Tsumi to Batsu (A Falsified Romance)(Manga) Chps 70-END Review

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Rating: 8/10

Plot: After a meeting with Mr. Goi, Miroku has to make a decision about his future with Echika.

Breakdown: I read the first 69 chapters of Tsumi to Batsu last October, and while I had some problems with it, I really enjoyed what I had read.

Now I’ve had a chance to read the rest of the series, and I’m satisfied with how it ended. I mentioned in my previous review that the best endings for this series would have to be either Miroku getting caught or turning himself in, and that did happen. I won’t say which to avoid major spoilers, but there ya go.

He has a very interesting conversation with Mr. Goi which sends the events of the ending into motion, but we get sidetracked slightly when Sudo shows back up to play a game with Miroku and Echika, but it also closed out his story and explored his views on the situation quite well. I am a little weirded out that they legitimately had a moment where Sudo and his friend Huang bonded over dumping the rotting body of a prostitute over a cliff….

The romance part gets more explored here with Miroku and Echika, and despite the major flaws in both of them, their relationship does make sense. I’m not even really sure if there’s so much of a relationship and moreso of a co-dependency, but that’s a call for the reader to make I suppose.

Miroku does get a lot better in regards to personality after his conversation with Goi. He still shows some signs of sociopathy, mostly in the fact that it’s taking him an inordinate amount of time to understand that no matter how much of a bitch Risa was, it was wrong to kill her and Hikaru. Even by the end, he’s only starting to gain some modicum of remorse for it.

I will say one aspect that I thought was very disappointing was the lack of a final conversation with Yoshino. Everything he did beforehand was for Yoshino’s sake. He didn’t want her to ‘have’ to marry that rich businessman in order to support him, so he murdered Risa for the sake of her money, after justifying it by stating her death would be for the best for many people.

They don’t even speak together in all of the 20+ chapters beyond chapter 69. They do speak to each other when Miroku’s in prison, but we don’t see what she’s saying. Closure with her was necessary, in my opinion, yet we really got none. It’s kinda implied that maybe she did get married to that guy but maybe got together with Miroku’s old roommate after news of Miroku’s actions came to be public, but I could just be reading too much into it.

In the end, this was a fantastic story and a great character study. It starts to wane on you with all of its depressingly dark tones near the middle, but luckily you also start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel at chapter 70.

The art is simply gorgeously detailed, even if Miroku’s face still got on my nerves sometimes. I know he’s not going to look fresh and proper since he’s struggling so much emotionally and mentally, but his expression hardly ever changes and his eyes just got to be depressing to look at. Then again, that’s probably the point. When he finally smiled near the end, I smiled with him because damn that was refreshing, even if the circumstances were sad.

Give this a look-see if you can stomach some really heavy and dark subject matter. It’s a great read.

Additional Information and Notes: Tsumi to Batsu was written and illustrated by Naoyuki Ochiai. It was published by Manga Action.

Volumes: 10

Chapters: 93

Year: 2007 – 2011

Recommended Audience: Very dark tones, attempted suicide, actual suicide, a couple sex scenes, full frontal nudity, rape from the previous section, prostitution and murder. 17+

Manhole (Manga) Review

Rating: 9/10

Plot: After a strange man wanders into a street naked while crazily babbling to the people around him, he accidentally ends up dead. When his body is examined, they discover that the reason for his crazed behavior was actually an illness caused filaria which is usually transmitted through mosquitoes in Botswana. However, they’re in Japan and it’s the middle of winter, making the likelihood of mosquito bites extremely low. Someone is purposely breeding the disease in Japan and spreading it throughout the city, setting to make a complete outbreak over the country. But what is the true nature of filaria, and why is someone spreading it across the city?

Breakdown: Manhole is basically a mystery or thriller manga involving the strange case of filaria that is spreading throughout the town. Explaining what filaria is might be a spoiler in itself, but let’s just say that it’s not really a lethal disease if you have enough willpower. It will take only your right eye if you do, but if you don’t you could easily end up dead.

The case takes a lot of interesting twists and turns as we follow our investigators and subsequent main characters of Inoue and Mizoguchi, a somewhat rookie and veteran cop respectively. These two bounce off of each other very well and while we get really no backstory on them whatsoever, their characters really seem real and are both really likable in their own respects. Inoue took a bit of time for me to actually get into liking her character, but she was never annoying or unlikable to me.

The story is very intriguing. While it really seems like bio-terrorism from the getgo, the actual purpose behind the spread of the disease is equal parts tragic, sad and creepy. Basically a biological version of Saw, in a way.

The art is gorgeously detailed in both environments and character designs, though I do have to say that there are some instances where the art looks like it kinda doesn’t blend in quite well like with Inoue’s facial design. Everyone is drawn to look very realistic yet Inoue’s design leans a bit more toward traditional anime style. The angles and shading choices are spot on, and it’s also one of the few books to have such disgustingly detailed artwork, meant in a complimentary way I assure you, to actually make me cringe and get goosebumps. It is some deliciously grotesque artwork sometimes.

Bottomline: This is a fantastic mystery, and an intriguing case with a great focus, characters and even antagonists. The artwork is superb in even the tiniest of details, and while it’s not particularly scary it will likely give you the chills a few times with the nature of the disease/parasite. It’s also at a great length, though it does occasionally feel like it’s dragging a small bit. I’d recommend it to anyone with a love of crime dramas, creepy visuals and antagonists with legit stories.

Additional Information and Notes:

Manhole was written and illustrated by Tetsuya Tsutsui.

Volumes: 3

Chapters: 29

Year: 2004 – 2006

Recommended Audience: There is some seriously gross imagery here, both in terms of the effects of the disease and gore. There’s also self-harm/suicide, swearing, hinted animal abuse-ish-kinda, and several instances of non-sexual nudity though there is sexual language as well as mentions of rape. 17+

W Change! (Manga) Review

Rating: 7.5/10

Plot: Maki Kisaragi is the heir to a well-known and feared Yakuza clan, and she holds the Kisaragi’s blood that grants her with the unique power of having dual identities. One is the mild mannered Maki who wants nothing more than to escape her life as a child of the Yakuza and become a normal bride, the other is a violent Maki who loves nothing more than violence and fighting and would love to take over the Kisaragi group. Maki is also deeply in love with another yakuza heir, Tatsuya Fukama of the Kokushin group, who seems to want to pursue a life in the yakuza. Maki has to deal with her shifting personalities and trying to shake off her yakuza ties to achieve her dreams, but not everything turns out as you plan.

Breakdown: This is a somewhat unique story as it has an interesting combination of slice of life, romance and crime stories. A good chunk of the first half is mostly about Maki and introducing us to her perils in dealing with both ‘violent’ Maki and her yakuza family. I was actually somewhat worried that the whole yakuza thing was tacked on to change up a romance manga, but the second half really takes off with the whole yakuza plot points and makes for a really interesting and exciting gang war story while also keeping in plenty of character development and romance.

Maki herself is a little annoying in that her only goals for a decent part of the series is to be a normal bride, notably to Tatsuya. I can understand how a teenage girl would be apprehensive to join organized crime, even if she was raised in it, but just the fact that her only goal is to get married and be a ‘normal bride’ irks me.

She develops a lot over the series and even changes her goals quite a bit. She became a much more likable character in the last half even if there was a spot during the middle that seriously made me roll my eyes about her.

Tatsuya is one of those perfect guys who is a model student, incredibly handsome, a great fighter and of course sometimes plays the hero. He’s also very good at his job in the yakuza and is also best friends with a regular gang leader named Tachibana who has ties to his family’s group. However, he does have flaws as he gets injured several times in the course of the manga and makes mistakes concerning Maki. Despite his goals being the polar opposite of hers, barring the marriage thing, he still deeply loves her as well.

Their relationship is also very well handled. There’s no real BS or drama about their relationship barring one part during the middle that contributes to the note about eye rolling I made about Maki. They’re a very likable and cute couple, and they have plenty of chemistry and beautiful moments.

Later, they also go to school with another yakuza heir. Basically yakuza are everywhere. The only ‘normal’ person in the regular group of characters is a girl named Tomoka, who is Maki’s best friend from school. She knows about Maki’s personality problem as well as all of the other yakuza stuff with Tatsuya and Tachibana, making her a bit of a straight man.

The yakuza storyline is very interesting and kept me on the edge of my seat. While the activities in the yakuza weren’t super dark or anything over the course of the show, the story did take several dark turns.

The first actual murder that occurred blew my mind because they had been mostly about beating each other up and basically gang violence no worse than your average shounen show. But then they brutally murder a character that I really liked and damn it hit hard. Near the end they basically take the gloves off and start the real bloodshed, but that first murder had a lot of impact.

How they wrapped up Maki’s issue with her personality shifting was also pretty well-handled and even tied into what happened with her father who also possessed the Kisaragi’s personality shifting powers. It wasn’t particularly corny, and it created a bridge to a change in her character that actually made a lot sense instead of forcing it upon her.

I will say that the final chapter is pretty predictable and somewhat cheesy….I mean, really? (Spoilers) Maki’s grandfather decides to make the group into a charity and elderly nursing organization? I mean, yeah it kinda makes sense, but he was all about yakuza and keeping the Kisaragi group in power. (end of spoilers) but it’s also a nice ending with a basically believable ending, law and romance wise.

Art: The art is very well detailed and visually appealing, however, there’s not a lot that makes it stand out from other common anime art forms.

Bottomline: If you like romance and crime, or even one or the other, give this manga a shot. It’s well-written, fairly funny, exciting and changes up your average tales of romance and even crime. It’s no masterpiece, but it’s definitely worth a shot. There’s a sequel called Change 2 which is actually a short prequel to the story if you want to check that out first. Though I haven’t read it, it seems like a telling of how Maki initially found out about her other personality.

Additional Information and Notes: W Change was written and illustrated by Hiro Matsuba. It was published by Comic Blade.

Volumes: 6

Year: 2006

Recommended Audience: 10+