Sakamoto Days GN 1 – Review
Taro Sakamoto was once Japan’s most feared assassin…until he fell in love with it. Now he’s an overweight convenience store owner, married, and a father of a young daughter, and he’s very happy to carry on that way. Unfortunately, the world of crime isn’t one bit keen on letting him retire in peace, so it’s a good thing that Sakamoto kept all his old skills working, even though his wife threatened to divorce him. if he kills someone again.
Yes SPY x FAMILY was told exclusively through Yor’s point of view, it could be a bit like that. Sakamoto Days is of the same ilk of goofy crime parody, albeit with more than one The Way of the Husband at Home flair due to Sakamoto’s official retirement. For the most part he is actually very happy with his new domestic life, so much so that he is happy to bring other former assassins to work at the convenience store, such as psychic assassin Shin and former Chinese syndicate member Xiaotan. But just because his wife Aoi made him promise not to kill again doesn’t mean he can truly put the past behind him, and that’s a lot of where the premise’s humor comes in. Naturally , Sakamoto still has all of his old skills in full working order, not to mention a secret arsenal hidden behind the facade of his otherwise unremarkable convenience store, which is more convenient than anyone ever imagined.
Not that he actually Needs firearms, knives or any other form of traditional weaponry. The first member of his old profession to find him (in the book, anyway) is Shin, Sakamoto’s former partner in the underworld, who has a very special gift: clairvoyance and telepathy. Shin can read any mind from a distance, and thanks to his powers we see that although Sakamoto is retired, he still has his share of thoughts on the way things used to be – and most of them. ‘among them involve taking someone out with a pen or a quick twist of the neck. He doesn’t seem to really want to go back to his violent ways; it’s presented as a habit, the same way we might say something like “I’m going to kill him” about someone who annoys us without any intention of doing so. Actually commit murder. It’s not that it makes Shin feel better to catch sight of Sakamoto stabbing him in the neck with a pen, but the disconnect between the blank-faced expression (or non-expression) that Sakamoto typically wears and his visions. violent ones make for very good comedy, especially when you add Shin’s reaction to it.
Once Sakamoto takes Shin in, convincing him of the joys of domestic life, Shin essentially becoming Sakamoto’s brother in how he fits into the larger family, Shin becomes just as comfortable as his former partner in his new life. , and by the end of the volume, his devotion to keeping this new life has become his new way of life. Most of the time, he just does the convenience store clerk thing, but every once in a while he and Sakamoto (and Xiaotan, the Chinese girl Sakamoto picks up later in the volume) have to pull out the old skills in order to dungeon comfortable and peaceful things. Fortunately, the two have kept their instincts sharp, allowing them to save Sakamoto’s wife when his bus is hijacked and defend themselves against a variety of killers, among other exploits. The bus incident is one of the volume’s highlights, with Sakamoto donning an anime mask to keep his identity hidden and accidentally attracting the attention of zealous young cop Nakase (who is convinced he must be evil despite evidence to the contrary) and Aoi just hung around the bus during the attack, convinced that her husband will save her before anything bad happens. Later, a trip to take Hana, the Sakamotos’ young daughter, to a theme park requires Shin and Xiaotan to defend the family from janitor assassins and pizza chef assassins, which is every bit as funny as it sounds.
The only real fly in the ointment here is that Sakamoto’s weight is used for a few less than excellent jokes. Not that the book has to be tasteful in every way (and the reverse may be true, given the premise), but it isn’t. need gags on Sakamoto’s pasty body to be funny, making for an unattractive low blow in an otherwise entertaining volume. There’s the obligatory joke about him losing weight quickly and then gaining it back quickly, which just isn’t as clever or fun as the rest of the book, and overall the the fact that Sakamoto looks out of shape while clearly being a top-tier assassin is more than enough commentary on his looks. Maybe it doesn’t help that the art is kind of middle of the road, good enough to give us a sense of movement and the ridiculous nature of Shin and Sakamoto’s exploits (like the really good roller coaster fight) but nothing remarkable otherwise.
Sakamoto Days‘ the first volume is, for the most part, great fun, and even unnecessary weight jokes can’t really bring it down. It establishes a good cast of characters (I highly doubt we’ve seen the last of enthusiastic policewoman Nakase), has an entertaining premise, and it’s well executed. If you’re in the mood for a domestic assassin comedy, it’s worth picking up.