Because seeing a geriatric cyborg badass is kinda cathartic in a way. Inuyashiki is the latest manga from Hiroya Oku, the guy who created Gantz, a manga about people who are transported to a room with a giant black ball in it when they die so they can fight aliens with crazy future-tech weaponry. So, yeah, it’s got some weird stuff in it.
What It’s About
The story follows the father of a nuclear family, Inuyashiki (first name unknown, or “Fnu“), who is your average businessman nobody. He’s getting old, his family doesn’t respect him, and he’s invisible to the world. After buying a new house and moving in with his family, Inuyashiki is given notice from his physical to return for more tests, whereupon he learns that he has terminal stomach cancer. Faced with his oncoming certain death, Inuyashiki is forced to reexamine his life, afraid to tell his family as the world continues to spit on him, and if any of this sounds familiar, yeah I think Oku watched Breaking Bad, too.
Where Walter White turned to making meth, Inuyashiki’s story takes a sudden sharp turn one night when he is caught in a mysterious explosion. After awaking, he realises that something is different. His glasses don’t have any lenses any more, X-rays of his torso show up blank, doctors can’t give him shots because needles won’t pierce his skin, and his cell phone is an empty plastic replica.
Inuyashiki soon discovers he is no longer himself. Quite literally. Someone or something has replaced his body with a robotic replica while leaving his mind the same. Examining the extent of the change leads him to uncover Superman-like abilities that lead him to decide to use his second chance at life to save others.
Unfortunately, Inuyashiki wasn’t the only person who was caught in the mysterious explosion.
Inuyashiki follows very much the template that author Hiroya Oku set down with Gantz: Average everyday protagonist finds themselves in a strange and outlandish situation where they slowly learn the ropes and get a hold of the new tools and rules they have been given. It’s a formula that works, so really, nothing’s changed in that department. The only real change is the character and the situation, both of which are interesting.
Inuyashiki is a very sympathetic character; someone who has struggled and achieved mediocrity in a harsh world that looks down upon him and ridicules him. His own family is embarrassed by his existence and treats him as a convenient annoyance while being almost wilfully ignorant to his own needs, all the more which adds to the cathartic nature of seeing him become a cybernetic badass. It’s really quite satisfying to see a frail little old man taking down thugs and criminals. Although there was one incident where he stops a bunch of young hooligans who are torturing a homeless man by taking videos of their wrongdoings and uploading them, along with their personal information, to the internet where they are pretty much crucified by the public, which seemed kind of topical, yet strange.
The manga offers entertaining action and plot developments, all while keeping a lingering air of mystery as to exactly what is going on — although some sequences are painfully long, taking multiple pages, and even entire chapters for a single action sequence to play out, just like… Oh, I’ll just come out and say it. It’s Gantz. It’s Gantz with a fresh coat of paint.
Take Gantz, add the premise of Breaking Bad, and you’ve got Inuyashiki. It’s not overly groundbreaking, but it’s still a fun ride nonetheless. If you liked Gantz, you’ll probably enjoy Inuyashiki.
The series is ongoing and only on its third volume, so if it does go the way of Gantz and starts diving into the deep end of the pool (four-eyed, alien Danny Trejo, anyone?), there’s still a while to go.
Manga Title: Inuyashiki
Author: Hiroya Oku
Note: The first chapter can be read online for free here. (Japanese only)