A stylish shoot-em up thriller with great art and a mysterious underlying connection between four people trying to vindicate past wrongs.
Writer/Artist: Shirow Miwa
Translation: Alexis Kirsch
Adaptation: Alexis Kirsch
What They Say
Boasting furious action, switchback plotting, magnetic characters and dazzling art, Dogs tells the story of four individuals struggling to survive a dystopian urban future by gun and sword and courage and luck.
Haine, the "Stray Dog": a cipher of a young man with a mysterious metal collar bolted to his neck and a disturbing talent for mayhem. Badou: a hired gun for petty jobs legal and non, whose reckless façade hides a serious intent. Naoto: a preternaturally skilled swordswoman searching for the assassin who cut down her family and mentor. Mihai: a middle-aged former hitman, trying live a quiet life but haunted by the deaths of his lover and protégé. Driven by their ghosts both dead and alive and a desire for truth, all are inexorably drawn to the Underground, the dark and dangerous sector below the city that holds all the secrets but secrets that can only be had for a price.
Viz put out a slick book with this first volume of ‘Dogs’. While expensive, compared to most Viz titles, the A5 size, metallic title on the front cover, and fold out color poster make this book stand out in the manga crowd. The print quality is good with clean pages and solid blacks. Extras include an afterword from the author, a description of character names and guns, and information about the author.
Miwa’s art is very attractive. Backgrounds are sparse, but that lends to an overall sense of cleanliness as the art lacks unnecessary lines. Characters are well proportioned with attractive women and muscular men with lithe bodies. Facial expressions add to the character’s personality by projecting their opinions of the world. Action scenes have a lot of thought behind them with fantastic choreography and enough detail to lend a cinema graphic sensation.
The translation read well and lacked misspellings or grammar problems. Honorifics are not present and for this type of story, they shouldn’t be. The ‘Dogs’ world takes place in a multi-cultural setting in an unknown country. The original Japanese SFX are removed and replaced with only English SFX attempting to mimic the artistic style of the original. This isn’t my preference; I like leaving the original SFX alone and adding smaller-sized translations alongside.
Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Mihai has returned home, a broken home he had hoped to forget. As a trained assassin, he had been in direct employ of the mafia and had the important job of training the Don’s son. The situation created an interesting relationship, as Mihai became the kid’s only father figure. But when jealousy for Mihai’s attention overwhelmed the boy, he killed Mihai’s lover.
Now after all these years, the young boy has become a man and killed his father for control of the mafia. A woman friend of Mihai’s lover, Kiri, sent him news and thus drew Mihai into the underworld he had abandoned. What will Mihai do now that he is back? Take revenge for the death of his lover, the death of the Don, or perhaps offer himself for employment?
Badou is a smartass information broker with a sick nicotine addiction and a strange amount of good luck, usually. He isn’t so lucky when he stumbles upon the scene of a mob leader getting some S&M treatment from a young guy. Badou is lucky that he took a photo of the scene, unlucky in that he was caught in the act. His fleeing leads him into Kiri’s bar with the gangsters hot on his heels. Kiri and Mihai want nothing to do with the situation, so it takes a nicotine rage for Badou to attempt to save his ass.
The connection between Heine and Badou is mysterious, but Heine seems to have had a similar run in with the mysterious entity known as Kerberos. Luck may not be Heine’s gift, but the strange implant on his neck seems to make him invincible. This is going to come in handy when he attempts to protect a cute mute girl with genetically engineered angel wings from the mafia. They don’t like having their unique prostitute taken away from them without compensation.
Naoto is the truly tragic character. As a young girl, her parents were slaughtered protecting her from a sword-wielding assassin. When the assassin realized Naoto had survived the ‘X’ shaped sword wound on her chest, he took her in and trained her in blade fighting. The chance to kill the man who took everything from her is the one thing that keeps her alive. But will killing him deliver what she desires so desperately?
‘Dogs’ is an exciting addition to my library. The art is terrific, the story is interesting, and the in your face action reminds me of ‘Black Lagoon’. All this, the anti-hero characters, and Naoto’s tragic life all leave me craving more. The underlying theme of revenge is nothing new, but following four different characters in their quests that might ultimately lead them all to the same destination is cool. I am not only curious to see how all the characters might come together, but Badou and Heine’s strange scars and implants still hold strange powers. That and the angel-winged girl are just so sad and intriguing that I want to protect her as badly as Heine does.
This book’s afterward explains why this is volume 0. Miwa had originally written the story covered in this prelude volume sometime earlier and then never pursued it. After a number of years the opportunity came to resurrect ‘Dogs’, so this first part of the story was re-written and polished up as an introduction to the ‘Dogs’ series. It will take a few volumes to see if the series can live up to the exciting first volume, but I look forward to finding out if it can.