I think it’s a bit unfair that manga usually is not considered ‘literature’ when some of it is extremely well done. There is too much of a ‘nerd’ and ‘dork’ attached to it. Also, I have read 23482 manga this fall semester to relieve college stress, so not all of my time should have been wasted, between hyperventilating and laughing like crazy. Two manga especially struck me: Lady Snowblood by Kazuo Koike and Sakura-Gari by Yuu Watase. Lady Snowblood is a tale of a hell’s child, assassin Lady Snowblood, seeking revenge for her mother. Set in the Taisho Era, Sakura-Gari centers around a high schooler studying for college, Tagami Masataka, who finds employment as a servant of the noble Saiki household; the handome son named Souma, the “Angel of Death,” begins to take an interest in innocent Masataka.
If you liked the Kill Bill movies, you will most likely love both of these mangas. Every chapter in Lady Snowblood and Sakura-Gari has at least something to do with death, blood, and gore– some statistics for Sakura-Gari: 7 deaths, 2 completed suicides, 1 attempted suicide, 4 completed murders, and 4 attempted murders. This bloodbath, depicted with amazing swaths of manga artwork, simple and clean lines, and riveting backstories that reveal themselves slowly, is mesmerizing. However, the one problem you may have with these two series is their graphic portrayal of sex. Lady Snowblood is a yuri (involving love between females) and Sakura-Gari is a yaoi (love between males), and I can’t lie– near the end of Sakura-Gari, you begin to feel that the problems are all caused by a male who simply can’t keep his pants zipped. Yet, the badass murder scenes, rapes, and violent sex scenes forcefully bring the theme of abuse to the forefront, and how it can lead even the best intentions and best person awry, and we see these highly contradictory, gripping characters. So cruel, so indifferent to pain, but so heartachingly wretched. Especially within Sakura-Gari, the relationships between characters becomes so complex and the theme of sakura so oppressive that my mind literally babbled afterwards.