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Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs: Anne Freaks, Volume 1

by  in Comic News Comment
Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs: Anne Freaks, Volume 1

Anne Freaks, Volume 1
Written and Illustrated by Yua Kotegawa
ADV Manga; $9.99

I don’t talk about a lot of manga in this column. That’s not because I don’t like it; it’s just rare that a particular series hits all the right buttons for me. Anne Freaks (or the first volume at least) is one of the ones that does.

Here’s the back cover copy, which is what nabbed me:

Three people united by a terrifying secret.

Yuri, a young man who killed his own mother.

Mitsuba, who will gladly murder to avenge the sister that was taken from him.

Anna, the mysterious assassin with a chilling beauty.

Together, they’ll stop at nothing to bring down a terrorist organization…

And along the way, they’ll come closer to the truth that brings them together.

I’m such a sucker for mysterious pasts and hidden connections that have to be discovered. I’m also for people trying to bring down terrorist organizations. Not al Qaeda (well okay, them too), but I’m thinking more along the lines of SPECTRE and HYDRA. And when the people doing the bringing down are a trio of kids, apparently operating all by themselves, well now I have to know what happens. And what’s up with all the killing, murder, and assassination in their backgrounds?

I saw Public Enemies this past week and like everyone else I’ve talked to about it, I was disappointed by how little it tried to get me to care about any of the characters. I’m predisposed to care about Johnny Depp and Christian Bale, but Depp never rose above “charming hoodlum” and Bale – with a lot of support from the script – seemed determined to be as generic a lawman as ever there was. Michael Mann and Company could’ve learned something from Yua Kotegawa who took some potentially very unlikable characters and made them my friends.

Yuri may be a killer, but it’s not what defines him. He’s actually a sweet kid who was pushed into a horrible corner and had to make a choice.

Mitsuba – as the back cover tells us – is motivated by revenge. Though his crimes are technically less than Yuri’s, he’s a darker character than the mother-killer because of what he’s willing to do. Hell, even before his family was murdered he was a pretty ruthless thug. When we meet him he’s using a steel pipe to beat up a guy. True the guy’s a sleaze-bag who’d propositioned one of Mitsuba’s female friends, but we get the idea that the plan was always to pretend the girl was a prostitute and then mug anyone unfortunate enough to try to hire her.

Bringing them together is Anna, a beautiful girl with secret motives who coerces the boys into joining her in a quest to murder her father. She doesn’t say why it needs doing, but considering where life has left the two fellows, they don’t have a choice. Did Anna manipulate events to put Yuri and Mitsuba in positions where they’d be forced to help her? Volume 1 doesn’t say, but Anna is a cold, cold, young woman and I wouldn’t put it past her.

Of course Yuri falls in love with her. I’m a little in love with her myself and she didn’t save me from life in prison. She’s deadly and confident and in complete control all of the time. She runs the show and though she ought to be scary, you sense that she’s working for a noble purpose. Or maybe she’s so heart-achingly attractive that I just want to believe that deep down she’s actually virtuous and good. Maybe she’s bewitched and manipulated me as much as she has Yuri. Whatever the case, she’s fascinating.

Mitsuba may be in love with her too, but if he is he’s cooler and less obvious about it. He enjoys picking on Yuri for being weak and transparent. I probably sound like I don’t like Mitsuba, but I do. He may have been a punk, but he didn’t deserve what happened to his sister. His tragedy helps to focus him though by giving him a target for his rage. I hope he’s eventually able to channel his grief in a positive direction. I want to keep reading to see if he does.

We don’t learn much about the terrorist organization in Volume 1. Anna’s dad must be involved with them in some way, but that’s not confirmed. All we really know is that they’re willing to murder innocent people (according to Anna anyway) and that they wear the same salamander-like tattoo that Anna has on her arm. No idea why. Was she part of the group? Is she still? Did her father recruit her? Is she betraying him? Does he know she wants him dead?

There are so many questions and Kotegawa does such an excellent job asking them. I’m heavily invested in the two, tragic boys and absolutely mesmerized by the girl who’s exploiting them. This definitely isn’t the last time you’ll be reading about Anne Freaks in this column. My mouth is already watering for Volume 2.

Five out of five face-stomps.

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