DOGS by Miwa Shirow:
This review is brought to you by Kiyo-chan, much love and thanks you should be giving her.
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– Serialised in Ultra Jump starting 2004
– Number of books: 1
– Not Licensed
STORY: This prolly would have gotten a 10/10 rating if it had been continued. Due to the fact that DOGS has only 1 tankoubon, there are a lot of loose ends. However, each story is so gripping that it really does leave you wanting to know what the heck is going on. Thank god it’s finally getting serialized in Ultra Jump starting sometime this year.
As the first book is pretty much an introduction to the main characters and so there’s no solid base story yet. The storytelling format the Shirow uses is absolutely spectacular, the conversation is witty, entertaining, and his presentation is even better. And it seems like the details you’d usually read right over turn out to mean the most. There’s not much to not like other than, like mentioned before, the loose ends that will hopefully get tied up with the serialization.
It’s not a story recommended for people under 15. There’s a lot of violence, a lot of blood, a lot of cursing, perverted sex references, and disturbing imagery, especially when the people lose their minds. Then again, the whole idea is four people trying to survive in a brutal world where there seem to be no laws and it’s pretty much each man for his own. If you don’t know how to fight, you’re screwed. Much fun, no?
–Mihai: An ex-assassin who retired and disappeared, really, after the woman he loved was murdered by his pupil. He’s a very stable man who always knows exactly what he’s doing…until it comes to shopping for groceries and finding his way home in which case, he’s a mess. Mihai carries a gentle exterior about him and he’s the only one who is seen in any romantic involvement (a change from the norms indeed), but when in battle, he’s as calm as anything, yet ferocious and precise. It’s an art form of killing that has to be admired more than anything else.
–Badou: A one-eyed crazy nicotine-dependant bum who does anything that pays him good money. Badou has no brain as well and he’s always getting into fixes that requires someone else to hurry up and save his arse, but deprive him of his nicotine and he goes all-out ballistic. His fighting skills actually improve as well and so the others constantly steal his cigarettes when they need him to fight. Overall, he’s just a lovable guy who could’ve been degraded to being the lame comic relief guy and most thankfully didn’t.
–Naoto:Called the “blade maiden”, it was an image of this girl that got me into the series. She has got the coolest outfits, an awesome haircut (haha..I think only a girl would notice that) and the most kickarse katana in all manga. And she knows how to use it well. VERY well. There’s a total twist in this one that leaves probably the biggest mystery of all the stories but I’m not saying more that that.
–Magato: A mysterious man, and “companion” to Naoto and her master. He seems to know far more about her past than he lets on, and leaves her with more questions than anything else. He gets mention only due to the way in which he leaves the story. The Blade Maiden is open ended enough, but with the possibility of him showing up later on as well he deserves a nod of look to the serialization.
–Haine Rammsteiner: Haine has the second most loop-hole-y story on my list. Apparently, if my scans are correct, he’s an abandoned genetic experiment with an interesting result that just poses as any other punk drifter in a busy town. (Reviewer’s note: His outfit also looks a lot like Cloud of FFVII’s except it’s a lot savvier and cooler. I’d wear it. )Haine and Badou also seem to have known each other previous to the start of the series and are occasional partners in crime. They’re a great team with Haine’s seriousness contrasting with Badou’s silliness. Haine, in the opposite fashion of Mihai, is soft on the inside and cold on the outside. He hardly ever feels compassion but his entire story is based on when he does. It’s touching to say the least, and rather Frankenstein-ish in that sense. But hey, it’s all good…(Note on his name, the Mangaka’s favorite band is Rammstien, as if you couldnt tell)
–Kiri:The owner of Buon Viaggio, the bar/restaurant that all the main characters go to at some point or other. She’s not really a major character but she’s worth mentioning seeing as to how she helps them all out at some point or other except for Haine. Kiri is one badass chick…actually…she’s pretty much exactly like Haruka from Love Hina…sassy, pretty, carries a gun, tramples over anyone that gets in her way…mad awesome. You must love Kiri…it is the law.(along with No Sneakiness, and You must protect the bar with your life)
-<WEIRD AND MYSTERIOUS PRIEST WHO DOESN’T HAVE A NAME YET>: We don’t know too much about this guy as he shows up only in Haine’s story, but he’s in association with Badou as well, and I get the feeling that he’s going to play a rather large part.. Priest-boy is fun and would be original if Kazuya Minekura hadn’t already had that corrupt boy Sanzo in Saiyuki. The two aren’t too different except Priest-boy isn’t so outspoken. He’s a more sarcastic character – a source of humour and Haine (and probably Badou as well)’s weapons bunker provider. Need to hide hundreds of weapons? Use a church.(It helps when the priest is blind…or so he says)
ARTWORK:The artwork for Dogs is as pretty as a shounen manga can get. It’s about 5 inches from becoming shoujo artwork and it’s really not so pretty in terms of the drawings but from the way the story is presented through the images. In that aspect, the art is nothing short of striking. Shirow is a master of perspective art and you can tell he knows it because it’s all over the place. Every character has at least one picture where they’re totally coming at you. The people are well proportioned and realistic; his lines flow well and the motions of the characters are detailed accurately, which is a good thing, and yea, in short: it’s great stuff. If there is anything to complain about, it’s that Shirow isn’t too spectacular at drawing women…they have strange facial structures, strange proportions, and often leave something to be desired. But that’s only, thankfully, an occasional thing.
Mei-Mei’s thoughts(SPOILERS): I had no idea what to expect when I started this series. I pretty much got into it for the artwork, but I was not expecting a story that was this good. Indeed I thought by the artwork that Haine’s story was going to be really weird and off-standish, but had no idea how deep and rather touching it would be. The ending of Mihai’s story when Ian holds his gun sideways before trying to shoot him just rose up and smacked me in the face. There’s no other manga that’s ever been that subtle before. Had this been any other manga, Mihai would have said something about Ian’s gun’s position. But he said nothing. THAT is art.
There’s not much that I disliked except for the stupid “bad guys” who were too ugly to be liked. But other than that, I don’t think there was a single thing that I just sat and though “ugh” at. Easily, however, the greatest part about this series was that I wasn’t able to determine a favorite character. Usually, this would probably be a sign of lack of uniqueness, but it’s far from that. Rather, I can’t decide because each one is so unique yet similiar. Get my drift? Go read this series. I can’t wait for the serialization to start so we can figure out where everything is going.
NOTE: Scanslations of the manga, since they are quite rare, can be found here.
By Darknight ZO