Itsuwaribito 1Posted: December 6, 2010
Yuuki Iinuma – Viz – 2010 – 7+ volumes
Oh man, was I ever wrong about my initial impression on this. It looked like a pretty standard Shounen Sunday series, crafty hero tricks people through “lies,” has some sad backstory that causes him to do so.
We are treated to the sad backstory right off the bat (in multiple layers, both sad child and sad teen), but what is interesting is the disturbing moral ambiguity this series portrays. The main character, Utsuho, really is a liar, and does things like throw bombs at bandits, poisons bad people, and a multitude of other things a shounen hero really shouldn’t do, but the bad guys really did deserve it, in a “they slaughtered a village full of orphans” way. He’s a liar, and is on the path to becoming one of the dreaded Itsuwaribito (a person who can lie and steal through all known methods of deception), but he wants to tell “good” lies, and save 1,000 people in place of his mentor when the “truth” can’t.
Since I’ve been reading about One Piece all week, the parallel was inevitably drawn to Luffy since Utsuho is setting out to become what is nominally a bad guy, but is going to do good with the name instead. The similarities pretty much stop there, since Utsuho is really clever and knows how to bluff, double bluff, and bluff again.
Aside from the disturbing lengths the hero goes through to stop people, what’s probably more disturbing are the absolutely ruthless villains he’s doing these things to. One of them snaps the legs of a small, trusting baby animal. Others behead people left and right, and try to behead Utsuho when he sits down to an “honest” match. Others trick old men into thinking they’re well by treating him with opium. Just… wow. They are some bad people. And this is only the first volume! I’m a little worried the author is going to be forced to dial it down before too long, or run out of ruthless actions for the villains to perform.
Utsuho always gets out ahead, though. He is devilishly clever, and good at inventing his own weapons and methods of attacks, too. The story is fun to read because it’s hard to predict what he’ll do next. He doesn’t really get into fights in the traditional sense. The situations between Utsuho and the villains are usually that the villains have weapons and Utsuho fights… well, with a rock, or his index finger, or simple capsules he pulls out of his belt. At one point, he deflects some arrows with his obi, and that’s pretty cool. He’s also got a little bit of an evil streak to him, and while he’s doing the right thing 90% of the time, part of you always wonders if he’s going to snap and do something crazy. He could. He’s the type.
It’s got a super-traditional shounen flavor to it so far, and the sad backstory reeks of cliche, but the weird black tone and the clever main character will have me coming back for more.
This was a review copy provided by Viz.