Story by Ryukishi07; Art by Soichiro. Released in Japan by Square Enix, serialized in the magazine Gangan Joker. Released in North America by Yen Press.
Fans of Ryukishi07’s work know that he is very fond of moments of what can best be termed ‘shonen drama’, which features all the characters being as cool as possible. The difficulty is that he’s rarely able to take full advantage of that, as his stories have involved murder mysteries and psychological horror first and foremost, so the cool moments have had to be undercut. Now, with his first series that isn’t a mystery and isn’t part of the When They Cry style, he can allow himself to open the throttle and just do a straight up action adventure which consists, seemingly, of nothing *but* cool people being cool. The result is highly variable, but it certainly has style.
The premise of this book is that, due to a natural disaster during WWII, Japan has been taken over by America and China, with the Japanese still living in cities second-class citizens who mostly join yakuza groups in order to avoid starvation. Our hero, Leo, is a former soldier who’s arrived back in Japan after a long exile. He finds himself saving the madam of a high-class brothel, Primavera, and after a few more adventures she takes him on as a bodyguard. The rest of the book is about Primavera’s attempts to avoid getting taken over by the mob, and various fighting sequences. Oh yes, and like Tezuka’s ‘star system’, Ryukishi is reusing characters again – Meryl will remind many people of Satoko/Lambdadelta, and Stella might be a lot taller and bustier than Rika will ever be, but she makes it clear when she starts rubbing heads and pitying people where her origins really lie.
It’s refreshing reading a Ryukishi07 book where you don’t have to pay close attention to try to figure out little bits of the mystery, a la Umineko. Rose Guns Days is very straightforward, sometimes to a fault. Yen Press decided not to omnibus this series, so we only have the one normal volume to go on, and so we haven’t quite hit the ‘character depth’ point of the series yet. Leo and Rose particularly suffer from this – Leo is cool and smug, and can back up that smugness with his fists, but his tragic past that was hinted at in the visual novel hasn’t shown up here yet. As for Rose, what a girl as innocent as her is doing as the head of a group o prostitutes is baffling, given she’s so shiny and pure it’s possible she can be seen from space. Soichiro’s art also doesn’t help – this time around the character designs for the VN were by the manga artist, rather than Ryukishi07 himself, but that means that the manga itself tends to get stuck in a lot of ‘default sprite expression’ poses.
I suspect this is the sort of series where we won’t really have a feel of how it’s going to go till a few books in. Still, if you like fistfights and cool posing, and enjoy Ryukishi’s writing with the ‘irony’ filter turned off, Rose Guns Days is a lot of fun.