GANGSTA. Volume One is a manga by Kohske, and it was published in North America by VIZ Manga’s VIZ Signature imprint in 2014. The series is rated “M” for mature readers; after reading this volume, I would agree with this rating.
GANGSTA. Volume 1
Written by: Kohske
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: February 18, 2014
GANGSTA.. is set in the city of Ergastulum, which is a shady placed filled with all sorts of criminals, cops that aren’t on the up-and-up, as well as “women of the night.” The series focuses on two “Handymen” named Nic and Worick, who take on the jobs that no one else wants to touch. Nic is deaf, but he’s very adept at reading lips and taking down enemies with his swords; he’s also a Twilight, which appears to give him extraordinary strength. Worick works as a gigolo on the side. As we learn in the volume, they have an interesting backstory as to how these two ended up teaming up together.
At the beginning of Volume One, a cop on the force asks for their help to take down a gang muscling in on the territory of one of the top Mafia families. In the process of taking on this job, Nic and Worick end up taking in Alex, a prostitute working for the gang that Nic and Worick have to take down.
This volume also introduces Nina, a 12-year-old nurse who works for Doctor Theo, a doctor that Nic and Worick know in Ergastulum. They’re called upon to help the doctor out with an issue he’s having with a gang. At the end of the volume, we learn there’s a Twilight who’s very sick that Nic seems to care about.
Over the course of this volume, Alex tries to get closer to both Worick and Nic. Getting to know Worick is rather easy, but Nic is a harder shell to crack. We see Alex getting a book on sign language and trying to learn how to communicate with Nic.
With the “M” rating and from reading the description for the volume, I assumed that this was going to be a gritty manga. There’s definitely mature themes and content in this volume, but it turns out the story isn’t nearly as gritty as I had imagined; in fact, the volume was more light-hearted in tone than I had anticipated.
By the end of the volume, I came to care about Worick, Nic, and Alex as characters. I have to admit that when I went into this volume, I hadn’t anticipated that I would like it as much as I did.
And for an “M” rated manga, I was actually surprised to not see any real blatant nudity in the volume. The few times there would have been frontal nudity in the art, there are stars covering where nipples would appear. At the end of the volume, I read the “About the Author” page and was surprised to discover that Kohske is a woman. I don’t know if the author’s gender may have played a role as to why nudity is only hinted at in this volume or not, but it could be possible. The “M” rating appears to cover the themes and adult content that does appear, as well as the violence aspect of the series.
Volume One sets up a strong story and does a great job at establishing the main characters and getting the reader interested in them by the end of the volume. As a reader, I also found myself riveted by the story that takes place in this volume, and it hooked me enough that I’d be interested in reading future volumes of the series if I come across them in the future.
I wrote this review after reading a copy of GANGSTA. Volume One that I checked out through the King County Library System.