Ray Vol. 1

By Akihito Yoshitomi
208 pages, black and white
Published by ADV Manga

Some comics show their hand in the first couple of pages; everything’s spelled out for you and you know exactly what you’re getting. Then there are comics that sneak up on you, slowly pulling you into their clutches with each new piece of information and plot twist revealed. It’s the latter that Akihito Yoshitomi’s Ray falls into; at the end of the first chapter, I wasn’t entirely sure about the book, but by the end of the book, I was most definitely hooked.

Ray is a nurse at a clinic in Tokyo, and to the average person’s eyes she looks and acts completely normal. Of course, Ray herself doesn’t have an average person’s eyes at all; hers are bionic, ones that give her x-ray vision and help her become an expert surgeon. She doesn’t perform ordinary operations, or even ones that she can talk about in public. And all the while, she’s slowly gathering information about the secret organization that took her original eyes from her…

When Ray first opens, Yoshitomi plays the book as a medical thriller, with Ray being brought in to operate on a member of a band of fugitives and a clock ticking away the amount of time left with each passing second. It’s not until the end of that first story that Ray’s abilities are first revealed, and it’s even further in before you start learning about how Ray lost her eyes at the horrific organ farm that she and other children were raised in. As the book progresses, the individual stories start getting more interesting (a sentient tumor that evades removal, a young girl who demands someone give up their heart to replace hers, a seemingly possessed girl determined to wipe out an entire clinic), and the overall greater story picks up as well. We start getting hints about the organization that runs the organ farm, a supporting cast gets built up, and by the end of the first volume we’ve seen a major strike concerning… well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it? Let’s just say that Yoshitomi has paced Ray perfectly, each chapter building on and improving from the previous one. That’s the kind of progression that’s going to pull readers in.

Yoshitomi’s art in Ray is ultimately… just all right. It’s a shame that the most striking piece of art is on the cover, using just a couple of colors to have the figure of (an uncharacteristically scantily-dressed) Ray really stand out, while a muted scene of the organ farm is displayed behind her. The art on the inside of the book is pretty average, with a lot of the minor characters all blurring together in a homogenized look; there were times in the first chapter where I couldn’t tell who was Ray and who was a member of the gang. The art itself is paced pretty well, though, good at showing the reveals in just the right manner as one surprise after another is unleashed on the audience. In the end, the art is just a tool used to get Yoshitomi’s interesting story ideas across to the audience; nothing more, nothing less.

I was really pleasantly surprised with how much I liked Ray Vol. 1. The main character of Ray is an interesting one, and as the information about her past is revealed her thirst for revenge is both understandable and realistic. It’s a fun, tense book, and I think it’s going to quietly pull in a lot of readers once they understand how much fun it is. Ray is definitely worth eyeballing; you’ll quickly see just how good it really is.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com

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