Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Book-A-Day 2010 # 188 (8/10) -- Code:Breaker, Vol. 1 by Akimine Kamijyo

In Japan, everything must be defined and regimented -- down to the specific subgenres of popular entertainment. Thus, Code:Breaker -- which has absolutely nothing to do with codes or the breaking thereof, by the way -- is in the "Dark Hero" subgenre, as a text page from creator Kamijyo explains about halfway through this book. And so we have a dark hero -- Rei Ogami, a teenage boy with his hair in his face, who always wears one glove to hold back his secret power (and job) -- to burn to death bad people with a touch. We also have a spitfire heroine in Sakura Sakurakoji -- I have no idea if that name has the same kind of silly "Roseanne Rosannadanna" ring to it in Japanese that it does in English -- who is also the cutest girl in her school, making all of the boys swoon and want to protect her. (Of course, she's tougher than all of them put together, but the gender roles in generic manga are not to be thwarted -- at least, not when the manga-ka is in pursuit of an obvious and hoary joke.)

So Sakura sees Rei (the new transfer student in her school) using his power (to slaughter member of the local gang in a park), and is shocked and horrified. As usual in stories like this, she's the only one to see anything unusual in Rei, and -- also as usual -- her interest in him is quickly misinterpreted as romantic attraction. Rei is the nasty, conflicted loner that he must be, and Sakura is the demanding, morally focused girl that she must be. They'll eventually get closer together, but this volume still sees them in squabbling cross-purposes -- though Rei does note (very loudly, several times, so even the most cursory readers will get it) that Sakura is a Deviant Breed, and also (quietly, to the reader) that he couldn't kill her with his power even if he wanted to.

Code:Breaker is deeply generic, in plot, characterization, art, dialogue, and overall conception, and is really of interest only to hard-core manga readers who enjoy seeing the slightest of changes rung on their favorite premises. (For balance, I should have a "but" explaining something positive about the book, but there's really nothing special -- it's a moderately entertaining slab of cheese created to very specific, wearying, specifications.)
Book-A-Day 2010: The Epic Index

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