How would you feel about having your life ruined? Having enemies out there that you didn’t know about or didn’t know existed? Old Boy by Tsuchiya Garon is a revenge story. Our protagonist is Goto. When we first meet him, he is the nameless man who was imprisoned for ten years. He was locked up in a hotel room and served food and water everyday. He doesn’t know who his captors are, doesn’t know why he was locked up and one day, he is summarily released without question. Goto asks them: why now? The only response he gets is that the terms of his imprisonment has been met and they leave him in a secluded park, drugged, with some pocket change.
The rest of the graphic novel centers around Goto and his plans for revenge. Revenge against who? His enemies are invisible to him. Who would want to lock him up for ten years and for what purpose? On this journey, Goto meets up with a young woman. Her name is Eri. Goto appears to be a lonely man to her with a story to tell that would only evoke disbelief. Slowly, Goto tells her his story and she believes him. They have a romantic interlude. However, Goto doesn’t want to involve Eri and tries to keep his distance from her.
Goto is a tortured hero of sorts. He was locked up for ten years and after his release he is forced to re-evaluate his past. Thus, he slowly re-enters life by getting a job to support his mission for revenge. However, he has no clue that he is being watched at every turn. Then one night, Eri asks about a scar on his back. Goto realizes that it must be a tracking device and asks her to gouge it out. Ouch. It’s from there that he has his first lead. It becomes of a game of cat and mouse. Goto manages to draw out one person who might know something about his nemesis and his imprisonment. He discovers that his captor paid 300 million yen for his lock up. We learn that the “lock up” facilitates the need of anyone looking to evade trouble or the law. The usual stay is around 3 days to a month. The client who wanted Goto locked up paid cash and wanted ten years for his stay. Goto seems to have pissed off someone big and he doesn’t know who that would be.
For the rest of the series we follow Goto who goes under an alias. We follow him into his quest of searching for his enemies who locked him up for ten years in a hotel room with food served to him the same time every evening. He managed to not go insane by honing his physical strength and becoming a lethal weapon. He finds some solace with a young woman named Eri who is rather innocent and seems naive of the danger that surrounds her new lover. However, I suspect her and eventually so does Goto but she reassures him that she is nothing to worry about. Hmmm. I think something is up with her.
Now for the packaging and artwork analysis. Each title is shrink wrapped with a parental warning advisory for adults +18 years and older. There’s sex, violence and rock and roll. The artwork is nice and the dialogue is clear and easy to read. There is the constant explanation of sound effects underneath most of the panels. I didn’t feel it was necessary but maybe for some readers it might be. The relationship between Eri and Goto is very intimate and very nice. There’s a connection there borne out of need rather than trust. Goto’s facial expressions with his overlarge nose seemed repetitive at times. He does a lot of squinting and frowning. Understandable since his life was ruined. He’s also tender hearted. There’s a scene where Goto is searching for a restaurant that his captors used to serve his meals and he is frustrated because he can’t find it. Eri helps him find it and he gives her a hug that takes her somewhat by surprise because he can’t convey to her in words how much she has helped him. This is a really good series that leaves you wanting more and kind of leaves you hanging. I hate cliffhangers. There are currently 4 of 7 volumes available right now. There’s even been a successful Korean film adapted from it. If you enjoy mystery/crime manga titles you shouldn’t miss this one. My grade, B+.
[tags]Old Boy (vol.1) by Tsuchiya Garon, Manga Review, Revenge[/tags]