Smokin' Paradise Vol. 1 TP
Publisher: Yen Press
Release Date: February 21, 2017
Price: $13.00
Creator(s): Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondou
Format: 192 pgs., Black & White, Trade Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-3165-5333-9
Age Rating: 16+
ICv2 Rating: 3 Stars out of 5

As a rule, I don't usually have a problem when a manga series decides to be violent and weird.  Sometimes it can make for an incredibly gripping story that makes me want to keep going and rapidly turn each page to see what kind of bizarre twist is going to happen next.  However the first volume of Smokin' Paradise breaks that rule by being weird and violent for absolutely no reason other than to simply do it.

In this series from creators Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondou (creators of Deadman Wonderland), the story centers on a young man named Youkou who loves and cares for his wheelchair-bound younger sister.  Thanks to advances in medical technology though, his sister Mirai is now able to stand on her own two feet thanks to a special operation developed by the Amenotori company.  Unfortunately there is a catch with this operation; a very small percentage of the people who have it will end up becoming brutal, psychotic killers.

After he comes home one day to discover that his sister has murdered her best friends (and a pizza delivery guy just because), he is knocked out only to wake up completely dismembered.  Luckily for him his life isn't over yet as there is an elite squad of mercenaries known as the Jackalopes who are out to destroy the poor victims of the operation's side effects and expose the truth behind the company that created the procedure in the first place.

Smokin' Paradise is a series that will either win or lose readers within a single chapter.  In the first chapter alone, readers will be treated to spilled guts, sliced throats, amputations, and if that isn't enough violence, there is a panel which featured severed fingers being used as birthday cake candles.

As mentioned earlier, this is a title that will go to extreme lengths to grab readers’ attention and those that enjoy ruthless violence might find something here that they won't be able to turn away from.  However, many readers will find this to be grotesque for no reason other than for shock value which will turn this into a pointless first volume.

-- L.B. Bryant