Review: Yakuza Moon Manga


Rape, drugs, gangsters, tattoos and beatings are the five-tool topics of of shit that you’ll run through in the manga adaptation of the novel, Yakuza Moon.

I read the book written by Shoko Tendo years ago and was moved by the honesty and openness in telling her life’s story as a strung out, glue sniffing daughter of a once successful and then financially struggling yakuza. The story and tale practically fit into any Japanophiles conception of what dirty Japan could be like but with more twists.

The street life story isn’t unique, except that in Japan, you might think of teen sex or suicides as common, but harsh vein popping drugs? Definitely less. The manga was released in 2011 and it recounts the lowlights of her life. From shooting up and having sex with yakuza men, to being raped, and then practically prostituting herself to keep her parents out of the debt collectors hands was shocking. She was the recipient of apartments by richer married men – something that now happens in China. Tendo writes about the late 80s period when Japan was carefree and rich to just a few years later when the bubble burst. The carefree drug sprees became dirty, seedy and desperate.

Even when you think Tendo is getting better, her life doesn’t improve at all. She goes through men as a stepping stone to find herself – they’re all crappy like her dad.

The art is what I’d sort of expect. It’s fairly regular mature manga drawing style, but I would have liked to have seen something more indie that captures the grit of her life. The story was done well. The poignant moments were culled from the book and it made the story roll through with Tendo’s tremendous lows. It’s a painful read, but I’ll imagine the hell life is behind Shoko Tendo in 2011.