After I made it through 10th grade American history, I was thoroughly surprised that I didn’t hate white people. The reason for this is due to the large emphasis my teacher placed on areas such as slavery, The Civil Rights Movement, and numerous white power organizations. I use this trip down memory lane as a strange lead in to Shizuya Wazarai’s Blaster Knuckle, the only blaxsploitation manga that I have ever read.
Blaster Knuckle tells the story of the KKK in the year 1888 with one small difference–the KKK is led by DEMONS! The main hero of is Victor Freeman, a baaaaaaaaaaaaad mutha’ who no one understands but his wom…well, actually, no one understands him. A stoic and ruthless man, Victor’s goal is to kill as many KKK demons as he can to avenge the death of his father, whom was lynched and ate. As in many demon-slaying manga, young Victor Freeman is picked up by badass demon hunters who raise him to become not only a kickass heavyweight boxers, but the baddest demon killer this side of the Mississippi.
This would be all fine and dandy if it wasn’t for one slight problem: these badass demon hunters abide by certain rules and guidelines, and it seems that there’s one that ol’ Victor could just never get right. Because these demons have a tendency to disguise themselves as humans, they must be executed in secret so as not to alarm any citizens. This, however, does not bother Victor, who sees no problem in shooting a demon broad daylight even if they’re disguised as a little girl. As one would assume, these actions do not go unnoticed. Due to Victor’s showy acts of retribution, The Man (yes, I said The Man) has brought together a group of bounty hunters to bring our hero to justice.
It’s actions like this that have made Victor a wanted man. His methods for disposing of demons isn’t exactly what you’d call subtle either. Along with his sawn off shotgun, he carries around a trusty gauntlet that shoots silver bullets whenever he punches. That’s right; Victor’s got himself his own variation of the Rocket Punch.
Now if you thought this 3 volume manga was only big enough for one demon-slaying, gun-slinging, Wild West badass; you were wrong. You see, silent protagonists like Victor need a foil that’s energetic and funny. Like the Goku to his Vegeta, the Naruto to his Sasuke, the…everyone else in Berserk to his Guts. In Blaster Knuckle, that man is Alex MacGregor. Along with being a demon slayer from the same organization as Victor, who, by the way, are out to kill him for breaking their code, Alex is far from your average gunman. Add one 50 gauge revolver for a prosthetic arm, and a love for “the thrill of the hunt” and you’ve got a worthy partner for our main hero.
The story ends on a pretty open ended note. Victor rides out into the sunrise after a warning from Alex, who tells him that their demon hunting senpai won’t rest until he’s pushing up daisies. Blaster Knuckle’s setting is a surprising departure from conventional manga, with the whole concept of KKK demons being an obvious allegory to the evils of prejudice. So the next time someone asks you, “Who’s the cool cat who won’t cop out when there’s crazy racist demons about?” Be sure to tell them “Victor Freeman!”