This short manga series kicks off with a surprising twist. The main character, Jintetsu--a young masterless swordsman with a price on his head and vengeance in his heart--is killed on page 6. When he's brought back to life by a mysterious amateur inventor in a shabby, gadget-filled hut, it is with no voice, a few new artificial limbs, and a metal "mask". As he sets out with his not-always-tactful talking sword and nigh-indestructible body to carry out his benefactor's and then his own revenge, Jintetsu faces not only blade-wielding gangsters and corrupt officials, but the darkness and pain in his own still very human heart.
The art in this series is messy and inky and a perfect fit for the raw, poignant story and its scarred protagonist. The scratchy, sometimes rough, sometimes delicate linework mitigates the violence and further conveys Jintetsu's combination of physical strength and emotional vulnerability. His small stature, reserved nature, and near-silence (his thoughts only being heard when his sword is near enough to speak on his behalf) set him apart from the plucky young heroes of many shonen (or boys' action) manga popular today. Jintetsu must deal with his past, all the while trying to learn how to navigate his new existence as someone no longer dead (and yet not entirely alive, either). He must learn to trust people again--and to let himself be trusted. There's heart here, and depth. And I can't wait for the next volume.