Gangsta 4 by Kohske

This is, undoubtedly, one of the best manga titles published today in English.  Layered, nuanced, subtle, powerful – it’s one of a few stories that truly rewards upon rereading. Impressively, those descriptions relate not only to the story itself but also to the art as well. I have rarely been so impressed with a title as much as I have with Gangsta.

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Story:  Alex tries to remember her past but only snippets come back to her. All she knows is that she has a brother and wants to find him again. And then there’s Nicholas’ kindnesses, which also mystify her in ways she doesn’t understand. But quiet moments are few as the Twilight situation in Ergastulum begins to unravel. At a party at the Christiano family (who are known to protect and harbor Twilights), violence erupts all around as Twilights are slaughtered. Caught in the middle are the Handy Men as well as Christiano’s group, led by teen Loretta. It’s clear, something is very wrong in Ergastulum.

We’re introduced to more characters, expanding the universe and bringing additional pathos to this very intricate storyline. Volume 3’s substory is about Constance and Marco – two normals caught up in the Twilight situation through Marco working for Loretta Christiano. There are subtle hints that there is a lot more to the story of the two and I really appreciate how Kohske introduces tidbits through the most banal of moments. It all seems so innocuous those little things – a wordless panel or a side comment. But it all has huge ramifications later. There are no throwaways in gangsta – it’s all lean storytelling muscle.

By Volume 4, things hinted at in earlier volumes are now coming to fruition. Kohske allows the story to unfold organically, small pieces at a time, without the need to rush or overtell.  This is superb storytelling with a hard hitting edge of reality in a very fantastical world.

Reviewed from an ARC.

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