On February 18, 2014 anime and manga publisher Viz Media will release the first volume of its latest action-packed manga series, “Gangsta.”, and they provided us with the opportunity to check out this exciting series from Kohske.
“Gangsta.” follows the journey of Worick Arcangelo and Nicolas Brown, two “handymen” living in the city of Ergastulum, where gangs rule and the cops spend most of their time cleaning up their messes. As handymen, Nicolas and Worick take on jobs that neither the gangs or cops will handle, often leaving a trail of blood in their wake.
The series begins with Worick and Nicolas taking on a job to wipe out every last member of a new gang that is muscling their way into one of the major crew’s territories. The job goes relatively smooth until the end, when the two decide that instead of getting rid of everyone they are going to take in Alex Benedetto, a prostitute that has been working under the gang’s now deceased leader.
Though their clients aren’t too happy, Alex begins to adjust to her new life living with Worick and Nicolas, answering their phone and trying to avoid letting Worick get handsy in his sleep. Though Alex seems to be adapting well and getting to know her new friends, despite warnings from those around her to leave before things get too dangerous, there is something off about Nicolas, aside from him being deadly with a sword and deaf.
In their next major job, Alex gets to see first hand just what kind of a beast Nicolas can really be, as they are called in by Dr. Theo to help deal with another gang, this time using a powerful mercenary known throughout Ergastulum as a “tag”. Nicolas is a “tag” as well, and though their showdown is impressive, the mystery surrounding the tags is what has Alex worried. Worick and Nicolas may have other problems however, as the end of the volume hints at plenty of more problems coming their way.
The story of “Gangsta.” is actually really interesting, it doesn’t totally feel original, but at the same time the characters and their interactions keep things feeling fresh. Though it might feel a little similar, the story is still great and after reading the first volume I’m even more interested to see where things go with the “tags” and what will happen with Alex as she learns more about Worick and Nicolas’ pasts.
The series does have its drawbacks however, there are a lot of lingering questions after the first volume, but it makes sense that main story elements are only hinted at early on. The brisk pace of the story also feels like it might move a little too fast at times, but in this case it is better than if it had been slow and dragged on.
Visually the manga has a nice look to it, the cover features an image of a scowling Nicolas and Worick with his back turned, while the back has Nicolas facing the opposite direction and Worick posing. Inside, the manga’s artwork is fairly detailed and the characters are all drawn well, especially Worick and Nicolas, who both have a good blend of pretty boy and tough guy. A lot of the focus seems to be on the facial expressions of the characters, which might be able to get the story across, even without the dialog.
As far as the text goes, the translations are all clear and have a good flow. It is also large enough to be read without difficulty and the dialog boxes don’t get in the way. It did take some getting used to with Nicolas’ black boxes for sign language and the shaky looking text when he actually does talk, but it fits well.
Overall, “Gangsta.” is among my favorite reads for the start of this year. The manga has a perfect blend of action and story, delivering an engaging journey that draws readers in and with the light comedy added, the series never feels like it gets too serious, even when things get crazy. Worick and Nicolas also make for great anti-heroes, in a city filled with crime they aren’t exactly angels among demons, they are just as violent and deadly as their counterparts, but they still manage to be likable characters.
Gangsta. Vol 1
Publisher: Viz Media (Viz Signature)
Story and Art: Kohske
Number of Pages: 192
Age Rating: Mature
Release Date: February 18, 2014
(A review copy of “Gangsta.” Vol. 1 was provided by Viz Media.)