PolyNerdic Review: Rai Volume 1: Welcome to New Japan

RAI_TPB_001_COVER_CRAIN

Prior to its arrival in the January Comic Bento I had never heard of the Rai series and having finished this book I can honestly say I’m a little disappointed in myself for having missed it.

Written my Matt Kindt (whom I last read in my lest favorite volume of Suicide Squad) and with art by Clayton Crain, Rai is set in the distant future.  A future in which the nation of Japan in more space station than country, and is ruled by the omnipotent AI program known as Father.  The populace of New Japan consist of human beings and their “robot” Companions, artificial beings that everyone is given when they are 16 in order to deal with human conditions like loneliness while also curbing the problem of uncontrolled population growth.

New Japan appears to be a utopia but is rife with discord, everything from issues with classism to questions of whether the companions are “people” to groups rebelling against the established order.  Defending the status quo and Father’s ideals is the folk hero Rai, a figure that some believe is nothing more than a mere myth.  Rai is called upon to investigate the first murder in over a thousand years and Father’s false utopia is far from the only thing in danger of shattering

As the plot unfolds you find that the world is a much darker place than it initially appears and that almost no one appears worthy of trust and it makes for a fantastic read.

Call it neo-noir or future noir but the story of Rai scratched an itch I didn’t know I even had.  I found myself fighting to put the book down, trying hard to resist the urge to tear through it in a single sitting as I wanted to savor the book and make it last. When it was over I was immediately disappointed that my time with the characters had come to an end.  I found the slow unraveling of the facade of New Japan and the revelations within to be absolutely gripping and the artwork to be largely beautiful in a dark way.

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Typical of comic’s in general, the book ends in a bit of a cliffhanger and I desperately look forward to spending more time in Kindt and Crain’s world as soon as I have the opportunity to pick up the next volumes.  I want to know more of this messed up world and

I am not a fan of anime but I feel that it will largely appeal to that crowd.  I happened to love it as a fan of noir and mystery works along with the great martial arts style action.  If any of that applies to you, I’m confident that you’ll enjoy this book.

Final Verdict: 8 out 10

-Shad (@PolyNerdic)

 

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