“Like a Crow, I’ve got restless wings; as soon as I’m sick of this place, I’m out! But until then, this is my place. Anyone who tries to mess with me is asking for it!”
Hello people. Today I will be doing the first manga review of this site, and I’ve chosen to write about one of my favorite manga ever. However, and don’t take this the wrong way, but you’ve probably never heard of it, let alone read it before. The manga in question is Hiroshi Takahashi’s Crows.
Now to describe Crows in a general manner is a bit difficult for me, simply because I can’t think of an analogous example in Western media. Suffice it to say that Crows is a “delinquent manga”, as in a manga where the central focus is on juvenile delinquents. Now you might be wondering to yourself, “Why would anyone write a manga about juvenile delinquents?” My answer to you is, “Why would anyone write or buy 35 different manga about people getting stuck in video games?” Whether or not there are 35 is something I do not know, but I can think of at least 5 off the top of my head, which seems like 4 too many.
Either way, this type of manga does exist, and while not as frequent as they used to be, they are still being made every now and then. The focus of the delinquent manga is on the daily lives and antics of a small group of central characters, or a single main character, and specifically their relationships and interactions with other characters of similar nature. Typically that nature is aggressive, non-conciliatory, and territorial. Essentially, delinquents are all looking for a fight, whether it be to fend off rival groups of delinquents or simply to cure boredom. While this may sound a little too crude to be the premise of a manga, keep in mind that the stories, characters and lives are all romanticized, which may seem strange but after all this is the way of manga, and more generally of popular media depicting things that would seem unrealistic or unappealing in practicality.
With all of that aside, let’s talk about Crows. Crows follows the journey of Bouya Harumichi, a fun-loving, lazy transfer student at the disreputable Suzuran High School. Bouya, unbeknownst to him, is about to enter one of the most divided and notorious delinquent schools in the country. It has some of the toughest bad-asses, the hardest-fought rivalries and various warring factions all looking to seize control of the school and stand on top as the strongest. Little did the school know that it was in for a storm greater than they could’ve imagined, and that storm came in the form of one Bouya Harumichi.
While the fighting between people in the manga is completely unrefined and basically amounts to a bunch of clotheslines, headbutts, hair pulling, sumo and judo-inspired tossing, and the occasional amateur boxing, it still feels very intense and very nice to follow. This is probably because we understand that, at the core of it, these fighters, these powerhouses, are just high schoolers. They are hardly professional fighters. In that way, their fights are simply a reflection of their spirit and passion. Direction, focus or discipline are not part of the equation, and so the fights feel simply like a clashing of waves, and you hope that your favorite wave will come back to swing another blow.
In many ways, the struggles of the characters in this manga harkens back to themes of American gangster and “delinquent” culture, as depicted by people like James Dean. “Rebel without a cause” is a phrase which fits the bill when thinking of how to summarize the intentions behind decisions or scenarios in this genre of manga, not just Crows. They are not fighting for someone or something in particular. Sometimes it can be attributed to something like petty revenge for some sleight, but otherwise it feels like fights need no provocation to begin.
I am strangely captivated by Crows in particular, and I’ve tried to understand why exactly this is the case. I do not believe my fascination stems from some superiority complex I have when witnessing a bunch of “cultureless, undriven young people fighting senselessly”, and I enjoy watching simply for the amusement I gain from the spectacle. I really hope this is not the case, because that most certainly would be a bad look for me.
I know for a fact that I was highly intrigued by something very interesting that happens in the story. As time passes for the main cast of characters whom we see at the beginning of the story, there comes a point where a year has passed. For high schoolers at Suzuran, that means one thing: fresh meat is on the way. New up-and-coming, power-hungry, ambitious, young whippersnappers are on their way to seize power. It introduces a whole cast of unique characters, each with their own ambitions and backstories, bonds and rivalries. What makes it really interesting is how we spent the entire time watching this main cast “achieve” victory and become stronger and more established (if that is the right word to use when it comes to beating up people from other schools), and now we see them in a “senior” role, as they watch essentially a replay of themselves in the past coming to challenge them. It is very cool thing that I haven’t really seen before in other manga or anime, and it results in a great deal of character development and, more importantly, creates avenues in the readers mind that enable them to imagine a whole host of new and intriguing story paths for these new characters.
I would definitely recommend Crows to everyone, as it is a fun read with a huge cast of cool characters and genuinely decent stories and character development. At its core, it is a simple story about restless people trying to make their way in a world where they don’t fit in, running wild with their youthful spirit. This manga simply catalogs the clashes that these restless youths have with each other.
Thanks for reading, “My Lovely Brats!”, and have a great day!
And we winkin’.