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  • Writer's pictureJude

Manga: Shamo

He knew himself a villain—but he deem’d The rest no better than the thing he seem’d; And scorn’d the best as hypocrites who hid Those deeds the bolder spirit plainly did. He knew himself detested, but he knew The hearts that loath’d him, crouch’d and dreaded too. Lone, wild, and strange, he stood alike exempt From all affection and from all contempt –          Lord Byron

What occurs when life itself refuses you? When you amount to being all that encompasses the ill behaviour of Humanity, which is discarded by the idea of being Humane. It is insane for many to proclaim that morality has no aim. Nevertheless I believe it is true, and this aim inspires us to punish those who do not flourish under the veil of being moral.

Shamo is a manga that continuously questions morality. From the first chapter you are dragged into moral debate, greeted by violence, madness and a feeling of repulsion for the protagonist. The manga follows Ryo Harushima, a boy who is sent through the scenes of inhumanity and attempts to survive it all by answering with violence and sheer immorality.

Despite the abundance of violence, a large part of it is dedicated to Martial Arts – which adds an interesting twist to the otherwise intentionally harmful approach most Characters take. Whilst entertaining morals, it also shows the hardships of stigma, the irremovable association with your previous actions.

I adored this manga, it is one of my favourites. Perspective is not as concrete, like a flip of a coin – you do not know where it will land in every step Ryo takes. I sympathised and at times wholeheartedly supported Ryo, which may sound common with main characters –yet I feel this Character is way more a villain than hero.

Having experienced similar things to Ryo, such as his propensity to engage in violence, react angrily – being an outcast within Society by some sort of exclusion, and in general feeling at home within darkness by depression it sparked that sympathy. However, that dissolved when I witnessed him partake in something I disagree with.

Such a disagreement tells the tale of the manga, attempting to put a Societal leash on an animal – the Human animal which has been psychologically damaged. Something important for me to remember whilst reading such a Manga is that it shows you the side of Human beings which we have cast away, for a stable, functional Society.

This pretentious Society masks the fact that we are incapable of actions we have painted evil, in turn preventing people from achieving in this life. This troublesome topic of morality is similarly problematic as the entire Manga, even the creation – which had multiple hiatuses due to creation claims.

As you can probably tell, I wrote this short suggestion attempting to avoid spoilers. My final comments, this is a brilliant Manga. Dark and realistic, though heartwarming and encouraging – I can still sense the bitterness amounted from jealousy of success. Life is unfortunate in the dark.

You can read Shamo here:

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