In 2048, Tokyo has become the terminus of the Eurasian railroad, bringing in criminals and illegal immigrants from across the continent. Gang violence rubs shoulders with cutting-edge technology. The rails are ruled by AEE Cybernetics, a juggernaut of a megacorp that ruthlessly swallows its competitors. From this morass emerges Origin, a prototype artificial human made by “Father,” who perished in a possible act of sabotage, leaving behind nine androids of incredible strength and speed. Hearing rumors of brutalized corpses, Origin infiltrates a gang and discovers that his eight fellow robots are killing humans. Superior to humans in every way, they can effortlessly dismember anyone who crosses them. Origin, the sole recipient of Father’s dying wish to “live a good life,” has decided that this means living as a human, a choice the other eight don’t take kindly to.
Life as a robot isn’t all hyper-violence and gorgeously drawn fight scenes, though. Origin secures a job at AEE Cybernetics, primarily for access to replacement parts, but also as a means of fitting in. He gets to know his coworkers, all of whom are genius robotics students. One of them, Mai Hirose, clocks that Origin is using a language program she designed, since she based it on her own speech patterns. Much of the comic relief comes from Origin’s efforts to avoid being exposed and his attempts to mimic normal human reactions to situations, many of which amusingly backfire.
Boichi does an excellent job of balancing kinetic fight scenes with character development and human (and robot) drama. The art is reminiscent of Gantz, but while Gantz is stiff as a steel girder, Boichi brings fluidity to his realism, giving personality to the characters and flow to the panels. The cross hatching and incredible detail suggest a European comics flair. But the book isn’t just pretty to look at; it has a substantial story propelled by excellent plotting and interesting characters. The insights into how Origin and his fellow robots think are fascinating, especially when they have to live alongside ordinary humans. Boichi crafts a smart futuristic thriller with an interesting premise and delivers it with skill. Recommended.
Story and Art: Boichi