If Fate/Zero’s Castor is the kind of villain you like, have I got a manga for you. Remember those juvenile/loli assassin twins in Black Lagoon? Mardock Scramble‘s Balot took the advanced course.
Volume two picks up right where volume one left off, facing Boiled, Oefcocque’s former partner, Oefcocque’s nightmare.
Balot, using her powers (perhaps inadvertently), catches a glimpse of Oefcocque’s memories, and the fight with Boiled awaken something in Balot, giving her a reason to live, and a reason to surprise Boiled with her capabilities.
Balot decides to partner with Oefcocque.
The story is grim: Balot’s life, before Oefcocque and Easter rescued her, was not a happy one. Flashbacks in this volume tell us why she had no desire to survive in the preceding volume, but seem more humanizing than dehumanizing: with the help of Oefcocque, Balot is learning to be human again. We learn a bit more about the madness behind Shell’s method, and we see him unleash four horrors to track down Balot and kill her.
There’s some truly creepy stuff implied here. The art is reminiscent of Mohiro Kitoh’s (Narutaru, Bokurano),especially when she draws Balot. Her action scenes are dynamic without turning into a muddle of speed-lines. Some of the brutality is horrific, but fortunately not dwelled upon nor drenched in blood — a good deal of it is left to your imagination.
I have not read the novel. This manga version stands on its own, and is excellent story-telling, and excellent art. I look forward to the next volume. Fortunately, Kodansha is bringing the volumes out every two months, and the next one will be released in early December (this coming Tuesday, as it happens).