Buronson and Ryoichi Ikegami
Strain is the story of Mayo, an hitman who lives in Kuala
Lampur, Malaysia. His rep is that he will kill anyone for
five dollars, but when he's hired to kill the mother of a
teenage hooker by the name of Shion, he has a change of heart.
Because of this uncharacteristic change of heart, he's marked
for death. And, rather than killing the girl, he takes her
under his watch.
The world of Strain is a mirror reflection of the underside
of real Malaysia - dark and dirty streets littered with hookers,
drugs and violence. While revealing this harsh world, elements
of hope shine through. Mayo's change of heart and Shion's
attempted act of self-degradation to save her mother both
show a light amongst the darkness. Outside of these people,
the world proves to be a cruel and sadistic society, reveling
in a lack of rules.
Rather than creating a cyber future or a fantasy steeped
in lore, Buronson tells a modern fictional story akin to Western
action movies. Instead of looking for a fight or retelling
history, characters interact and show signs of introspection.
Ryoichi Ikegami's illustrations are a change of pace from
the standard manga. Characters and surroundings are drawn
with a strong sense of realism and volume. The heavy tone
of the story is achieved through ink washes that give even
more life to the art work and body to the characters.
Strain is not for all audiences. The heavy nudity and sexual
scenes are often offset but the almost casual murders. Readers
of young ages should not get this and those who like their
manga a little more fantastic might not care for it. Both
the art and story are well done and provide a nice change
of pace from the average tome of manga.