This is the start of a new series and it really hits the ground running. Ryuko is action and adventure all the way. A feisty heroin, in fact a cast of feisty women kicking ass in a brutal male world. This is a world of pain, not of Ryuko’s making but she is determined to leave her mark. They’re messing with the wrong girl here – fortunately for us enough of them don’t realise that. Let the fun and games begin:

Forossyah is a prosperous state on the Black Sea but King Jibril is about to fall to a military coup. It’s the first of a number of betrayals at the heart of the story and sets the tone. In his desperation, and as a last resort, the king turns to Ryuko, daughter of his Yakuza ally for help. He asks her to save his only child, Valer, the girl is a babe in arms. Ryuko keeps the knowledge of the child from father, her own project. Eighteen years later Valer and her friend Sasori are part of Ryuko’s gang. Sasori pulls off a train robbery for Ryuko but she is looking to steal the money for herself. Unfortunately for her, Ryuko is wise to it, she catches Sasori. The question is what to do with her and how will Valer react, will her loyalty to her friend be a concern? What Ryuko doesn’t know as she ponders Sasori’s punishment is that General Rashid, the military leader, finally thinks Ryuko has gone too far (he’s no longer happy with his cut). He has decided to take Ryuko’s gang down, a bloody battle ensues. Sasori and Valer stick by Ryuko and they flee to Japan. There is a big shock for Ryuko when she discovered that the mother she thought was dead is very much alive. Now everything she thought she knows about her father was wrong, he lied to her. It’s not long before a hunt for her mother lands Ryuko in hot water and Valer has her own destiny to discover. Ryuko is looking for revenge, the odds against her are high but she will do anything to find her mother.

The story entails Russian assassins, the Afghan war, Chinese triads, Yakuza, revolution, a mysterious box, and the past haunts all the major characters in the story. By the end of this volume Part II is set up. Sexy, stark, gritty drawings accompany a decent story. This is pure theatre; operatic tragedy meets revenger’s tale.

This is only my second outing in manga, it’s pretty hard core, you have to pay attention. Ultimately Ryuko is a lot of fun. This story is going to be one to follow.

Paul Burke 4/4

Ryuko Vol I. by Eldo Yoshimizu
Titan Comics 9781787730946 pbk Jul 2019