Sakamoto Days Volume One introduces the reader to Taro Sakamoto, a once legendary hit man who fell in love and retired from the assassin life. He’s since put on a bit of weight and is now the owner of a neighborhood store. Unfortunately for Sakamoto, he violated the rules of the organization when he left, and his former life is about to catch up to him.
Sakamoto Days Volume One
Written by: Yuto Suzuki
Publisher: Shueisha, Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: April 5, 2022
At the beginning of Volume One, we are introduced to Shin, a clairvoyant hit man who used to work alongside Sakamoto. He’s been given the mission of convincing Sakamoto to come back to the organization or to assassinate him. After seeing how important Sakamoto is to his community, Shin tries to plead for the organization to spare Sakamoto’s life. However, after Sakamoto comes to the rescue and saves Shin as he’s about to be killed by the organization, Shin decides that he will work alongside Sakamoto at the neighborhood store.
When Shin was first introduced in this volume, I almost literally did a double take when I first saw him, because his facial design bears a striking resemblance to Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist. Whenever Shin appeared, I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t Ed that I was seeing.
As the volume progresses, Sakamoto and Shin find themselves either trying to save others while in disguise or being targeted by the organization that they left. Shin’s clairvoyance comes in handy, because this allows the two of them to communicate with each other in order to accomplish whatever task it is that they’re doing without alerting who they’re up against what their plan is. Shin can also use his ability to pinpoint where people sent to assassinate them are.
Things are kicked up a notch when Sakamoto and Shin have to disguise themselves in order to save a bus that Sakamoto’s wife is on from hijackers. Someone manages to get a picture of Sakamoto (wearing a mask) when he saves the bus. This catches a lot of people’s attention, and now people are wondering who this masked hero is. A new police recruit who grew up in the neighborhood is looking for the masked man, but not to thank him. Instead, she wants to arrest him for using violence to save the people on the bus. Never mind that there were no casualties or any major injuries. I expect this police recruit will appear again in later volumes of the series and serve as a thorn in Sakamoto’s side.
Near the end of the volume, another character is introduced: Lu Xiaotang. Sakamoto and Shin encounter her in Niikita Chinatown while out running an errand. It turns out she’s being pursued by a couple of thugs who are trying to get a key she has that goes to her family’s treasure. Sakamoto and Shin save her, and they end up being targeted by a couple of assassins that are sent to take down Lu. After this adventure, Lu also begins working at the neighborhood shop. However, it’s established rather quickly that Shin and Lu don’t really get along with each other, and that Lu can be lazy when it comes to the job. I can’t really comment too much on this yet, since Lu starts working at the neighborhood store so late in the volume. Hopefully future volumes will allow the reader to get to know Lu better, as well as to expand on interactions between Shin and Lu.
Right near the end of the volume, it’s revealed that there’s a price of a billion yen on Sakamoto’s head, and that assassins are going to be coming out of the woodwork to try to take him down and collect the money. I expect that this will be a running thread throughout future volumes of Sakamoto Days.
One of the things I liked about the setup in this volume is how Sakamoto’s wife has made it clear to him that he is not allowed to kill anyone else ever again. If he does, she’ll file for divorce. Even though Sakamoto may have put on a bit of weight since leaving the assassination business, he still has his assassin reflexes, and he has to make sure to hold back so as not to kill anyone. There are other rules his wife has laid down, but we really haven’t been exposed to those yet. I really appreciated the flashback scene that was provided in this volume to show how Sakamoto’s then-girlfriend (now wife) demonstrated why she wants to create this rule in their relationship. It should be pointed out that after Shin starts working at the neighborhood store, that he’s expected to follow the same rules that Sakamoto does.
I also find it interesting to note that in a couple of the fight sequences, we see Sakamoto temporarily revert back to his original figure. Unfortunately, this doesn’t last long, and as soon as Sakamoto eats again, he gains all the weight back. This was done as a gag for this volume, but I would really like to get an explanation of how this works. And will we see this happen again in future volumes, or was this just a one-off gag?
When it comes to the art, I thought that each character has a distinct look from each other. However, I do have to take off some points for the fact that Shin’s facial features look a little too similar to Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist. I also thought there were some impressive action panels included in some of the fight scenes that appear in this volume.
By the end Sakamoto Days Volume One, I found that I enjoyed the story and tone of the series. I think there’s a lot of potential here for a series, and I’m looking forward to getting an opportunity to read the next volume in order to find out what happens to Sakamoto and Shin.
If you enjoy light-hearted stories that focus on a character leaving a dangerous profession and turning into someone you wouldn’t normally expect, then I would recommend giving Sakamoto Days a chance.
The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media
Additional posts about Sakamoto Days: