Sakamoto Days Feels Like It Comes From the ’90s – and That’s a Good Thing

People who come from a history of crime have a lot to deal with. As they do their best to live a clean life, they sometimes have to deal with their former checkered lives, such as vengeful enemies, temptations to make "easy money" and old compatriots trying to force them back into their old ways. Most stories surrounding the theme of redemption and trying to escape a life of crime usually end in tragedy, a sad reminder that crime doesn't pay.

Today's manga is anything but sad, serious or a cautionary tale. Sakamoto Days, written by Yuto Suzuki and published by Viz Media, is a silly romp surrounding the life of a former hitman named Sakamoto. He was not just any hitman but the greatest the Yakuza have ever seen. Sakamoto was dashing, deadly and an expert killer. But after starting a family, he is now out of shape and the only trigger he pulls is the one on a bar code scanner since, after leaving his life of crime, he opened a convenience store with his lovely wife and child. While he may have left the underworld behind him, the underworld has not forgotten Sakamoto. A figure from his past comes to his store and makes a request: "return to the assassin world, or die!"


The first noticeable factor about Sakamoto Days is that the art style is reminiscent of Viz Media's 1990s manga. The linework is softer and has less of the in-your-face aesthetics that cover the pages of modern-day manga. Sakamoto Days is a crime story that feels less like the gritty work of such dramas as Gangsta or Black Lagoon and more like a '90s staple such as Fushigi Yugi or Yu Yu Hakusho. While this may be off-putting to some fans of modern manga, the juxtaposition of softness mixed with the plot's challenging crime themes is an amusing dualism.

It is also funny that the jokes are thrown at the reader at a mile-a-minute pace alongside the action, which usually involves Sakamoto dealing with the day-to-day struggles of life like going to the grocery store is as severe as an assassination mission. After all, old habits die hard. However, despite its comedic tones, Sakamoto Days is for an older teen audience and features some violent scenes that should be avoided by the younger readers in the crowd.

Luckily for our out-of-shape former criminal, he has a loving family that helps him keep on the straight and narrow. One of the best things about this manga is its main lead characters. Sakamoto's wife, Aoi, is his rock throughout and while she does know of his dark past, she sees the good in him and makes it her life's mission to guide her husband to be the best man he can be.


Love can change a man and Sakamoto Days reminds readers that even those who have the shadiest of histories can find redemption. So, instead of being a hitman for the Yakuza, Sakamoto utilizes his quick reflexes for customer care and community service, even if he gets carried away at times -- much to the chagrin of his wife and readers' amusement. As for some of the secondary characters in this manga, such as fellow former assassin-turned-convenience-store-clerk Shin, not many unique traits can be spoken for. Most of the side characters are, for lack of a better term, just there.

Sakamoto Days does not reinvent the wheel when it comes to comedy manga. The jokes are serviceable, complete with slapstick humor and visual gags that induce chuckles. The action scenes are well put together but will not blow readers' minds. But as a fun diversion with a somewhat retro aesthetic, Sakamoto Days does not need to be revolutionary to be entertaining and sets out to tell a silly story about redemption. It's the white cake of comedy manga: simple, somewhat sweet and direct. In a challenging world such as ours, sometimes folks need some comfort food -- even if it's all about crime and the bloodshed that comes with it.

Publish Date: April 5, 2022

Price: $9.99 (Print)

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