Title: Bootsleg Vol. 1
Author: Suzuhito Yasuda
Release Date: March 29, 2022
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Suzuhito Yasuda is more known for making illustrations for works of other creators. However, he also creates original manga. Bootsleg Vol. 1 is one such title, showing how much his penchant for sleek designs extends into fluid action.
Bootsleg Vol. 1 tells the story of a boy called Zen who lost his family when he was still a kid. This event also caused him to lose his left leg and changed his life forever. He spends seven years training to get stronger and look for revenge.
The culprit for his loss is a mysterious gloved creature called Shake Hand. Similar incidents with “Gloves” happened around the world, and, as such, people created an organization to fight them. Defeating them is the mission of the syndicate Bootsleg.
Bootsleg’s boss is a special shoe-maker. Not only does she creates footwear with high quality, she imbues a special skill on them. With the power of words, they allow people to make the most out of their potential. These unique powers are the biggest assets Zen and the friends he’ll meet in this volume will have at their disposal in the fight against Gloves.
As the volume goes on, we learn more about the world and this unique setting. On one side, we have these mysterious gloves showing up suddenly and causing devastation like a force of nature. On the other hand, we learn that Bootsleg is a big organization, but it doesn’t feel that way.
While Bootsleg is a cool group and the lore points to their size, the volume doesn’t manage to convey a sense of scale. While there may be many gloves, the manga is a revenge story focused entirely on building up a nemesis for individuals. There’s even a rule about only those with a proper wish for vengeance being able to cause damage to the specific glove.
This system feels a little arbitrary and undermines the potential for growth as far as this volume goes. We have a clear goal for Zen and the friends he makes along the way, but the progress so far feels padded and unnatural. There’s room for teamwork at least, but the division.
On the other hand, the story features some great action sequences. It doesn’t waste any visual information while properly conveying spatial awareness and movement when necessary. While reading it, I had an easy time imagining the whole thing animated.
Also, as expected from Suzuhito Yasuda, there are hot girls in suggestive poses sometimes. One of the later ones is usually mostly naked all the time. As her job is a little too hot and gets her sweaty, I’d imagine that’s the in-story reason. The volume never quite gets into explaining it though.
Bootsleg Vol. 1 is an intriguing, wild introduction to a weird world of mysterious gloves and footwear powered by the magic of words. The first volume is a fun read filled with many great action sequences. However, the story still needs to prove itself as the first volume’s world-building is marred by poor choices that make it feel artificial.
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