HomeComics/MangaMANGA REVIEW | "Gokurakugai" - Volume One

MANGA REVIEW | "Gokurakugai" - Volume One

MANGA REVIEW | "Gokurakugai" - Volume One

Whenever I roam around Tokyo with a hungry stomach, I have a choice I can make. Sometimes, I go for a katsudon or okonomiyaki, something fancy and filled with many flavors. Other times, I just bite the bullet and head to a McDonald’s or Wendy’s, since the food is tasty, fast, and cheap. When reading Yuto Sano’s Gokurakugai, I can’t help feel like I’m experiencing the latter of my hunger choices. Both look good and have some taste, but there’s an emptiness that comes with experiencing what they have to offer.

Gokurakugai follows Alma and Tao, two partners who take on unique missions. They specialize in what they call “troubleshooting cases”, which is code for killing demons that come from resurrected flash. While Tao is a master of the gun, Alma uses a unique blade that comes from his body. And when he’s in killing mode, any demon — known here as a Maga — is bound to lose its head in the process.

The first three chapters don’t have much to connect with one another, other than the Magas that appear throughout them. You have a boy looking for his Beastman friend, a teen still grieving over the murder of his grandfather, and mysterious murders where victims are hung like Christmas ornaments around town. While it’s hinted that the Magas have something to do with Alma’s powers, nothing is really revealed at this point. For now, the focus is on these two “troubleshooting case” workers and their daily lives.

A first chapter should be where the world of a series is built. However, with the exception of the Magas and the appearance of Beastmen, there’s nothing here in this first volume of Gokurakugai that sets this world apart. Are we dealing with our own Earth, or is this an alternate timeline or universe that this series takes place in? Because nothing really is explained much, this series starts off with way too many questions and not enough answers.

Since this is Sano’s first publication to get syndicated, there’s a lot of wrinkles in the story that need to be smoothed out. There is a good camaraderie between Alma and Tao, and it’s clear that they care about each other. But the lack of backstory currently will make any reader wonder how they met, why they work together, and what exactly they see in one another. For now, it feels like you could fit any two cookie cutter characters into it, and you’d get the same story.

Although the narrative is currently weak, the action is a whole different story. Whether it’s watching Tao blast away Magas with her pistols or Alma slicing them in half, the art here is very impressive. It never holds back on the gore factor, allowing readers to eat up every intestine and slurp up every drop of blood that’s on these pages. Granted, it doesn’t go hardcore like Chainsaw Man, but it does have a dang good kill count.

However, if I were to compare Gokurakugai to a food product, it’d be a Big Mac. Its first volume is tasty and kind of filling, but it lacks a certain substance. While Sano draws some impressive action sequences, his writing often feels subpar. Maybe when the second volume drops, more about this world will be revealed. For now, Volume One of Gokurakugai looks cool, but its story could’ve been more succulent.


Promotional consideration provided by Chantelle Sturt of VIZ Media.

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The J-POP king of America, Evan has been bringing the hottest sounds of the Land of the Rising Sun to the English-speaking public since his college radio days. He's also an expert in the gaming, anime, & manga realms, never afraid to get critical when the times call for it. Born & bred in Boston, he achieved his biggest dream yet by making the big move to Tokyo, Japan in Summer 2023! For personal inquiries, contact Evan at evan@b3crew.com. For press/band inquiries, write to us at thebastards@bostonbastardbrigade.com. (Drawing by AFLM of Wicked Anime)