Direction: Right to Left
By: Keitaro Takahashi
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: Seinen, Adventure
Jonah is a child soldier, born amidst the chaotic conflicts that rage across West Asia, his family lost to a war fuelled by weapons supplied by the so-called Merchants of Death–international arms dealers. Despite Jonah’s hatred of weapons and violence, he employs both extremely well in the service of high-flying arms dealer Koko Hekmatyar and her band of mercenaries. Their journey through the dark underbelly of the world’s arms markets may lead only to damnation, but will Jonah one day make his way back to the light? Only one thing is certain: it’s going to be a long, hard road out of hell…
If i had to describe this series in a single word, it would have to be outstanding.
For me, this series has everything i could want or need from a series, and was a complete joy to read. so much so in fact that when i bought it i originally planned to just read the first volume, but got so into it i read all 11 volumes back to back and ended up taking a day off work lol.
The art style of the series can be a little off putting, some of the characters have very odd looking designs. Yet after i think that these design choices added a lot to the personality of the characters. A great example of this is Koko, the main protagonist of the story, her design is very weird and times looks a little freaking. Yet i have to admit that it adds to her wild, and slightly insane vibe that she gives off from time to time. it leaves you with a very powerful ‘WTF is she doing’ vibe that i find exhilarating.
One of the key points of this series is that Koko is an arms dealer, so you’d expect and hope that the weapons looked good, and they do. What’s more throughout the entire 11 volumes i never once found a weapon that looked wrong, not that i’m knowledgeable about weapons mind.
The settings are really well done as well, with the various backdrops of the travels been well developed and drawn. What i really liked is that you literally get everything, from deserts, to suburban, all across the EU, US and Asia and Africa. Once again we have a lot of great design in the working and some sweet looking backdrops.
Once you get used to the art i think it’s hard to fault it, personally i think it’s one of the best looking manga i’ve read in a long time.
One of the really surprising aspects of this series are the suport characters. Everyone of them has amazing personality and an almost overpowering vibe from them. Even characters that you won’t see for very long have a huge impact on the characters and a strong personlity. This really surprised me as this is usually where things slip a bit. Keitaro however pulled it off spectacularly.
Koko’s team is a bunch of comical nutters, and in the ‘off’ time they’re bantering around and making fun of each other. However as soon as it calls for action everything changes. I’ve usually had a problem with this in the past as not many people can pull of the change properly, it usually ends up feeling wrong. The commical aspects are usually forced in to try and relieve the seriousness a bit, and it just dosent flow right. However once again Keitaro pulls off a perfect change in flows and makes it fit naturally, a part of the characters personalities.
Throughout the entire series i never found a single character that was lacking, which was a first for me.
The story is a little interesting, it starts of focusing on Koko being a weapons dealer and the deals she makes. at the same time it sets up Jonah, and leaves you wondering just what he is to Koko. Over the course of the volumes we start to get hints of Koko’s real plans, and when things finally go into full swing we’re pulled along on a joyride of mayhem. I loved the revelation of Koko’s plan, and how Keitaro handled it, and how it plays out.
Yet in the end it all comes down to the entire story being about the relationship between Koko and Jonah, and the way that changes in the last few volumes was amazingly well done.
What i found even more amazing however is that this appears to Keitaro’s first manga, which IMO makes this the best first release i’ve ever read! A lot of people seem to be comparing it to Black Lagoon, but i personally don’t see it TBH.
Now we get to the english release, and sadly i have some issues with this. Viz it seems haven’t gotten the memo that locking your content is not a good way to win readers.
The actual translation work is okay for the most part, i noticed a few places where text was in the wrong box so the wrong person was ‘saying’ the things. It wasn’t a lot, so it wasn’t to bad, but i do wonder what sort of QA they do for their releases to let mistakes like that through. Next we have their damn annoying habbit of editing the SFX out, why they don’t leave the originals in and just add a glossary (as they did in several other releases) is beyond me. And finally we have their handling of Kindle content, they clearly don’t have anyone on staff who knows how to firstly make the kindle files, and secondly not to lock it behind devices.
Viz have a thing of producing kindle volumes that are 100mb+ some are over 150mb, which is just plain stupid. Jormungand alone takes up just under 1gb of file space. I’ve another series on my device that has 18 volumes and only uses a little over 400mb of space. So someone over at Viz needs to learn how to compile the kindle files, and at the same time to learnt to STOP FUCKING DEVICE LOCKING!!!
This is something that is seriously starting to irritate me now, Viz is the only manga publisher to lock their content so it only works on Android devices and iOS devices. I have a PC, Laptop, and a rather nice Windows Tablet that i use a LOT. However Viz wont let me read their releases on any of these. There’s no reason or need to lock content to devices, especially given that windows phones and tablets are quite popular now. How i read your title is up to ME, not you. Your totally out of luck if you have a Blackberry phone or tablet as well.
Hopefully Viz will get with the program and follow other publishers, Kindle is available on multi platforms for a reason, to allow readers to read on multi platforms, stop trying to prevent that.
However overal i love this series and highly reccomend it! Despite my gripes i can’t help but love this series and i’m really looking forward to getting the anime next month!!