ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘RYUKO,’ Volume 2

Reading Time: 3 minutes

RYUKO Vol 2

Titan Comic’s Hard Case Crime presents RYUKO Vol 2 the crime thriller manga written and illustrated Eldo Yoshimizu that pays homage to gangster cinema. Part two of the two-part series brings the story to an exciting conclusion. As the covert war rages on in Japan’s criminal underworld, Ryuko, the motorcycle-riding Yakuza princess, discovers the truth behind her mother’s disappearance. Meanwhile, a familiar face from her complicated past comes back into her life. Now, together with her brutal gang of loyal members, they prepare to face off against Situ Zi, the merciless female assassin and deadly leader of a sinister Chinese crime gang.

One of my favorite things about this manga is that the characters have layers, especially when it comes to the title-character, Ryuko. For example, when first introduced to Ryuko, she comes off as this domineering and merciless Yakuza boss who murdered her father for power and felt no remorse for taking his life. However, as the series goes on, we learn that there is more to Ryuko than that.

She was forced to save her father to save the life of another that she had vowed to protect. After his death, she took up his role as the gang leader, not for the power, but because she felt it was her responsibility and owed it to her family. When her childhood friend, Harim, reassures her that she doesn’t have to carry that guilt and responsibility anymore. She finally lets the facade of the ruthless crime boss fall, and we see a softer, more fragile side to her. 

[RYUKO Vol 2 Harim and Ryuko]

Something else that I appreciated about RYUKO Vol. 2  was the use of the found family trope. Found family or a family of choice, as it is also known, is a trope typically associated with ensembles or team-based canons. That involves two or more people choosing to treat one another as a family in an emotional sense.

In Volume 2, we see this several times with Ryuko and her gang members, but one of my favorite examples of this is when they are sitting down for dinner together. In this scene, we see that there’s more to their relationships than just loyalty and obedience to Ryuko as their crime boss. There is also a shared familial bond and love amongst all of them. I think this is important because most of these characters have no other blood relatives or have been alone throughout their lives. It means something that they have found a family amongst one another.

[Ryuko and gang have family dinner in RYUKO Vol 2]

In closing, Ryuko Vol 2 does a phenomenal job of finishing out the series. Yoshimizu’s art style continues to be in a league of its own that brought something truly special to this story.  The layered characters and the intricate, fast-paced story keeps you entertained with every twist and turn.

In the end, I have to admit I feel a little bittersweet that this story over, but at the same time, I applaud it for having been so well done. This crime thriller manga captivated my attention from the very beginning in volume 1 with both the unique art style and the story that explored the complexities of morality. 

Ryuko Vol 2 is available October 15, 2019.

RYUKO, Volume 2
5

TL;DR

In the end, I have to admit I feel a little bittersweet that this story over, but at the same time, I applaud it for having been so well done. This crime thriller manga captivated my attention from the very beginning in volume 1 with both the unique art style and the story that explored the complexities of morality.