By Patrick Wolf
I’m going to begin by listing off my top 5 favorite manga: (1) Hunter X Hunter, (2) Elfen Lied, (3) Berserk, (4) Samurai Champloo, and (5) Death Note. I’m beginning this way because I want to make two points clear: first, I want the reader to know what I consider top tier manga to be; second, if you’re familiar with any of the manga on this list, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how outstanding R: IL Persona is: it’s as good as any of the five just listed.
R: IL Persona takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where most of the world’s population has already been destroyed. What’s left of humanity has been split up into two warring faction with neither side appearing to have a significant advantage over the other. The story opens with its hero, Rade, waking up in a room full of fresh corpses only to discover he’s the killer. To make matters worse, not only has he lost his memory, but also he’s on a mission to assassinate the opposing country’s most elite soldier. Can Rade and his plucky partner, Strykes, complete their operation or will they fall victim to Rade’s amnesia?
Without a doubt, R: IL Persona is one of the best manga I’ve read since the great Japanese comics of the 90’s and early 2000’s. I can’t tell you how long I’ve waited for this. It seems like the state of manga has really deteriorated in the past decade, so it’s nice to read something that actually wants to be good. I love the story, I love the artwork, and I love the characters.
Rade and Strykes, in particular, are a great pair. I could feel the tension between them right from the first panel. But what really makes their relationship great is the banter between them: it’s just hilarious. Strykes is very funny and has a way of insulting Rade without coming off as mean-spirited. Rade is great too: he’s the perfect blend of ‘softness’ and bravery—a task that’s not easy to achieve. I can’t tell you how many manga I’ve read where the hero’s either too wimpy or too tough. R: IL Persona gets this just right.
If I had any criticism for this series it would be with the fact that most of the panels are black-and-white. This is really too bad—especially since the pages that are colored are done very beautifully. I understand why the team had to do this, though. They are a budget comic and are currently available for free on topwebcomics.com, so they have to skimp on some things.
That said, in spite of most of the pages being black-and-white, R: IL Persona is a magnificent comic and should be read by manga lovers everywhere. Right now, you can read it for free at https://www.ilpersona.com/pages/episodes and you can vote for it here http://topwebcomics.com/vote/19583. As of now, R: IL Persona is ranked as #568 on Top Web Comics, which is an absolute travesty. This comic should, at the very least, be in the top 5. If you read the first issue, I’m certain you’ll agree with me. Read this manga.
R: IL Persona Volume #1
Writer: Shaun T. Barrow
Artist: JM Valenzuela
Colorist: Ludwig Sacramento and Vocapanda
Letterer: Ludwig Sacramento and Vocapanda
Publisher: Starlight City Entertainment