Updated: Jan 19
Publisher: Yen Press (@YenPress)
Lettering: Erin Hickman
Translation: Giuseppe di Martino
The Geek Ex-Hitman vol.2 by Ko-dai
WHAT IS IT?
A notorious hitman moves to Japan after discovering the otaku* lifestyle in this action-packed slice-of-life comedy manga.
Think John Wick but instead of being a wife guy, he’s a waifu guy.
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?
Fantastico! Everyone’s favorite cold-blooded killer turned waifu guy is back and this time he’s tackling his biggest challenge yet - a con!
When Marco, a notorious hitman once known as The Oracle of Florence, discovers the wonderful world of anime, he gives up everything to relocate to Japan to embrace his newfound love of all things otaku. After duking it out with rival assassins Viviana and Andre and bonding over their shared love of the same series, the trio decides to set down their guns and pick up some pencils to create a fan comic the likes of which Japan has never seen!
With the doujinishi* completed just in time for Comic Summit, the trio of killers-turned-artists are ready to show off the fruits of their labor. Things are finally looking up for the hopeful trio when a rude cosplayer arrives at their table and begins to bother one of their customers! What else are the killers to do but step in and save the day!
You can read my review of vol.1 here.
Ko-dai’s brilliant story about a merciless hitman turned anime junkie is simply delightful. With self-aware humor and love for the world of the otaku shining through the narrative, The Geek Ex-Hitman continues to build upon its unique look at the fandom communities that make Japan so special with respect and just enough self-deprecating humor to really pack a punch.
The artwork is a highlight of this series as always. The character designs showcase the diversity of the cast yet cohesively stand beside each other with a natural style, while the sleek style and action-packed panels filled with rich blacks and beautiful movements make this manga a thrilling and enjoyable read.
Martino and Hickman had their hands full with this dialogue and sound effect heavy volume! Balancing several Japanese terms with the back and forth of the characters speaking Japanese and Italian, as well as the large amount of sound effects in the action sequences, couldn’t have been an easy task but everything is clearly legible, easy to read, and the translation notes in the back are always a welcomed addition.
The action is outstanding. The fight sequences are well choreographed and illustrated, and several of them highlight Viviana and newcomer Mei, which makes for some great female-centered action that gets just as bloody and intense as the boys.
The introduction of Gregorio, Marco’s ex-partner, is a brilliant choice. His addition adds another layer of humor and complexity to Marco’s arc that elevates our main character’s narrative to a whole new level.
I love Viviana's character. She's the perfect level of unhinged both as a fan and as a fighter. She pulls off a feminine style that aims to protect and uplift women while still managing to uphold that strong female archetype that tips slightly over the edge into manic without coming across as cringe or forced in the process.
There’s an entire chapter dedicated to karaoke and Viviana’s attempts at creating a BL moment between Marco and Andre and it is hysterical. I have not laughed that hard reading a chapter of a manga in a long time.
This second volume starts to delve into Marco’s past which helps round out his character, adding depth to his merciless occupation and the peaceful new life that he seems desperate to uphold.
The minor characters really get the chance to shine in this volume. Building upon the foundations set previously, as well as some great introductory scenes for the new additions, we get to see the supporting cast shine with moments that enhance their defining traits with humor and excellent action.
WHAT DOESN’T WORK?
CW: Strong, graphic violence, strong language, mild sexual themes.
As with the first vol., there are inconsistencies in the formatting of the speech meant to be in Italian. At times the sentences are placed between brackets, at times they aren’t, which can make it a bit hard to catch onto which language the characters are supposed to be speaking. What makes it even more confusing is that both formats are used when the location is obviously Italy, so it’s a weird design choice.
There are a lot of anime and otaku lifestyle references throughout and those who aren’t heavily involved in those worlds may not be able to fully understand or appreciate a lot of the jokes. It is definitely a niche title.
The Geek Ex-Hitman art and story by Ko-dai
WHY SHOULD I READ IT?
A standout series of not just Yen Press’ lineup but the manga world in general for the 2022 catalogue, The Geek Ex-Hitman once again delivers with a phenomenally funny and well-rounded second volume. Brand new characters help amp up the comedy and brutality, while running jokes continue to build upon themselves with each new chapter. The sharp blacks, slick assassin-aesthetics, and obvious love for the lifestyle shine through in this ridiculously fun manga title.
From karaoke nights to collectible hunting, summer festivals to chaotic cons and beyond, The Geek Ex-Hitman channels everything you love about slice-of-life titles with the action and style of IPs John Wick and the Hitman games. If you’re an anime junkie who loves a good laugh with your bloodshed, I cannot recommend this title enough.
HOW DO I READ IT?
The image(s) used in this article are from a comic strip, webcomic or the cover or interior of a comic book. The copyright for this image(s) is likely owned by either the publisher of the comic, the writer(s) and/or artist(s) who produced the comic. It is believed that the use of this image(s) qualifies as fair use under the United States copyright law. The image is used in a limited fashion in an educational manner in order to illustrate the points of the author and not for the purpose of entertainment or substituting the original work. It is believed the use of this image has had no impact on the market value of the original work.
All Ko-dai characters and the distinctive likeness(es) thereof are trademarks of and copyright Ko-dai or their respective owners. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
*Otaku - someone so addicted to a certain aspect of pop culture that it becomes detrimental, usually used in reference to fans of anime and manga.
*doujinshi - a fan-made manga or novel based on a pre-exisiting IP.