BLANK SLATE Vol. 1 by Aya Kanno (a J!-ENT Manga Review)
December 10, 2008 by Dennis Amith
“If you thought that ‘DEATH NOTE’ was dark and full of suspense, definitely give ‘BLANK SLATE’ a try. Involving, dark, twisted but yet manages to keep the reader interested and entertained.”
(C) Image courtesy of Aya Kanno
MANGA TITLE: BLANK SLATE (Akusaga)
STORY AND ART BY: Aya Kanno (菅野文)
FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: By Hakusensha, Inc.
PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC
RATED: T for Older Teen
What does it take to find your true inner self? Zen’s memory has been wiped, and he can’t remember if he’s a killer or a hero. And a lot of people will do anything they can to keep it that way.
Zen’s unearthly charm attracts a veritable rogues gallery. A bounty hunter becomes obsessed enough to become his new partner, while the daughter of a general treats him like some sort of guru. But when he meets a mysterious doctor who may know him from the past, Zen learns that the secret of his lost memory is definitely more sinister than saintly.
A story about a twisted killer.
I have to admit that when I started reading “BLANK SLATE”, I was surprised the manga was under the imprint “Shojo Beat”. So, far from the first manga graphic novel by mangaka Aya Kanno, this is definitely not a serious about romantic relationships, love triangles or happy times.
This is actually a pretty unique storyline that almost reminds me of a “DEATH NOTE” style of manga. Not that the series has any comparisons but I compare “BLANK SLATE” in the fact that the villains are stylish and despite their dark nature, somehow the charm of the main character (Zen), a killer bent on destruction has a quick wit and manages to find trouble but yet alludes the authorities who are on the manhunt to stop him.
“BLANK SLATE” is definitely a refreshing and unique storyline from Aya Kanno, a mangaka who started her career as an assistant to “Psychometrer Eiji” mangaka Masashi Asaki and began her own career in 2001 with the manga “Soul Rescue”.
Her fifth manga “BLANK SLATE” known in Japan as “Akusaga” is just an interesting storyline that revolves around a person named Zen. A charismatic man but also the worst criminal in history, the most sought out villain for his role in killing people.
Zen has an interesting history. He doesn’t know much about his past. In fact, he just woke up one day with urges to destroy and kill. The only two words that has consumed him since he had woken and has done just that.
Before I scare anyone off and thinking this is a manga about some sadistic individual, fortunately the story doesn’t focus on psychopathic murders but features how people who come across Zen, change. How his evil ways, end up changing people and he enjoys seeing people who were once good being corrupted by evil.
In one chapter, a bounty hunter who is hired to kill Zen ends up somehow siding with him.
In another chapter, Zen who robs a bank ends up in a middle of a terrorist plot and while escaping, ends up kidnapping a daughter of a general. The daughter who is blind and is literally stuck in her home and only able to wander in her back yard feels as if Zen is the person who can free her and destroy her world (ie. her life imprisonment).
This is just an example of Zen. His ability to use people for his own purpose and literally watch them crossover from purity to their way towards becoming evil or helping evil.
But at the end of the chapter, it seems that Zen has met his nemesis and as a person who likes to be in control now knowing he can be controlled by someone doesn’t set well with him and now he wants to know why it happened.
Definitely an exciting first volume and the storyline and the artwork by Aya Kanno are just beautiful to look at. The men are drawn in bishounen, cool style and overall, the artwork was done quite well. In fact, the character designs for Zen and various pages featuring him in sinister mode or a withdrawn, everything is well captured. Especially in the eyes. Kanno does well in making Zen a handsome man but showing that those eyes can not only be beauty, it can also be death.
“BLANK SLATE” definitely has a lot going for it. A very cool storyline and well-done artwork from Aya Kanno. And the fact that she was an assitant to Masashi Asaki who created one of my favorite series “Psychometrer Eiji”, it definitely makes me excited to see what she has planned for this series.
As for why “BLANK SLATE” is under the Shojo Beat imprint. I’m not entirely sure but perhaps its because the men are bishonen and even the first chapter had some yaoi vibe going on.
But the suspenseful storyline definitely draws you in. You have a good balance of action and suspense but most of all, a refreshing story that focuses on a killer who has enjoyed destroying and murdering but now finds himself in a disadvantage because someone has one upped him.
“BLANK SLATE” is a fantastic title that fans of “DEATH NOTE” can probably get into and enjoy! It’s not a happy storyline by no means. It’s dark, gritty but yet it’s written well and the artwork manages to capture the storyline very well. Definitely check this manga out!
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