MANGA REVIEW | "Sakamoto Days" - Volume Nine
Badass fights? Check. Cool one-liners? Check. Wild disguises? Double check. A guy hoping to live out some shonen manga high school fantasy, only to be disappointed that he’s tougher than any bully? Oh yeah, Volume Nine of Sakamoto Days has you covered!
Continuing where the last volume left off, Taro and Shin are finishing things off with the JCC exam. Asking Shin to protect the other competitors, Taro goes one-on-one with Gaku, who is controlling a student via VR tech. And nothing is held back when they cross fists!
I can’t think of any action movie or comic in the past where a downed plane is used not as a scene, but as a weapon! Sakamoto Days delivers one of the coolest sequences in the manga yet when Taro and Gaku battle it out. Seats, parachutes, wings, and even freaking passports are used as bludgeoning devices, as the fight keeps shifting to higher gears. (If this ever gets an anime adaptation, this scene will be a huge highlight!)
Alas, not everything goes as planned, as Taro winds up failing the exam. But Nagumo’s got an idea that the top-tier assassin…isn’t too keen on. With a little makeup and some Hollywood-leveled prosthetics, Taro winds up looking like his beloved Aoi, as he infiltrates assassination school as a substitute teacher. Shin, on the other hand, doesn’t have to go such ridiculous lengths to get in.
With only 24 hours for the disguise to work, Taro needs to work fast. Thankfully, even in a wild disguise, he still wallops every task handed to him like it’s nothing. However, Taro is taken aback by the attitude of the students, especially with their hatred towards the JAA. Even worse is the thing these assassins-to-be are currently idolizing: the very organization that’s trying to kill Taro!
It’s a neat little twist in Sakamoto Days, as it does mirror the goings-on in the real world. When the powers that are supposed to protect us do more harm than good, then something deemed a greater evil sounds more appealing. However, as these students don’t know — but what Taro and Shin definitely know — is that a greater evil is just that, and would stomp out their own mother if it meant achieving their goals. As Huey Lewis once sang, “Sometimes, bad is bad.”
As for Shin, it’s humorous seeing how well he fits into the school life. Even though his dreams of living some wacky bully-filled manga series are destroyed in an instant, he still has some fun with the other students. Even Akira somehow finds a place in this scary school, even if she’s not a cut above the rest of her pupils. (Perhaps she’ll find a way to grow in her new surroundings.)
But it’s Nagumo, Osagari, and Shishiba who end the volume off with a killer car chase shootout. The techniques of this trio are on the same level as a hero in a John Woo flick, with just a sprinkle of Edgar Wright-like humor for good measure. There’s a solid body count, some unique kills, and an incoming target who’s about to give them something to work towards. Just when you think you’re getting a breather from the action, another fight is waiting in the shadows.
A flawless ninth volume brings Sakamoto Days closer to getting to X. There’s top-tier action, great humor, and plenty of reasons to love the heroes and hate the villains. Taro may be a sucky student, but at least he shows why he makes a killer teacher, both in skill and (unintentionally) the looks department. But for the sake of his sanity, one hopes he can get this mission over with sooner rather than late!
Promotional consideration provided by Chantelle Sturt of VIZ Media.