WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Masasumi Kakizaki's manga Green Blood.
Fans of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure know that Jotaro Kujo is based on Clint Eastwood, who played the iconic Man with No Name in Sergio Leone's Dollars Trilogy, and Hirohiko Araki, the creator of JoJo's, actually met Eastwood in 2012. This direct tie between JoJo's and the Western genre is intriguing on its own, but it's the swashbuckling atmosphere of Parts 1 and 2 that Western fans might particularly enjoy. The confident masculinity of the Joestars, especially the brand flaunted by Jonathan and Joseph, is surprisingly reminiscent of that belonging to the rootin'-tootin' cowboys of days gone by.
The Old West is a distinctly American setting, and only a handful of anime and manga set their stories in the American frontier. However, many are heavily influenced by the Western genre. Cowboy Bebop is a quintessential space Western in which the bounty hunters cross an expansive frontier in spaceships instead of on horseback. Even Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust has its own unique Western setting. More than just space exploration and vampires, these stories satisfy our cravings for adventure and action the same way sea-faring pirates and daring knights do. Masasumi Kakizaki's manga Green Blood is another such title.
Published in Kodansha's Weekly Young Magazine, Green Blood is a genuine Western that portrays similar characters and themes in a considerably darker context. It follows two brothers who live in the Five Points of New York City after the American Civil War. The younger brother, Luke, is the kind but hard worker who despises the gangs that maintain their chokehold on the city, exploiting and killing whoever they please. The older brother, Brad, makes his money working as a hitman for one of the worst gangs around, with his ultimate goal being to hunt down their morally corrupt and murderous father.
Green Blood confronts readers with difficult conversations surrounding race, discrimination, poverty, and the corruption of the American Dream, which sets it apart from more playful series like JoJo's. The story does not shy away from pointing out the poor treatment of African-Americans and Irish immigrants in America, and provides a shocking portrayal of the crime-ridden Five Points. From a technical standpoint, Green Blood flaunts impressive artwork and historical awareness, and Kakizaki is especially known for his series Rainbow, which has received an anime adaptation.
Hopefully charming cowboys, intimidating outlaws, and the Old West will have another chance to shine, as the genre truly does lend itself to some creative stories. A great example is Netflix's The Harder They Fall, which highlights the lesser-known history of Black cowboys and reopens many of the same conversations Green Blood does. Fans of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure might consider giving Green Blood a read if they're interested in macho men with a strong sense of justice -- and the prowess to back up their convictions.
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