Story and Art: Akimine Kamijyo
Rating: Older Teen
When Sakura Sakurakoji is witness to a murder, she is shocked to find that not only was the crime covered up; the perpetrator is a transfer student in her class named Rei. Known as the vigilante “Code:Breaker”, Rei sets his sights on silencing Sakura before she can spill his secret.
It’s not every day a series comes along that can shake up a genre and do so successfully. Code: Breaker takes the classic shonen formula of a tortured hero who finds redemption in romance and turns it on its head. When talking about Rei, the use of the word tortured might be an understatement. From the first few pages, the character is already shown to be nearly beyond redemption as he watches with cold malice as several people burn to death by his own hands. There are times when the character shows he is capable of compassion, such as wreaking havoc on the Yakuza for past crimes, but it is quickly undone when he sets a police officer on fire later on.
Sakura is stronger than your average female lead, standing up to Rei despite his initial attempts to kill her. Throughout the volume she follows Rei on his various missions, determined to learn the truth behind his motivations. Unfortunately, her attempts to provide him with a conscience are largely unsuccessful though one has to give her credit for spunk as she never allows herself to be deterred.
Like most shonen series, there are bits of comedy interspersed between the drama, however because of the seriousness of the subject matter, it mostly falls flat and feels out of place. Also familiar to the shonen genre in the amount of action featured in each chapter, allowing for plenty of opportunities to show off Rei’s pyrokinesis. At this juncture, Rei is the sole character to display abnormal abilities and as a result, many of the fights are one sided and predictable.
The art style is about what one would expect of a shonen series with crisp line work and dynamic layouts. The character designs are a bit generic considering the use of school uniforms for costumes is overused however to the artist’s credit; the faces of the characters are recognizable and reminiscent of the style of fellow artist Takeshi Ohbata of Death Note fame.
Code: Breaker volume 1 provided a surprisingly entertaining read as it sought to bring a different take to the shonen formula. If the series can continue building on the strengths exhibited in this first outing and resist devolving into the typical super powered fighting fair, Code: Breaker may just prove to be the breakout title of the year.
Those in the Miami area can pick up a copy of Code: Breaker Volume 1 from local Barnes and Noble and Borders booksellers.