365 Days of Manga, Day 234: Speed Grapher

 

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SPEED GRAPHER • Tokyopop • Tomozo (art), Yusuke Kozaki (story), Gonzo (original creators) • 18+
Saiga, a former battlefield photographer now making a living as a sideburns model–I mean as a photojournalist–makes powerful enemies when he investigates a case involving a sheltered teenage heiress, Kagura Tennouzu. After barely surviving an attack by a grotesque creature in bondage gear, Saiga discovers that Kagura’s ultra-wealthy family runs a secret sex club…a cult dedicated to creating Euphorics, perverted supervillains whose powers are based on “the secret desire hidden inside them.” Soon Saiga ends up developing his own superpower–the ability to make things explode by taking photos of them–and must fight to save the hapless girl. Based on the anime series, Speed Grapher is a competently told adult superhero story. The plot tries to be dark and serious but the basic premise is unavoidably silly (does anyone really have the “secret desire” to stretch like rubber?), even without the sex club’s dorky Buso Renkin-style butterfly masks. Still, there’s a few interesting twists here and there. (The manga is actually slightly less kinky than the anime, in which Saiga has a sexual fetish for taking photos.) The dark, realistic art superficially resembles Takeshi Obata (Death Note), but inconsistent anatomy and action shots mark it as the work of an inexperienced artist. (Review by Jason Thompson; originally printed in Otaku USA magazine.)
** (two stars)
Today’s winner is Kaname O. of Texas. Congratulations, Kaname!