Manga Review: Blank Slate vol. 1

Blank Slate vol. 1
Story and Art: Aya Kanno
Published by VIZ Media
ISBN-10: 1-4215-1924-0
ISBN-13: 978-1-4215-1924-1

Review by Kris

“He” is the most wanted man in the country. You’re probably wondering who I mean. His name is Zen. Zen is the most violent, soulless, criminal in Amata. He takes no prisoners. He gets what he wants and leaves bloody battle in his wake. After taking the Army General’s daughter and her companion hostage he sustains a nasty injury and is sent to a doctor who treats criminals, terrorist, and so on. This doctor is in a neighboring land that is fighting for freedom from Amata. Dr. Hakka made it his mission to save lives no matter what their status in society is. As soon as Dr. Hakka and the villagers learn that this new patient is the one and only Zen they decide to kick him out because they don’t want the army invading their land.

Dr. Hakka decides to travel with Zen back to Amata to free the terrorists from the Army’s grasp. It seems these two need each other. Zen seems to not have any memory of who or what he is and as soon as the violence starts something inhuman kicks in. Zen wants to figure out what’s going on and Dr. Hakka wants to help him. What is in Zen’s past and is it something that he really wants to know?

I’ve noticed that with VIZ Media titles they often fall in either the Shounen Jump or the Shojo Beat categories. I was curious to see why on earth a story line like that of Blank Slate is classified as a Shojo Beat title. I’m used to the shojo titles to be sweet romances and girly stories. Blank Slate is none of that. It’s violent, bloody, and very intense. Zen is ruthless and has no soul. To me this really seemed like it belonged under the Shounen Jump moniker. The only reason I can see it being classified as a shojo title is the art style. It doesn’t have a shounen manly look to it. The lines, the layouts, and even the characters fit into the shojo style. Despite the violence (I’m not one who is into violent stories – wait a minute what am I talking about I love Yakuza yaoi) and blood I found myself intrigued by the story. Now I really want to know what is in Zen’s past. Was he some type of spy? Who is he really? Is he an android of some kind? I don’t really know. The doctor is also an interesting character. I really want to see how their relationship plays out.

Even though this is an action story the shojo style art made it more enjoyable to me. That probably has to do with the fact that I don’t read a lot of shounen titles. I generally read shojo, josei, and yaoi, so with this art style it made the violence a bit more palatable to me. But yes, the shooting and killing and explosions have their place – we are dealing with terrorists and war here. I am going to recommend this title for the art and the story. They play so well together that it really is an intriguing read and now I’ll have to go pick up the next volume when it is released!