First Impressions: Smokin’ Parade (Manga – Volume 1)

Smokin’ Parade takes everything from Deadman Wonderland and cranks it up to 11. A main character that is thrust into a world full of super powered monsters, only this time instead of being framed for murder, he is almost murdered himself. Over the top gore in nearly every chapter, as well as bad guys that couldn’t act more evil unless they were going around murdering kittens and puppies. Unfortunately, everything I hated about the Deadman Wonderland has been amplified, and it is missing some of my favorite parts from the author’s previous work. They focused way to much on improving areas that were already fine in Deadman Wonderland, and left their weaker areas to deteriorate even further.

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Story By: Jinsei Kataoka

Art By: Kazuma Kondou

Published By: Yen Press

The general premise of Smokin’ Parade is pretty simple: A medical company called Amenotori has developed a special technique that lets them grow human organs and body parts, as well as a way to transplant those grown parts onto those needing them. The only problem is that a very small percentage of recipients turn into blood crazed lunatics that desire nothing but to murder everyone around them, and to make it worse they gain enormous power as well as the ability to manipulate their body to create all kinds of dangerous appendages. Luckily there is a task force set up to counter these monsters called the Jackalopes, who mutilate their own bodies by adding crazy prosthesis that give them super human abilities.

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Our main character Youkou is unwillingly thrust into this world, though it doesn’t take him long to get used to everything happening around him. In fact he never really stops to question anything at any point, he just doesn’t want to join the Jackalopes and would prefer to just go back to his normal life. This was the first sign that told me Smokin’ Parade probably wasn’t going to start off on a strong foot, since Youkou is a completely unrelatable character. In the first chapter he not only witnesses a brutal murder scene, he is a part of it. One girl has her head cut off and placed back on backwards while another has her innards ripped out, all while Youkou finds himself missing both arms and a leg. Not long after he also gets a whole the size of a basketball blown through his chest, so I kind of expected the guy to be freaking out over everything that is happening to him. Instead though, he kind of just remain cool and collected. Even if the shock of the moment was what was causing his insane reaction to the events taking place around him, after he is conscious again and sort-of in one piece, he just gives the Jackalopes a “thanks for everything” like nothing had happened.

Another thing that I disliked about this first volume was its pacing, as I felt it was going way to fast. In the first two chapters we already have Youkou joining the Jackalopes, even though he didn’t intend to in the beginning. He changes his mind in a matter of moments, going from “I don’t like you so see you later” to diving head first into battle with them a few pages later. Some more time should have been spent letting Youkou think about his decision, maybe thinking about how he could save people like his little sister. The fact that the chapter directly after he joins the team is one where they are all going on a missions seemed a bit rushed too. I would have liked to learn more about the Jackalopes during their down time, getting to know their personalities and powers. Everyone in the Jackalopes apparently have a troubled past that led them to joining the team too, so a little teaser on that could have been interesting to see for some characters.

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One thing that I did enjoy from this first volume was its ending, as it widens the scope of the story beyond just the Jackalopes responding to attacks and kicking ass. It introduces a criminal element to the Amenotori corporation suggesting that everything is not as it seems. Maybe their methods of acquiring human body parts isn’t 100% ethical after all, and the mystery behind the rare malfunction in the surgery that causes people to become monsters maybe something more than a rare side effect.  During the ending of the volume, we also get a sneak peak into who the big bad guys the Jackalopes will be facing in the future. All of these things had me interested to see what happens, I just hope they slow down the pacing so we can see some awesome fights and learn more about these characters. One of the things I disliked the most about Deadman Wonderland was the fact that hardly anyone got character development outside of Shiro and Ganta. Enemies were often revealed and killed within chapters of each other. I hope these enemies revealed in volume one stick round for a while, and we can learn what they are all about. It would be sweet if we could get some long, drawn out battles between the Jackalopes and these new enemies.

If you were a huge fan of Deadman Wonderland, this is a lot of the same. Lots of insane powers and even more gore than before, Smokin’ Parade is so over the top its hard to take seriously sometimes. If your just looking for some cheap action filled with gore it might do the trick, but if your asking for anything more than that its going to disappoint. A totally unrelatable (and often unlikeable) main character means your probably not going to cheer on these characters like you would Ganta and Shiro, but at least most of the character designs are top notch.

Recommendation: Skip It

** I would highly recommend checking out Immortal Hounds over this if you are looking for a new action series to get into. It probably has just as much gore, just not as graphic. The action scenes are crazy fun to read through though.

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