The manga industry can be cut throat. New series only have a short period to capture readers attention before they’re judged worthy of continued publication. If a series manages to produce enough hype it can quickly take off like Jujutsu Kaisen. While JJK’s success is rare, a manga series doesn’t necessarily have to reach those heights. Gachiakuta is a potential hit. It’s already causing a stir among manga fans and I’m always looking for another series to read. Written and illustrated by Kei Urana (Kanaru) a former assistant to Atsushi Ohkubo (Soul Eater/Fire Force), Gachiakuta Chapter 1: Heaven, introduces us to Rudo and the “shitty” world he was born into.
The Trash Vandal Rudo
The world of Gachiakuta has a simple class system. The rich live in the city while the poor called “tribe folk” live in the slums. Rudo is introduced as he steals trash from the city. When he returns home, he’s chastised by his crush Chiwa. For Rudo, collecting rich people’s trash allows him to make use of “old” things and sell them as well. In Gachiakuta, the slums are populated with the descendants of criminals. Some bullies show up to mock Rudo. They reveal that he’s a child of “murderers,” and he’s destined to become one as well.
Rudo was taken in by Regto. He tells Rudo it isn’t his responsibility to earn money. However, Rudo feels obligated to contribute. Regto warns Rudo that if he keeps stealing from the waste collection site he could be executed or “throw him into the Abyss.” Rudo’s parents appeared to have been monsters. Not only did Rudo’s father get thrown in the Abyss for murder, they scarred Rudo. His hands are revealed to be black and according to Rudo he “sometimes feels excruciating pain.” Regto gave Rudo gloves that both covered his scars and subdued his pain.
Enter the Abyss
The Abyss is a large dump site. All trash is eventually thrown down there as well as criminals. Rudo witnesses another man being dropped into the Abyss, as he wonders what’s “down there,” Chiwa surprises him from behind. After a touching moment between them, Rudo rushes home with excitement. On his way he crashes into a suspicious man in a mask and hood. Rudo brushes the moment off and heads home. There he finds a horrific site. Regto has been murdered.
Rudo tries to save his foster father, who tells him to “run,” and that Rudo needs to change “this shitty world.” Suddenly, the cops shoot Rudo in the back with tasers. He’s instantly accused of Regto’s murder. It doesn’t take much for Redo to be convicted and sentenced to death. Enraged by the death of Regto and the false accusations, Redo tells the crowd that they’re the “filthy ones,” “pieces of shit,” who don’t have minds of their own. He sees the masked man and snaps. As he’s dropped down he promises to send all of the people in the slums “to hell.” Rudo lands in the Abyss, where the filthy live.
At first glance, Gachiakuta isn’t anything special but I can see its promise. The story isn’t particularly original yet, especially regarding its class politics; rich people are bad, poor people are oppressed. Regardless, I’m interested. Do rich people commit crimes and drop down from the city to the slums? Or do they just avoid punishment? Is it possible to rise up to a higher class? Then there’s the obvious questions. Who killed Regto and why? Has Chiwa really given up on Rudo? What was the massive black thing Redo saw when falling? An important quality I look for in manga is its art style. Kei Urana’s art style is expressive, fluid, and detailed. She makes good use of shadow and motion. Her inspiration from the Fire Force and Soul Eater series are present. I loved the art in those series so I love Gachiakuta’s style. I read the first volume of Gachiakuta before determining whether I’ll review this series, but so far I’m intrigued.