Author: Naoki Urasawa
Publisher: Viz Media
American release date: October 20, 2009
Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/manga/paranormal/216 pages
Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★
Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes
Business is way down at the tiny restaurant where Kanna works, thanks to the tight security surrounding the Papal visit to Japan. A young detective named Chono stops by and Kanna, who hates the cops, bites his head off. But he is there on official business, looking for a drag queen named Britney. Once the detective leaves, Kanna’s boss sends her to look for Britney, as she owes him money. It turns out that Britney saw something she shouldn’t, ie a murder, and that is why she is being sought, as a witness. Kanna and Mariah persuade Britney to go to the police station to turn herself in, but while waiting in line, she recognizes the killer… and he’s a cop!
Detective Chono Shohei is the grandson of a legendary detective, and he wants to be the policeman his grandfather was, to be called Cho-san too. But so far, that isn’t happening. Cho is also rather gullible. When he goes to Britney’s home, he catches Kanna coming out and confronts her. Kanna tells him that she knows Britney witnessed a cop killing someone, and she describes the cop before fleeing the scene. Cho can’t believe his ears. That can’t be true, can it?
Meanwhile, new prisoners are being taken to the island prison of Umihotaru. The bridge to the island was destroyed fourteen years before, as was the tunnel, so there is no way off this hellish place. Kakuta has been sent there, his only crime being he’s a manga artist. His new roommate scares him with stories of this place, and the last roommate who died in the bed that now belongs to Kakuta. Also, there is talk of the Monster, a man who has been in this place for fourteen years, and is housed in the Punishment Block. Supposedly he is more monster than human, and is kept chained at all times. Unfortunately for Kakuta, he is caught with the pencil his roommate loaned him to draw with and he is sent to the Punishment Block!
Kakuta is in a terrible pickle with the guards in the Punishment Block and they are about to hurt him when the Monster intervenes and saves him from a terrible fate. He begins to talk to the man and learns he is not what they make him out to be at all. And he plans to escape this place. Meanwhile, Kanna is frustrated, hiding out with Britney and Mariah to keep them safe. She pens a letter to her uncle, who is in Umihotaru Prison, knowing it will never reach him. But she badly wants his advice.
In this volume, we learn the awful truth of what is referred to as Bloody New Year’s Eve. Up until now, we assumed that Kenji and his friends were victorious, saved the world and rid it of the evil Friend. Quite the contrary. Something else happened, the Friends emerged on top and Kenji and the others are nowhere to be seen. The only one I know the whereabouts of is the one in the prison. I have to admit I am very anxious about Kenji and will be very upset if something bad has happened to him.
Kanna is every bit her uncle’s niece, with a strong sense of right and wrong. Completely suspicious of the young detective, I think with time she will come to trust him, and perhaps more. He needs to lose some of his naivete, and I think that will happen. Unfortunately, not in time to save someone he inadvertently puts in danger.
A lot going on in this volume, what with Kanna trying to save her friends, and with the escape from the prison in order to continue the fight begun so many years ago. Mixed in with all that is the visit of the Pope, and a plot to assassinate him. So many questions, so much I want to know. And there is also an appearance by an old friend of Kenji, who has become unexpectedly successful thanks to a particular gift he has, the same gift which told him of the importance of Kenji to the world.
Great volume, can’t wait for the next one!