Japanese sculptor and mangaka, Eldo Yoshimizu, recently had his first manga series, RYUKO, officially published in English for the first time. The two-part series, written and drawn by Yoshimizu, is a crime thriller manga that is filled with intrigue and conspiracy on almost every side that also dives into the complexities of morality.
The story centers on Ryuko, a powerful and formidable Yakuza princess, who took over her family’s gang after she killed her father and now seeks revenge for people that kidnapped her mother. While her kidnapped mother also serves to connect the plot as the narrative dives into the criminal underworld in the Middle East, China, and with an unknown terrorist organization. There’s plenty of action-packed shootouts, motorcycles, dramatic reveals along the way as Ryuko leaves a bloody trail through her enemies and to uncovering the truth. The series was also the first manga included in Titan Comics’ Hard Case Crime line, a brand that is focused on hard-hitting crime fiction.
Having reviewed and enjoyed the series, I was excited to have the opportunity to interview Eldo Yoshimizu to discuss his manga further.
But Why Tho?: Something I enjoyed about RYUKO was that it pays homage to classic gangster cinema. Where did your interest in that genre come from? And do you have a specific film or story in the genre that you like within it?
Yoshimizu: I liked the French 60’s movies starring Jean Gabin and Alain Delon. Recently, I like Korean crime movies most. My favorite movies are Les Aventuriers and HANA-BI. My favorite crime movie is Mélodie en sous-sol, HEAT, The Yellow Sea (Korean), Sonatine.
But Why Tho?: This manga tackles the moral complexities of “good” and “evil” through a variety of characters such as Russian assassins, the Afghan war, Chinese triads, and Yakuza. What inspired you to create a story that explores the complexities of morality through the lens of different characters?
Yoshimizu: I like a multi-view story. I was influenced by these: Paul Haggis’ Crash and Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 21 Grams and Babel
But Why Tho?: Let’s talk about the titular character Ryuko. On the outside, when we first met her in Volume 1, she appears to be ruthless and cold Yakuza Boss. However, in Volume 2, as the story goes on, we see that she has a genuinely kind heart, carries years of guilt, and all while having to have an immensely strong will. What was it like writing a character like with Ryuko with different layers and depth?
Yoshimizu: Ryuko is protecting the baby from the first scene. Sometimes violent and ferocious behavior is based on her beliefs. I didn’t want RYUKO to be a typical revenge story. However, expressing her growth was difficult and fun for me. RYUKO has grown, and I have grown.
But Why Tho?: Something that has stood out to me about this manga is your ability to make objects and characters feel like they are full of life and move fluidly on the page. What’s your process for capturing fluidity in your illustrations?
Yoshimizu: The idea is similar to the cubism drawn by Picasso and Georges Braque. In a real battle, various things happen simultaneously. I wanted to express it on one page.
But Why Tho?: RYUKO was your first manga, and now that it has come to an end, do you have any interest in doing another one any time soon?
Yoshimizu: Currently, I am drawing a new work. The title is Gamma Draconis. The story is written by Benoist Simmat. It will be published by Lezard Noir in France in the spring of 2020. After that, I plan to draw my own story.
But Why Tho?: What is one thing you’d want readers to take away from RYUKO after they finish reading it?
Yoshimizu: Live with belief.
RYUKO Volume 1 and Volume 2 by mangaka Eldo Yoshimizu are now available.