Original run 2008 -2016
Published by Kodansha
” A mangaka gets embroiled in a series of suspenseful events in search for the true meaning behind his character”
…Is a bizarre story of a bat, who also happens to be a reputed private detective. Billy’s adventure begins when he one day receives a surprise request from a troubled dog wanting him to investigate who his wife is cheating on him with. Little does Billy know however, that his case will ultimately drag him into a dangerous conflict with Soviet Union spies!!!
Art imitates life?
…If you steal work from Osamu Tezuka, you’re in for a whole world of pain…?
This week’s manga is so full of surprises, that it’s actually rather hard to describe this meticulously crafted story in a way that does it justice.
Kevin Yamagata is a Japanese-American comic artist living in California. With his successful comic, ‘Billy Bat’ coming to a close, he seems to have trouble writing the perfect ending.
At the height of his self-doubt, Kevin finds himself suddenly visited by some police detectives who wish to use his apartment window to spy on the building opposite his on the suspicion that a Russian spy might be living there.
Having nothing to do with him, Kevin allows the detectives to use his premises as he goes back to finishing his work. It’s at this moment that one of the detectives points out that his ‘Billy Bat’ character already exists in Japan.
With every artist’s worst nightmare looking to come true, Kevin faces the unexpected inevitability of going back to Japan and asking the original creator for permission to use his character.
Tracking down the artist however, proves to be much harder than he anticipates. Little does he know that the meaning behind his ‘Bat’ could very well lead him down a dangerous path filled with adventure and corruption that poses a threat to his very life!
So, what is the real meaning of ‘Billy Bat’, and can Kevin make it out of his predicament in one piece?
As expected of Naoki Urasawa, his love for storytelling can be keenly felt through this intricately written, mystery-packed ride of a manga. Known internationally as one of the masters of complex stories, is hard to believe that his beginnings were far from that.
With a huge admiration for Osamu Tezuka, a firm will to improve himself and become a professional mangaka, he asked advice to many in the business, until one day he got the advice of a pro telling him to start from the basics, draw many yonkomas first.
From that point Urasawa sensei started drawing daily yonkoma manga, eventually masterings the technique, years later he is know in japan as the “Master of kishotenketsu”.
Starting with a classic detective story about a hard-boiled detective that goes all out to solve his client’s cases, to an ‘Art imitates life’ setting, before finally switching to an artist living out his worst nightmare, Urasawa deftly keeps the reader glued to the page.
Each setting is beautifully connected by subtle actions and events that intersect each other perfectly, pushing the story forward in a natural, organic way that almost feels as convincing as real life.
Urasawa’s approaches his story with a strong degree of realism but never fails to push the envelope with unexpected mystery or suspense. His skill at conveying such tones from seemingly normal situations through his cinematic approach to paneling makes him a master of storyboard flow, and enables him to really stand out among works that are considered “popular” titles.