Pain and Destruction is Her Middle Name: Thoughts on Murciélago from Yen Press Editorial
I’m Carl, the assistant editor on Yen Press’s newest manga, Murciélago by Yoshimurakana. It’s a title filled with sex and violence ideal for fans of old-school gun-toting action series who aren’t afraid of a story that gets downright dirty. Having edited Murciélago, I’d like to give my thoughts on it.
Although they say to never judge a book by its cover, my first impression of Murciélago actually came from doing exactly that. Without knowing anything about the contents, I found the appearance of the heroine, Kuroko Koumori, to be rather striking. Tall with long, dark hair, her crazed stare and her smile give the impression that there’s something intense about her, a kind of bizarre sensuality that screams both “danger” and “intrigue.”
After reading Murciélago, it turns out that Kuroko is even wilder than I anticipated. The first things you learn about her are as follows:
1) She’s a (former?) mass murderer who escapes execution by becoming a state-sponsored assassin, a real anti-hero type.
2) She’s a lesbian and proud of it. The first time we see her, Kuroko is engaging in some serious girl-on-girl action.
Given her talent with firearms, she reminded me somewhat of manga’s many gun-toting heroines. Her deadliness combined with her talent in bed called to mind manga’s most famous assassin, Golgo 13. However, I find that there’s a distinct difference between them and her, which is that Kuroko revels in the death and destruction she creates, bringing with her an eerie sophistication.
In Kuroko’s eyes, violence is art: an experience both visceral yet enlightening. When you peer into her mind, you see not stone-cold resolve or powerful emotions amidst trauma, but a dark chaos filtered through a genuine desire to enjoy life. Making sure Kuroko’s words properly conveyed that madness and that zest was a priority for me as editor.
While I mentioned Kuroko’s character design earlier, I do want to mention that Yoshimurakana draws a wide range of character designs, including doe-eyed girls, a psychotic geriatric, and a pro wrestler who redefines “swoll.” The variation in appearances is fascinating in its incongruity.
Actually, that’s something I can say about the manga in general. Working on Murciélago, I felt myself unable to predict what would happen from one page to the next. The willingness for the author to constantly add to this seemingly disparate hodgepodge (whether it’s story elements or character designs), and make it work in the process (!), is nothing short of impressive.
If you’re looking for a title rife with thrills and grim levity, where the beautiful and the grotesque intermingle, then Murciélago is right up your alley. Kuroko’s wild ride never stops.
Murciélago Volume 1 is on sale now from Yen Press!