Have you ever wondered what early Berserk would be like if the Black Swordsman were actually black, the demons he fought were members of the KKK, and the whole thing was set in the American southwest of 1880? Well, Blaster Knuckle is the answer you your questions.
Blaster Knuckle is one of those novelty manga that no matter whether it’s any good or not, is going to get it’s own little cult fanbase just for being what it is. The plot is as follows – Victor Freeman is a former heavyweight boxer whose father was killed by the KKK when he was young. However, Victor knows the secret behind the KKK – it is headed by half-vampire half-warewolf demons that eat humans. Because black people are prejudiced against, they are easy to be hunted and killed and not missed, so the monsters mainly feed on them. Victor is out to destroy these monsters one at a time on his endless quest for vengeance.
Because the beasts he fights are immortal, he has to blow up their heads to kill them, which he does with his badass fucking shotgun glove loaded with silver shells. When he kills the demons, though, they become regular human corpses, so the world knows him as a murderer and there is a huge bounty on his head. Therefor, Victor walks a lone road, taking the pain of being hunted and the burden of vengeance onto himself. Of course, like Gatts, he’s way too badass to mind.
The manga is only 3 volumes long, so the plot is pretty basic, but it does enough in that time to have a decent variety, not outstay it’s welcome, and leave a great taste in your mouth. It’s mostly about Victor Freeman being insanely badass, blowing off peoples heads, and freeing his fellow black man. The depiction of 1880’s American life is actually pretty researched and accurate aside from the, like, demons. Some fun side characters are introduced, and the ending is significantly epic. Interestingly, a lot of the plot is actually withheld for the later parts so that you only really get the full picture in the end. So, while the plot isn’t particularly deep or complex, it’s more than good enough to stand up to the novelty value and make it worth reading all three volumes and keeping it memorable.
The artwork in Blaster Knuckle is about as good as it really needs to be. It takes the usual seinen route of more realistic characters and more grotesquely detailed monsters. Victor Freeman is a badass, but he looks EXACTLY like Gatts from Berserk, only black. Even the Blaster Knuckle could be called a sort of copy of Gatts’ arm canon. What’s really important, though, is that Wazarai Shizuya knows how to draw some badass fight scenes. The fights flow well and are a ton of fun, especially because of Victor’s boxing style that gives an extra level of cool to the fights, like you can tell he knows what he’s doing. And while Victor is absurdly powerful, he does get kicked around enough that the battles don’t feel totally one-sided. Towards the end, there get to be some especially great fights when Victor and one of his com padres are taking out hordes of enemies.
And of course, seeing as how we’re dealing with demons and shotguns, there is bound to be a decent amount of gore. Blaster Knuckle does have some shock value moments, though they are more or less justified by the plot. That said, there’s nothing more fun than showing off some of the crazier pages.
It’s a shame that this manga is almost totally unheard of and will likely never, ever make it to America, because I would love to own it. Even if the main draw is the novelty, I do think it’s more than fun and cool enough to re-read, which just makes it that much more awesome. It’s one of those manga you simply can’t help but love no matter how silly it is. Even though you can never find it in America, it is actually fully scanslated thanks to a group that formed just to release this manga, and is findable right on MangaFox (which is good because I’ve been too lazy to download the series for like 2 years now, lol.) It’s more than worth reading if you’re like me and always wanted to see more black people in manga, or if you just generally like absurd gore, badass dudes, and crazy action fun.
Final Score – 7.6