Sakamoto Days, a manga series by Yuuto Suzuki, tells the story of Taro Sakamoto, a now retired hitman. Each chapter is one “Day” in the life of Sakamoto. After falling in love, Sakamoto retired, gained weight, and began running a convenience store. When a former employee, the clairvoyant Shin appears, Sakamoto’s is dragged backed into the hitman world. Sakamoto’s skills haven’t suffered in his time away from killing. Instead he’s kept them sharp doing chores for the town people. After visiting his old boss, Shin leaves disappointed. It turns out he was sent to kill Sakamoto for leaving the hitman organization. Shin returns the next day to finish the job.
Sakamoto easily overwhelms Shin. Using the “tools” he has at his disposal, Sakamoto blocks a bullet with a cough drop, then uses them like bullets with the help of a rubber band. Despite his size, Sakamoto is quick on his feet. He’s able to move silently and quickly. On top of all that he seems to possess superhuman strength. Shin returns having failed to kill his former boss. His current boss isn’t pleased. Shin admires Sakamoto too much to kill him and is even willing to sacrifice himself instead. When the boss orders Shin dead, it’s Sakamoto that comes to his rescue.
The penalty is divorce
Suzuki quickly undermines what we assumed to be the main premise of the series. Yes, Sakamoto retired. However, he remains prepared to fight at any point. After the first Day, Shin gets what he wants. An opportunity to work for Sakamoto again. Only it’s at a store. Sakamoto Days centers around the importance of rules. Sakamoto is targeted by his old colleagues for breaking a rule when he ran out on the organization. His wife, Aoi Sakamoto, reminds him of the “family rules,” which include “no killing.” Breaking these rules have consequences. For the hitmen it’s death for his wife it’s divorce.
Despite her hatred of death, Aoi is confident in her husbands fighting ability. When she’s a hostage in busjacking she tells the criminals that she’s not worried because “I know he’ll always save me.” The family rules are codified in the “Sakamoto Family Rules Notebook,” which Taro Sakamoto gives to Shin to follow. Based on Day 2, there’s at least 12 rules, with the first one being “no killing.” Day 3 introduces Officer Nakase. A spirited young woman, she becomes suspicious of Shin and Taro. They have a fun chase scene through the mall. However, Officer Nakase loses our protagonist. After rescuing a young woman, she’s captured by the Zuttomo Motorcycle Gang.
The power of Sakamoto
At this point in the series we know that Shin has a supernatural ability of clairvoyance. Shin and Taro make great use of this ability. It allows them to communicate without speaking. Which is good, especially considering Taro’s quiet. Telepathy also protects them from exposing their past as hitmen. While trying to rescue Officer Nakase, they work in tandem, covered by a smokescreen, while Shin gives Taro the location of the gang members. At the end of the conflict, Taro emerges from the smoke, thin. Does he have superpowers too? Does he need to eat to maintain his strength? We aren’t given specifics but this would be my best guess.
Despite it’s tone and art style, Sakamoto Days is a violent series. However, the violence Taro and Shin produce is far less violent than what the criminals produce. Taro and Shin don’t kill and they use tools normal use for other purposes, like pots, pans, food, or a refrigerator. Whereas, the villains use more traditional weapons like knives, swords, and guns. The violence may be different but it’s always present. Taro often threatens Shin with death, and imagines various ways to “kill” him. It’s played for laughs and I think it’s effective. Engaging in violent fantasy seems to be one way Taro copes with not being able to kill.
A billion yen bounty
By Day 6, Taro has acquired another employee, former triad member, Lu Xiao-tan. She’s got fighting skills as well as being a good cook. As Taro, Lu, and Shin abandoned their more violent lives they’re still able to function, making use of both the violent skills developed and secondary ones. We encounter another former employee of Taro’s, Nagumo. He’s able to shapeshift and avoid Shin’s telepathy. Sakamoto Days ups the stakes here. Other assassins have abilities and Shin can’t read all of their minds. Nagumo is captured. He reveals that a billion yen price has been offered for Taro’s head. When the Pizza Assassin tries to kill Taro, Nagumo subdues him and escapes. We’re briefly introduced to those who want Taro dead, the Dondenka. Taro issues them a warning. Come after him and “get ready to see hell.”
Sakamoto Days is a action packed series, with humor, comedy, and supernatural elements. It balances all these aspect well. Yuuto Suzuki art is versatile. He’s able to provide detail and shading when necessary and draws action well. As Shonen protagonist goes, Taro Sakamoto is both typical and different. Like most, he’s a power house dominating his opposition. He loves to fight and eat. However, he’s an adult male and has already mastered his abilities. The power system (if we can call it that) seems fluid. I appears that each of the best assassins have some kind of power to help them, if that’s the case things could get interesting. Sakamoto Days is a series I would recommend.