Ongoing Investigations: Case #184

I finally caught up with Motorcity (2-12) not that I had fallen too far behind, but it is nice to be current. Though there is no word when the next episode is due out yet. This show has really gotten some traction as the later episodes focus on individual characters and developing parts of the world.

From the Duke of Detroit to mutant terrorists to crime bosses, Motorcity has its share of seedy characters. This really brings flavor to the world under Deluxe and thematically works to highlight Deluxe’s true price for clean, streamlined perfection. And in the world of Deluxe the force of its army and machines against The Burners and Motorcity is steadily increasing.

The last aired episode was a stand out as we learned about Dutch’s family who still live in Deluxe. And in a lot of ways the series went out of its way to make me not really think about who the Burners were related to and how they were affected by what’s going on. Up until this point, not much has been said about people’s home lives with the exception of Julie.

Speaking of. I definitely request more Julie! She has the greatest conflict of the series but we just don’t see her enough.

There is a special quality to a one book manga. Sometimes a story needs more room to breath than a one shot but is not suited for a long 10+ books run. Romantic stories can really suffer because of this. There is enough meat to their story as to need some time to for a relationship to develop but if the series goes on for too long you start having to add in unnecessary complications just to keep thing interesting while delaying the inevitable conclusion. The pointless rival character (or characters), the silly misunderstanding, or the unnecessary delayed confession can all extend a story by several books but can frustrate the reader at the same time. If you have a strong tent pole beside the romantic conflict you can extend a story with far less effort but then the romance becomes a background element. But being one book long sometimes gives you exactly what you want without leaving you feeling frustrated.

While Sakuran is hardly focused on romance it does have a story that I think is perfectly suited to being one book. There is some romance in the book. In fact the whole climax is centered around it. But it is more of an accent on the story than the raison d’ĂȘtre. I think that Moyoco Anno was wise to tell the story she wants to tell in one go. Sakuran mainly focuses on the fact that Kiyoha’s life utterly stinks. She can’t escape the life of being a courtesan. Her life is better than being a simple prostitute but in the end it is just that she is in a slightly nicer prison cell. No matter how she rises within her little world she can never really break free.

A single chapter does not fully show her struggle. You really need to see her trials as she rises in the ranks. You need to see that she keeps rising in her little world but her problems just change but never go away. She is always property and she is always chained to her destiny. But I think that beyond maybe another book or two the story would feel claustrophobic and mostly just misery porn. It is not really a story that can be episodic like say Bartender. Although if someone wants to write a story about a prostitute who always finds the key to their client’s problems with some unusual sexual act I assure you there would be an audience for such a title. You could also focus on the politics of the brothel but it would have really changed the tone of the story. It was just the right length for the story that was told.

I will say that on of Moyoco Anno’s real skills is letting characters shine despite adversity. While Hiroko Matsukata’s life in Hataraki Man is infinitely better than Kiyoha’s they are both women who are brilliant as they rise to a challenge. They both have a unique beauty as they defy their position. They both try to find happiness in places that where it can be hard to see. But obviously Kiyoha’s battle is a much more desperate one. And on some levels it makes it more beautiful if somewhat depressing at the same timel. She is someone who could have been so much if she was born in different circumstances.

I was also impressed with the delicate use of paradox. Being a courtesan she is an extremely glamorous prostitute but in the end she is still just a prostitute. Now matter how fancy her dress or elegant her manner she is still beaten if she steps out of line. She still has no real freedom. Also she is in a sexual and sensual profession but there is nothing sensual about it. All the sex is technical. A means to an end. A show and a game. All the intimacy is a deception and everyone involved knows it but props up a lie.

Overall this is a great mature story with some good bang for your buck. If you want a short series to read in one go it is something to check out. One and done. Just don’t read this anywhere where you would have people looking over your shoulder that you don’t know too well. When the book is graphic is unabashedly frank. But if you are in a safe space it is a strong tale for adults.

The Ongoing Investigations are little peeks into what we are watching and reading outside of our main posts on the blog. We each pick three things that we were interested in a week and talk a bit about them. There is often not much rhyme or reason to what we pick. They are just the most interesting things we saw since the last Ongoing Investigation.

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