Sakamoto Days is the very first long series by Yûto Suzuki, a young author who started his career in 2019 at Shûeisha with different short stories for Shônen Jump+ and Shônen Jump GIGA. It is, moreover, in this last magazine that he publishes, on December 26, 2019, a short story called “Sakamoto”, which, with a certain success, will become chapter 0 of Sakamoto Days. A few months later, more precisely in November 2020, the series was launched, and is still continuing today. Regarding Yûto Suzuki, he graduated from the Tokyo University of the Arts in the Department of Japanese Painting, says he is particularly influenced by Dômu – Rêves d’enfants by Katsuhiro Otomo, and places Hunter x Hunter by Yoshihiro Togashi at the top of his mangas. favourites.
The work introduces us to Taro Sakamoto, one of the most talented assassins of his generation. Always carrying out his contracts with discretion, rigor and precision, this cold and solitary killer is as much feared by thugs of all types as he arouses the admiration of his peers. But that was before, because 5 years ago Sakamoto suddenly put away the weapons without leaving a trace. The reason ? Well, one day while shopping in a convenience store, he fell in love with the radiant saleswoman, Aoi, and decided to marry her to live happily with her in a simple daily life. Today, Sakamoto therefore has a loving wife, an adorable little girl, a grocery store that he runs with ease, and… a small bundle of extra pounds, accumulated by dint of enjoying his cushy daily life. And when we give him “missions”, it’s no longer assassinations, but rather pruning branches, convincing kids to eat their vegetables, that kind of thing worthy of a nice handyman. But this daily life is destined to be a little turned upside down when Shin reappears before him, a young assassin who was once his disciple, who has the particularity of being a telepath, and who has never stopped looking for him. By force of circumstances, Sakamoto will have to return to service, but aren’t his overweight and the rules imposed by his charming wife likely to be a handicap?
We reassure you right away: the answer is no, and Sakamoto’s new way of life is even, obviously, one of the comic leitmotifs of the series as soon as he comes into conflict with this old status of assassin that he is, despite himself, pushed to partially resume to protect his little happiness. This is how between the threat of his former employers wanting to eliminate him for treason, the protection of his former disciple and his family, the rescue of a young Chinese martial arts adept (Shao-Tan Lu, who will quickly become the third central character with Sakamoto and Shin), or even a stay at the amusement park during which he and his two acolytes must thwart the plans of various assassins, our paunchy hero applies himself to taking action at his manner, always avoiding arousing suspicion about his identity and killing his opponents (so as not to betray the rules of his precious Aoi). And this is where the humor of the work is in full swing in the first place: in addition to playing effectively on the shift of a Sakamoto remaining efficient and badass despite his overweight, Yût Suzuki also has fun, a few times, to force the line even more in this improbable class of his hero. Deflect a pistol bullet by spitting out a candy? Stop a bus with a sign? Counter a knife attack with pliers? Not the slightest worry for him, all while never being out of breath. But the funny moments can also come from other elements, like Sakamoto’s always impassive side, or Shin’s telepathy which sometimes causes him to have creepy visions (especially when Sakamoto “thought-kills” him).
On the narrative and visual side, Suzuki demonstrates quite promising things. If his designs remain for the moment a little irregular in the features and do not have a strong personality, they nevertheless remain lively and quite expressive. But above all, the graphic leg benefits from a staging work that is always very fluid, with even some fairly graphic cut-outs. As for the narration, clear, it has the particular advantage of going through Shin more than through Sakamoto, the latter very often remaining silent or not very talkative, which also accentuates the part of offbeat humor.
There remains then, at the end of all that, the question of the longevity of the work: Sakamoto Days being a concept series, will it hold up over time? This volume 1 contenting itself with posing the said concept and installing the main characters without seeming to set up a minimum pushed scenario, one can wonder if all that will be able to be renewed thereafter. Therefore, Glénat’s choice to publish volume 2 at the same time as the first volume is intelligent, perhaps being destined to already give us a better idea of the thing.
In the meantime, this first opus does its job pretty well on the whole: the progress does not offer anything original for the moment, but the exploitation of the basic concept is good enough to make people smile more than once. There’s something endearing about the paunchy yet charismatic and badass Sakamoto, which we hope will grow stronger in the future.
This column having been written from a digital proof provided by the publisher, no opinion on the edition.