Bored and browsing through the manga section of a local Barnes & Noble today, I picked up a copy of a manga I hadn't really heard of called 10 Beautiful Assassins. It seemed rather interesting and now that I've skimmed through the manga I think it was actually worth spending money on. From what I've gleaned, it's an Original English Language manga (though arranged in right-to-left style). The story involves a thief named Bernie who poses as the driver of the daughter of a Richard Branson lookalike in order to steal a valuable necklace while she's touring Cannes. However, Bernie runs into several problems: He's kind of awkward around women (it even says so on the back cover), the necklace gets stolen from him by a rival female thief, and the rich guy suspects Bernie of working with her.
So not-Branson calls upon the leader of M.A.D.A.M. (Mistresses of Assasination, Destruction, And Mayhem) to get back the necklace and kill the thieves, and she obliges by sending the 10 Beautiful Assassins (dun-dun-dunnnnn) after them. Ranging from the dominatrix and the biker chick to the French maid and the policewoman, all of them are tasked with hunting down Bernie. It's kind of like a harem comedy, if the harem was trying to kill the main hero all at once instead of throwing themselves all over him. I don't want to spoil too much for the few of you who might actually be tempted to go out and buy a copy of this thing. However, if you can deal with the (tongue-in-cheek?) stereotypes there's plenty of stuff to like in what I call this inverted harem comedy. There's action, there's romance, there's a bunch of violent, beautiful women for the average self-styled otaku to ogle...what's not to like?
If there's one thing that irked me about the book it's that the middle of the book kinda flip-flops around with the chronology of the story, where it becomes difficult to tell what's being told in flashback mode and what's being told in the present. Also, the liberal use of chibis throughout the manga. I can understand the need for comedic effect but it was kinda blunted by the over-saturation of the midgets where it became a bit annoying.
When I say "buy it while you can," I guess I should also mention that I just found out this is a Seven Seas Manga, and an original IP (intellectual property) at that. If you've seen their track record with other original IPs like No Man's Land, Blade for Barter or Dead Already (to name a few), they have a habit of lasting just one or two volumes before being strangled in their crib. Maybe it's Seven Seas fault for not making enough copies available or for having crappy distribution, maybe the company is bleeding cash (a charge that has neither been confirmed nor denied), maybe the PR needs some work or maybe the market for manga in America is slowing down...
Whatever the reason, if you're at all interested in buying this manga, you should probably do it while the books are still on the shelves.