Plot: The year was 1865, New York USA. After the assassination of Lincoln, the country remained as divided as ever. Nonetheless, immigrants from all over the world started flocking to the United States to seek out a better life. Many of these individuals ended up in a place called Five Points, the worst slum in the world.
In a place wrought with poverty, violence and misery, it takes blood, sweat and tears just to get by. Brad Burns and his brother, Luke, wish for nothing more than to earn enough money to get a plot of land for themselves and live their lives happily.
Luke does this by doing tough jobs out at the harbor.
Brad does this by being the number one assassin of one of the roughest gangs in Five Points, the Grave Diggers. He’s so well known and so widely feared, that he’s earned the moniker of the Grim Reaper.
Breakdown: Here’s an example of a manga that had a fairly unique setting, a good starting point and great characters, but ultimately ended up falling a bit short because the overarching plotline is just not that strong.
Don’t let the plot synopsis fool you. This whole story amounts to mostly just a tale of revenge. Brad and Luke are the bastard children of a man named Edward King – an Irish immigrant who is the leader of one of the most feared gangs in the country, the Crimson Gang. He has a $15,000 bounty on his head, and is ruthless to the point of psychopathy.
King killed Brad and Luke’s mother, and they’ve desired revenge ever since. When there’s a massive blowup between the gangs in Five Points, both Brad and Luke decide to set out and kill him once and for all.
Along the way, they cover topics like racism against black people and the plight of the Native Americans as their land continues to get ripped from them and they get slaughtered by the thousands. While I wouldn’t say these plots are forced into the story, it don’t feel like it quite meshes with everything as well as it could’ve. These stories are meant to highlight not only the hardships of these people in the 1800s, but also how much Luke struggles with dropping his innocent nature and becoming the hardened fighter he needs to be in order to take down King.
It’s very important to explore this because it’s a massive part of Luke’s character development, but I still feel like the combination is the tiniest bit awkward.
One of the biggest problems is that Edward King is not a compelling antagonist. He’s just a massive asshole through and through. He’ll kill whomever he has to, even his own children, of which he cares nothing about, to achieve his goals. He doesn’t even have any solid goals outside of money and murder. He gains control of these areas and just abandons them, I suppose because he gets bored of them.
He’s intimidating, but he’s hardly memorable. I had to flip back through the chapters to even remember his gang’s name.
That’s the problem with all of the antagonists in this manga, to be honest. They’re all just psychotic assholes who flippantly maim, murder and rob. They don’t have any personality beyond that.
The story ends pretty much as you’d expect it to. It’s a good ending that wraps things up nicely, but it’s predictable. Also, it’s slightly depressing given how the conflict ended up.
Onto more positive notes, the art is astonishingly good. The details, the lighting, the landscapes, they’re all amazing. If I had one negative to say about the art is that some of the action scenes are a little hard to make out, but other than that it’s brutally gorgeous.
I stayed invested in the story from start to finish, and I find Brad to be a slick badass. Luke even becomes quite the badass near the end. However, I can’t deny that I was more invested in their story back when they were at Five Points. Their travels, beyond the story with Jenny and her mother, just didn’t connect with me as much. They were good stories that were fairly well-written, and I give them a lot of credit for even discussing that stuff in a manga of all things, but I felt like it was more connected and focused back in Five Points. I didn’t like jumping around.
Overall, this is a solid old west style gritty manga with lots of action, emotion, hope and badassery. It’s not breaking any new ground or living up to what I believe is its full potential, but it’s still a very good manga that I would gladly recommend.
Additional Information and Notes:
Green Blood was written and illustrated by Kakizaki Masasumi and it was published by Young Magazine.
Year: 2011 – 2013
Recommended Audience: Green Blood is filled with blood, a decent amount of gore, nudity and some sexual situations. People get killed a lot in various ways, and it’s hard to find a kind soul in this whole manga outside of the main characters. There are also numerous racial slurs and foul language. 16+