There is only one problem with buying manga from Kinokuniya in New York City: the plastic wrappers sealing the book make each purchase of an unknown manga a risk. The description on the back cover still strikes me as hard to read. Actually, I only understand “…her beloved gun will today also silently fan [lit. blow] a flame.” The the artwork on the cover shows a beautifully drawn woman and a well-detailed M1991 with a silencer. On that day, I was in the mood for a manga featuring a femme fatale. Perhaps, Silencer by Shou Fumimura could be another Noir?
At any rate, I purchased the volume and perused it on the train ride back home. This perusal reminds me of my first experience with gin: initially off-putting, but the fact that I now owned the item for good persuaded me to attempt developing a taste for it. In both the case of gin and Silencer, this proved a good choice; though, I recommend those who can’t stand sexually explicit scenes (There are four in volume one) not to touch this manga with a ten-foot pole. After an uncomfortable opening which makes the heroine, Shizuka Katsuragi, out as a species of sociopath, we come to learn that she is a Japanese cop with an on the job training assignment (kenshuu) in the United States. Even though her methods are not all above board, we soon understand that she actually does care about the victims of crime, which drives her to be especially ruthless toward gangsters. One might think of her as a feminine Dirty Harry. The reader finds himself particularly struck by her decision to both participate in a narcotics raid and assassinate a criminal Chinese diplomat even though she has only three days left in America. Note well, that she will not win praise for these actions nor benefit her own country does not affect her decisions.
And so, we have a callous but caring individual policewoman who proves herself as tough as nails for the manga’s heroine. The other characters, unfortunately, are not as lovable: Rei, Shizuka’s friend on the Japanese police force, is the serious and lady-like character we see over and over again in anime; Detective John, her American partner at the start of the series, is your ordinary, hard-nosed cop; and Detective Iba, Shizuka’s partner in the Seikatsu Anzen Taisaku Bunshitsu (“Life Safety Countermeasures Branch”–my dear readers can think up a less literal and better translation), cares about law and order but takes bribes and is rather immoral himself. The villains so far don’t last very long. So, I basically read Silencer for the heroine, the action, and the beautifully detailed drawings. It is rare to come across a manga artist, Yuka Nagate, (Yes, the illustrator for this series is a different individual from the writer) so intimate with the lines of the human body, which suggests some classical training in art in addition to learning the techniques for drawing manga.
Oh! Let me note a few things about the level of reading: it’s very hard and only gets harder as the volume progresses. The kanji tend to be unadorned with furigana, and one needs to rely upon their knowledge of radicals and memory of various kanji’s pronunciations in order to search for definitions. Both are important skills because about 40% of the vocabulary rises above everyday Japanese–a far cry from Nanatsu no Taizai!
And so, I recommend this to my dear readers who are adroit in Japanese, love femmes fatales, and can deal with graphic scenes. (This volume may easily be rated mature.) I confess to covering the more unpleasant panels with my hand or a piece of paper as I read the cleaner ones–kind of like how I read Akame ga Kiru, which features bloody moments and sexually explicit scenes with about the same frequency. Next month, let me see if I can read volume four of Slayer, a light novel, and give you a review of that.