Otaku Corner: Tokyo Tribes Vol 3

Tokyo Tribes Vol. 3 looks at dynamics of gang life

Previously, I reviewed Santa Inoue’s Tokyo Tribes, an experiment mixing hip-hop with manga. Volume 3 is here and to be honest, this volume is a collision course of fathers concerned with their sons’ futures and the beginning of a three-way battle for Tokyo’s streets with a hint of vengeance mixed in.
At the outset, Saru members are running from Unkoi’s bodyguard, Galileo, who severely injured them. When Kai is told about what happened, he, Hasheem and Steno set out to help the wounded Saru members, leaving his father who is determined to get Kai to be more productive. When they get to the injured Saru, Kai, Steno and Hasheem come face to face with Galileo.
During dinner at a Japanese restaurant, Bubba and Unkoi along with Mera are finishing a dinner with planners for a new subway connector/flood prevention tunnel being built in Bukuro. When one of the planners asks Bubba who would help supervise the project, he suggested that Unkoi take up the job to help him prepare to inherit his father’s business.
On the other side of town, Kai and Galileo are battling on the back of a trash dump truck, headed for a local waste processing center. During the fight, the dump truck dropped its load and its unknown passengers into its assigned waste field, briefly giving Kai and Galileo time to catch their breath before they fought again. Steno and Hasheem were able to track down Kai, having to go through the waste center. Once they found Kai, they fought against Galileo during which Galileo got stuck in a tunnel. Hasheem, sensing an opportunity for payback, kicked Galileo in the backside. Galileo was able to get out of the tunnel and was ready to strike Hasheem until Kai distracted him from continuing the chase.
Meanwhile, Unkoi, Mera, and Skunk met with the supervisor of the subway/flood tunnel project. During the tour, the group stops on the fifth floor, and they approach a service tunnel. Mera opens it up and goes inside, not knowing that Unkoi locked the tunnel door as payback. Skunk tries to rescue Mera but is stopped by Unkoi. As Mera calls Skunk to locate his group, his phone call is picked up by a pair of Hand soldiers. One of them named Lefty recognizes Mera and he and his partner, Konpora, go after Mera. When he finds him, Lefty attempts to shoot Mera, but fails, allowing Mera to cut off Lefty’s right arm.
As a result of Mera’s action, air pressure in the service tunnel drops causing air to travel upward, knocking Konpora out of the sewer. Konpora lands in a tree and, after getting down, attempts to call Iwao. Back in the subway tunnel, Unkoi is listening, impressed by his father’s genius plan of the subway connection, when he sees Kai being chased by Galileo. Unkoi jumps off the train to pursue. With Galileo restraining Kai, Unkoi pulls out his knife, ready to kill Kai until Mera arrives, stabbing Unkoi through his chest. Galileo, seeing Unkoi stabbed, runs toward Mera, but Kai sneaks up on him and knocks him in the back of the head. After Kai and Mera recover from the battle, they go through a sewer connection only to be chased by Galileo again. He restrains Kai and motions Mera to stop his sword with the volume ending at that point.
After reading Volume 3 of Tokyo Tribes, I’m still hyped for this series. Santa Inoue’s skills of drawing and writing hit the mark, making me invested in the story of each of these “tribes.” Inoue-san took care with each character’s backstory, from Kai’s conflict with his father to Mera’s desire for power and vengeance against Kai and Bubba. I loved the backstory of Unkoi having compassion when he helped Galileo get replacement hands because of a childhood accident involving a moving train. Galileo’s steadfast loyalty to Unkoi was a calm moment in battle which spoke to me that the Wu-Ronz are not completely heartless. The excellent production is backed up by Tokyopop CEO Stuart Levy executive producing alongside Inoue-san with translation and English adaption handled by Alexis Kirsch and David Walker.
Tokyo Tribes Volume 3 has shown itself to be the wildcard setting a new level in manga. With Unkoi dead in the sewers, Saru trying to regain its footing and the Hands preparing for war, Tokyo is about to be a full-fledged warzone. Who will survive? We’ll figure this out in future volumes of Tokyo Tribes.

Brandon Beatty is editor-at-large Gaming Insurrection. He can be reached by email at brandonb@gaminginsurrection.com

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