It’s so bad, that there is a classification system just to distinguish between the numerous swindlers. You’ve got your shirosagi, also known as white swindlers, who hunt for money. Then you have the akasagi, or red swindlers, who also hunt for money but their prey consists of the opposite sex. At the top of the food chain you have the "fixers" who obtain the necessary properties, holdings and other financial good stuff that swindlers would put to their advantage. Obviously you have shirosagi and akasagi that are better (or worse) than others that practice the same craft. But, there is a rumored “hidden” class – a group of master swindlers that, for whatever reason, aren’t content with us saps. No, these “black” swindlers, these…kurosagi… look for more enticing prey…like their own kind.
That is the world found in the manga, Kurosagi. Written by Takeshi Natsuhara and drawn by Kuromaru, Kurosagi follows the shady deals, swindles and scams perpetrated by Kurosagi. Our aptly named protagonist is a twenty-something year old adult who knows the tricks of the trade, hunting only the swindlers that prey upon the unsuspecting public with abandon. Why pick on his own kind, you ask? Well, like most scum, swindlers don’t care about the consequences of their actions. In Kurosagi’s case, faced with crippling debt, his father decided that suicide was the best way out. Thinking only the best for his family, he also kills his wife and daughter before facing the Grim Reaper himself.
…Hey, it’s not my fault he thought that Slankets would be a good investment.
While most human beings would have snapped, Kurosagi decided to not become a charity case and single-handily tracks down the shirosagi who swindled his father. His research leads him to the fixer who devised and sold the swindle to the shirosagi and swears vengeance upon him. Six years later, the two are business acquaintances – the fixer supplies Kurosagi with the info, plots and financial holdings needed to pull off the swindle.
Kurosagi has made a strong running in the realm of manga, ever since it came onto the field back in 2004. It even tied with Bambino! for the 2008 Shogakukan Manga Award in the seinen/general category. The selling point of Kurosagi is not the storyline itself but the premise and back story that creates the world that Kurosagi operates in. We already know what one of the big plot points will be – the eventual showdown between the fixer and Kurosagi. Until then we get to see how Kurosagi and the fixer operate.
Character-wise, Kurosagi has given us some interesting individuals of which the majority walks the proverbial moral tightrope. Kurosagi and the fixer, Katsuragi Toshio, are solid characters on their own. We also have Kashima Masaru, the new inspector of the intellectual crimes department. A man obsessed with Kurosagi, he touts a strict line when it comes to swindlers. His fervor makes you wonder if he wouldn’t outright break the law to get the job done. Rounding out our little quartet is Yoshikawa Tsurara, who plays the ethical foil to Kurosagi in this manga. Seeing the effects of swindling firsthand, her goal is to become a prosecutor that specializes in taking down swindlers.
Kurosagi does have some weak points. While the setup for Kurosagi is interesting, there seems to be a lack of movement towards the plot points set up by the back story. So far, the biggest reveal has been that there are other kurosagis in play, one of which has actually bested our own Kurosagi. For the majority of the series, Kurosagi has followed arcs that, while engaging, have little or nothing to do with the overall plot.
In regards to the art, mangaka Kuromaru’s style varies between pages. At times, though the design is simplistic and light, Kuromaru’s art is detailed and varied. This is best seen towards the beginning and end of a chapter, and also at any dramatic point. Yet there are times where the pages lack detail and suitable background. This is usually perpetrated in scenes inside office buildings and such. It changes from items missing that would “depict a room” to distinguish a room from a rectangle. Kuromaru’s character models suffer from having the same base being too noticeable. While there is nothing truly wrong with that (in my opinion) it’s a bit annoying to notice that I could switch hairstyles with an extra and a main character and see no difference.
All in all, if you’re looking for ways to stab people in the back, I wholefully recommend Kurosagi. Just don’t try it on me – I’m a horrible target.