Not yet fifteen years old, Youkou has devoted himself to caring for his wheelchair-bound sister, Mirai. He is a young man with high ideals and few qualms about calling out those who fail to live up to them. Although he’s the sort of person who will offer violence to a litterer, it can’t be denied that Youkou’s heart is in the right place—regardless of wherever his head might be.
Thankfully, the latest genetic engineering innovations by the Amenotori Company have promised a new life for the siblings, as well as millions of other people. Mirai has not only gained a pair of functioning legs, but a newfound sense of freedom and a fondness for cooking. In fact, she’s determined to whip up one heck of a banquet for her brother’s birthday!
Unfortunately, the process has a minor side effect: some who undergo treatment at the Amenotori Company shapeshift into horrific monsters with disfigured limbs and cartoon animal masks. Mirai is among the infected, as Youkou tragically discovers when she tries to kill him!
Enter the Jackalopes: a unique squad of cyborg mercenaries dedicated to destroying the menace posed by the “Spiders” created by the Amenotori Company. They are quick to step in after Mirai’s transformation, but are unprepared when Youkou throws himself in front of a shot meant for his sister. Now, with his injuries healed by the Jackalopes’ medic and three cybernetic limbs of his own, Youkou must decide if he will join them in their crusade or try to live a normal life.
Smokin’ Parade is one of the messiest manga I’ve ever read. I don’t just mean that in terms of gore, though it is quite a bloody book, but in terms of story flow and presentation. Given sufficient panel size, artist Kazuma Kondou’s artwork can look good, but unfortunately, most of the story seems fenced-in by the small panels utilized and there’s very few full splash pages. This results in multiple pages where the extensive line work serves to obscure the action, rather than enhance it.
The story by Jinsei Kataoka is not much clearer. It seems like most of the dialogue is set in the smaller panels, further obscuring the action. Apart from Youkou and Mirai, the characters are complete cyphers. While this does drive home how isolated and alone Youkou feels after being taken in by the Jackalopes, it is still a poor foundation for the series to come. Indeed, the fourth chapter—in which a reporter runs through her notes on the Spiders and the Jackalopes—seems to exist purely because the first three chapters do such a poor job setting up the series’ concept.
Smokin’ Parade, vol. 1 is rated M for language, nudity, and violence. I consider this to be a fair rating and a fair warning. This first volume features multiple uses of the f-word, bare breasts with a hint of pubic hair, and adult situations, along with enough disturbing scenes of medical horror and people being shot or sliced apart to make Quentin Tarantino say, “This is a little over the top.”
Smokin’ Parade, vol. 1
by Jinsei Kataoka
Art by Kazuma Kondou
Yen Press, 2017
Publisher Age Rating: M (18+)