Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Blank Slate

Overall Rating: B+
Summary: Created by Aya Kanno, this action/suspense shonen ai series is very interesting, if nothing else because it's a lot darker than most shojo. In fact, Blank Slate has little in common with most series under the Shojo Beat imprint, with little to no focus on romantic relationships, love triangles or other typical shojo tropes.

The series follows Zen, an incredibly beautiful and infamous criminal, whose memory has been wiped. Supposedly, Zen is  the "worst criminal in history", and has killed a large number of people. He is hunted by the police, bounty hunters, and pretty much anyone else with a reason to want Zen captured/dead (which is apparently 99.9% of everyone).

However, from Zen's point of view, he just woke up one day with an urge to destroy and kill. As he describes it, those two words have consumed him since he woke up, and so he has done just that.  While the main character in the series is most certainly Zen, the manga has a secondary storyline about how people who meet Zen change because of his actions.

The first chapter of volume 1 introduces a bounty hunter who is out to take down his number one target, and "control Zen's future" (by which he mostly means kill him). Yet, after pretending to become Zen's partner to get close to him, he ends up being the one who is controlled by Zen, and even sides with Zen in the end.

The first volume ends with the introduction of someone who knows about Zen's past, and gives some hints to what's coming in this suspenseful series.

I saw "Blank Slate" on the shelf at Borders a couple of times before reading a blurb about it on http://www.boingboing.net. After hearing a little more about the series, I decided to pick up the first volume and check it out. It's definitely not what I would expect from Shojo Beat, but the obvious shonen ai vibes seem to be the primary reason it's on the imprint. Overall, I really enjoyed the book, and am excited about seeing the series develop. My only complaint (and why I didn't give it an A) is that it took awhile before Kanno gives you the juiciest plot hooks. That being said, I still thoroughly enjoyed the book, and am excited about checking out the next volume.

Read the first 19 pages of the first volume!

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