Author: Dall-Young Lim
Manhwa-ga: Sung-Woo Park
Publisher: Yen Press
Rating: Older Teen (16+)
Release Date: December 2010
Synopsis: “Mikami may have slipped through the Kaionji Group’s fingers once, but they aren’t to let her escape again! Before she can make her getaway, Saishu of the Shishigami Clan takes out Mikami’s beloved Ferrari, forcing her to face him in a battle. Enraged, Miami readily leaps into the fight, but without a contractee even the fierce Mototsumitama is no match for Saishu’s skillful attacks. Excel watches in tears as her only precious friend is bloodied and beaten… which rouses memories of another person she once held very dear.”
This eleventh volume of Black God pens up with suspense as Mikami is driven to confrontation (they destroyed her Ferrari!) with the sinister duo on her doorstep. At the same time has to look out for Excel who is still suffering from memory loss and now stays on the sidelines as a fearful young child. And as marks the bulk of this volume – violence ensues. And lots of it.
Mikami’s fight quickly becomes a one-sided affair as the fan-wielding enemy starts chopping her up to his pleasure. This guy is pretty darn annoying but he can at least fight. Many readers will find themselves rooting for Mikami simply out of wanting to see the twit she’s fighting get his – thankfully the chapter doesn’t disappoint. The tables are turned and in a very successfully dramatic show of attitude and speed lines. That’s more like it! Much as it was interesting seeing Excel as a child, having her return to her more serious-business-self was a turn of events both completely expected and likely universally anticipated.
Retuning to our leads, a recent trend in this later part of Black God is the sexualization of Kuro. By that I don’t mean she herself is suddenly over-sexualized, however. In fact something I’ve always liked about the series is how it’s starred a young bodied woman with short shorts that never felt like it was loli-pandering. What’s happening now however, is characters are looking at her sexually. Much of it has been very negative, molestation and implication of rape that’s left me more disgusted than most other series have accomplished. And this isn’t even to say I’m disgusted by the story or portrayal, but by the actions themselves within the story. The creators have sufficiently fleshed Kuro out to be an innocent, steadfast young woman who’s assaults become that much more horrific, driven home by the look of sheer terror on her eyes in this volume when she again comes face to face with the most sadistic character in the series so far.
Swinging back to the sexualized but not inherently negative, the scene that stood out to me in this volume the most, to the point I was shocked, was turning the page to see Kuro with her pants removed and Keita’s head between her legs. Say what? While his reasoning for it may be understandable in context, this particular method of approaching it felt so bizarrely forward and borderline obscene. Again, not to the direct fault of the creators but simply in the story itself. Kuro’s expression was sufficiently amusing because her expression probably well-mirrored those of most readers who suddenly find themselves on those pages.
While their training regime offers up some nice downtown and a touch of humor, it’s not destined to last and the end of the volume tears through the cast with as much blood-soaked violence and emotional trauma as the volume opened with. Kuro and Keita are caught off-guard by Aragi and his partner and suddenly they’re in the fight for their lives they thought they’d at least have more time to prepare for. And it’s not pretty. What it is at least is a great show of the writer and artist’s combined ability to make a scene poignant and effectively scary – it’s near impossible not to feel white-knuckled at watching Keita and Kuro get beat down, driven to begging and even contemplating suicide to get away from the tortures in their future at their enemies’ hands.
Suffice to say, this book has some intense moments and it’s favoured well by a wise decision to put some more light-hearted content in the middle of the book to keep it from being an entirely down, dirty and depressing experience. With a focus on the intensity of individual scenes however, this eleventh volume of Black God does successfully feel more engaging than it has in some time. There isn’t an over abundance of plot here to bog things down, just the characters we’ve come to know getting the snot beat out of them and us watching eagerly for them to somehow get out of it. It’s been a while since a Black God cliffhanger has left me hanging but here it successfully does just that. Fight on, Kuro!