While searching for his parent’s murderer, a young detective finds himself between a sword-wielding special police division and demon-controlled human zombies.
Writer/Artist: Tohru Fujisawa
Translated by: Satsuki Yamashita
Adapted by: Zachary Rau
What They Say
Ranmaru Shindo joined the Special Riot Squad to avenge the mysterious death of his parents five years ago - a crime that has gone unsolved. Recently, he has been having recurring dreams of a young woman covered in blood, wielding a giant sword. And when this mysterious woman suddenly appears in front of him as a member of the Special Public Safety Task Force (TOKKO), Ranmaru's dreams suddenly become frightening real...
A violent earthquake hits Tokyo and rumors of a demon-like creature unleashing its superhuman powers upon the city force Ranmaru to begin a journey to uncover the true nature of TOKKO and its strange and sundry members.
The front cover depicts a redhead wearing a police uniform and holding a sword. This is very similar to the original Japanese cover, which has slightly different title text pushed over to the side more, so less of the girl is covered. The original release of this series must have received the star treatment. While the Tokyopop release lacks color pages, the first 30 pages were originally in color. The strange part about this is the higher price point compared to other Tokyopop titles. Tokko: Devil’s Awaken is a dollar more and lacks color pages.
The quality of the printing is up to par, but the text placement in the dialogue bubbles need some work. For some reason, many titles from this publisher suffer from off centered dialogue text. I cannot imagine anything other than laziness accounting for this problem.
Some readers should be familiar with Fujisawa’s art style from GTO and the Rose Hip series, all released by Tokyopop. Many of Fujisawa’s secondary character designs tend to be quite similar between series. All of the characters are well proportioned and the artwork is attractive. Facial expressions fully convey character’s personalities, from the cocky protagonist (a Fujisawa staple) to the bubbly young girl. Backgrounds are highly detailed and action scenes carry a powerful sense of movement. Being a horror title seems to have given Fujisawa free license to gore up large sections of the book. Blood splatters, decapitations, flying brain chunks, all should please the horror fans out there.
The text reads well and honorifics are used, unless characters are addressing equals. SFX inside dialogue bubbles are translated, but not the large SFX. I did already mention this in the Packaging section, but I can’t get over the off centered dialogue text prevalent throughout this volume.
Contents: (Oh yes, there may be spoilers)
Ranmaru Shindo lives in Tokyo with his little sister, Saya. They are both survivors of a mass murder that took place five years earlier, called the Machida Incident. Being the children of a detective, both siblings have followed the path of public service. Ranmaru became a detective and Saya works as a traffic cop. I have to wonder if Ranmaru had always wanted to be like his dad or merely followed that career in hopes of finding out who murdered his parents.
The mystery surrounding the Machida Incident is strange, but even stranger are the current massacres taking place around the city. Many groups of people have been found murdered and ripped apart, often eaten. The new special division Ranmaru just joined is responsible for solving those murders. His first assignment pits his division against strange zombies with small faces on their skin. Unfortunately, not even bullets can repel the zombies. Ranmaru’s fellow officers are cut down one by one until the members of a mysterious police division show up dressed in motorcycle leather and wielding swords. With amazing efficiency, the leather-clad officers destroy the zombies. Things only get weirder when Ranmaru recognizes one of the sword-wielding women as the naked girl from his reoccurring dream.
The woman, Sakura, claims to be another survivor of the Machida Incident, and says she remembers Ranmaru from when they were children. Everything that has just happen would throw anybody for a loop, and Ranmaru is no different. How is he going to sleep after the horrors he has seen? Why is the woman from his dream, someone he has never met, now confronting him face-to-face? Will he be able to survive another day on the job?
It is quite possible Tokyopop did not have access to the original color pages at the start of this first volume. However, if they did, I would have gladly paid an extra $2 for this first volume and 30 color pages. It would have definitely made a mark in the fan base and forced this title to stand out among the plethora of books being published today. All subsequent printings of volume one could be without color pages and at the normal price along with the remaining volumes. To make things even stranger, Tokyopop priced this title at $10.99, which is a $1 more than other Tokyopop titles, plus the lack of color pages. I have to wonder if they did this because it is a Mature title or they believe Fujisawa is incredibly marketable. Is it really more expensive to translate a curse word? At least other publishers provide a larger format for more expensive adult titles.
Fans of the Tokko anime series will already be familiar with the characters and the story in this initial manga volume. Nothing really different takes place in this volume, but hopefully this manga series as a real ending. Unfortunately, the Tokko anime adaptation stopped without any real ending. Leaving me to wonder if the manga series wasn’t finished when the anime ended, or if the manga also ends prematurely. I guess I will just have to wait until all the volumes are released here in the U.S.