She smokes cigars, rides a motorbike, packs twin tommies and she has a dragon tattoo. But Ryuko isn’t from Sweden, and she’s not like anything Japanese crime fiction has sent us so far. Today we’re bringing you a first look at this manga graphic novel by Eldo Yoshimizu, which will appear for the first time in English this June courtesy of Hard Case Crime.
While Japanese crime novels can sometimes be eccentric, they tend to honour the style and conventions of the Golden Age and have been heavily influenced by the likes of Agatha Christie. In the downright pulpy world of manga, however, things are a lot more punchy and Ryuko is testament to this. She’s a resilient Yakuza who fights hard and is driven by revenge. After her mother is kidnapped she’s forced to kill her father, but things are about to get even harder for her.
The character is the creation of Eldo Yoshimizu, famous in Japan for his sinuous public art sculptures. His comic book creation has appeared on gallery walls and manga bookstands across the country. In book one of Ryuko, Yoshimizu delivers action, international intrigue and a complex exploration of morality.
“Ryuko decides she must atone for the crime of killing her father, but this is not a moral trial or a mere revenge play… the theme of the book is that there is good and evil on both sides of the same coin,” says the artist.
There’s a raw energy to Yoshimizu’s pencils, which is neatly offset by delicate touches such as the soft dash of watercolour seen on the book’s cover. Like all traditional manga, the panels read from right to left, but the action’s so hot you’ll soon be immersed in the story and won’t even notice. Take a minute to absorb the artwork below.