of the translation work seems a little weak, making some lines difficult to understand within the narrative. Also, Zen apparently hasn’t lost the “last 20 years” of his memory, since he can remember back almost 10 years! Don’t know if that one’s the fault of the author or the translator.
As before, all of the characters are attractive, even the bad guys. Of course, once you get familiar with this manga, you’ll know that there are very few non-villian characters to be found.
Fairly satisfactory ending, though there could have been more story still. I felt some of the deaths were a bit unnecessary and illogical; even though I originally expected an even higher body count after that first bloody chapter.
BLANK SLATE would probably make a good anime. There’s enough material for 12 or 13 episodes, maybe with room for quality “filler” like chapter 1.