|Tsukasa Hojo (1986?)|
Ryo Saeba & Kaori Makimura
Cover art for issue 11, Italian numbering
Japanese manga artist Tsukasa Hojo has been one of the most influential writers from 1980's to the 90's.
Cat's Eye. A series that featured three sisters who operate a café during the day, and worked as thieves during the night: their father has disappeared and they are trying to recollect his art work to decode a message. The second manga was City Hunter, whose two main characters you can see in the picture. The story talks about Ryo Saeba, a sweeper in Tokyo, whose partner Hideyuki Makimura dies and afterwards he takes in his sister Kaori. The two fall in love, however Ryo denies all of his feelings. All of this because he wants a better life for Kaori: being private investigators, assassins for hire isn't every father's dream for their children. To understand the picture you need to understand one character: Ryo. He keeps pushing Kaori away and acting as if she was the last person on the planet he could ever be attracted to. That is why on the picture you see her as a sex symbol as she hugs herself and pushes her breasts up a bit. Yet Ryo keeps staring at his lighter. He is a big time smoker, so the lighter is one of the few accessories that is never missing from his pocket. You can also see that a light shines on Kaori, while Ryo stands in the shadow. This is because unlike Ryo, she still has a chance for a better life, while being brought up among soldiers on the battlefield - there is really nothing else he can do as a profession. The picture also recreates Kaori's feeling of being completely alone while there is someone standing right next to her.
Angel Heart: set in an alternate universe where Kaori dies and her heart is transplanted into a young girl, Shan In. She has the same past as Ryo, being brought up as an assassin, but she wants to get out of this lifestyle. Ryo adopts her so Kaori's heart stays near him and he gives a chance for Shan In to have a life where she is surrounded by family instead of assassins.
I am huge comic book geek (as you can find out from by blog), however City Hunter is my absolutely favorite manga of all time. It has the most charismatic characters ever drawn on paper and some of the best adventures. I also love detective stories and these are spiced with romantic features just enough to satisfy the female, without losing the male audience. I think of it as a classic, and so far everything categorized as such is considered to be excellent. Trust me: this manga qualifies perfectly.