MANGA REVIEW | "Sakamoto Days" - Vols. 4 & 5
No matter where Taro Sakamoto goes, trouble follows. From amusement parks to museums, our Sakamoto Days hero can’t catch a breather. Thankfully, he’s got plenty of skills to take on any deadly situation, not to mention a crew of capable clerks with their own license to kill. In Volume Four, the past of one of Sakamoto’s mates gets rectified, while another is ready to sever the ties of hers.
Continuing where Volume Three left off, Sakamoto and Shin infiltrate a lab where Lu is being held captive. As all of this is going on, the Order is on a mission themselves to find the elusive X, whose underling Kashima may make it harder for them to get some answers. As Sakamoto faces off against Kashima, Shin’s got an enemy who makes it hard to see where he’s going. Thankfully, a certain assassin and his birdie offers some much-needed assistance.
There’s a fantastic balance of humor and action on display during Sakamoto’s fight with Kashima. Our tubby hero MacGyvers his way towards victory, using a sales sticker and mechanical pencil to keep Kashima on his toes. However, it’s when Sakamoto sheds the body fat when Kashima sees what kind of trouble he’s really in for. It leads to an epic fight on a train, albeit one that doesn’t seem to bother the elderly passengers close by.
It’s when Shin battles with Seba where things get tricky in Sakamoto Days. The invisible assassin seems to have the upper hand for most of the battle, as Shin finds it difficult to match with him even with his mind-reading skills. Mashimo’s appearance offers Shin a chance to one-up Seba, using a bit of blood and some water to help even out the score. However, as Mashimo’s thought process equates to an ADHD-riddled corgi’s, figuring out the plan is quite the challenge for Shin.
After the lab situation, Sakamoto and Shin take a much-needed trip to a public bathhouse. Per usual, another assassin awaits, as he cranks up the onsen power to maximum levels. Shin gets severely burnt; Sakamoto gets comfy! But even Sakamoto starts sweating bullets when it comes time for him and his wife’s anniversary, with a boat cruise that ends with a hilariously high body count!
But Lu has a bit of trouble when Triad member Wutang (no, not THAT Wu Tang!) comes to collect her home. Although Sakamoto’s got weaponry skills, Wutang uses another means to fight to win back Lu. And despite Shin’s mental skills, it doesn’t quite help that he doesn’t know the rules! (At least he and Sakamoto have gotten some new fancy suits for the occasion!)
Fortunately, they have other skills that can help with winning, as Volume Five of Sakamoto Days shows. Sakamoto and Shin using their mind and weapons skills to better their chances at the tables. However, it’s when a tie-breaking game of Old Maid(?) between them and Wutang where their strengths are greatly shown. But Wutang’s got an extra mind skill, of his own that puts Shin out in a humorous fashion.
As the game nears the end, mutiny is in the air. And it takes Lu’s kind words from back when they were kids for Wutang to gain the upper hand against his former allies. There’s no time to rest for Sakamoto and his family, with Wutang warning of four death row inmates out looking for a kill thrill. What follows is a showcase of not just these newcomers’ horrifying skills, but a demonstration of what Shin and Lu can do when backed into a corner.
Their battle with Saw is where Sakamoto Days reaches a new level of crazy. On top of their violent skills, the kind of mind games the three are able to pull of reach a new level of dangerous intelligence. It’s all thanks to a new skill Shin learned, one that can be considered a way of reading the future. But when Lu drinks pure ethanol, well, she delivers an insane combat style that words can’t even begin to describe!
Meanwhile, Dump’s fight with Order member Osaragi showcases why the organization is made up of the best assassins. What starts as an attempt on Osaragi’s life explodes into a frightening battle display. Shrines crumble, Buddha heads get decapitated, and hands get impaled. But no sight in this volume will wow its readers quite like the final battle moments, as a foray of shrine gates act as a backdrop to one jaw-dropping kill!
Even when the titular character’s not around, Sakamoto Days finds ways to keep things exciting. Where Volume Four puts Shin’s past to bed, Volume Five hits the gas hard towards some phenomenal fights. There can be some dry areas in the latter volume, but they’re made up in the end with a big level of violent velocity. With those death row inmates still loose in Japan, Sakamoto Days may find itself in a very scary situation. Well...scary for the baddies, not so much for Sakamoto!
VOL. 4 RATING:
VOL. 5 RATING:
Promotional consideration provided by Chantelle Sturt of VIZ Media