Little is as hilarious as seeing seeming opposites embodied in one thing. Examples are a big dog or cat with a soft bark or mew. They are too adorable. Enter The Geek Ex-Hitman Volume 1, with hitman turned otaku. Created by Ko-dai with translation by Giuseppe di Martino and lettering by Erin Hickman, this Yen Press manga is heavy on showing manga and anime love in the oddest comedic settings. Combining action with unforeseen comedic moments, The Geek Ex-Hitman Volume 1 is a fast read, but you keep going back.
The setup is impressive, akin to the scene when Sam approaches the old man with the partially-eaten lollipop in Trick R’ Treat. Marco, aka “The Oracle of Florence,” aka “T.O.” Marco is legendary because of his prowess for killing. Then one day, he approaches a man cowering against a dresser. He reaches and grabs the anime figurine next to the man. When he learns the man got it from Japan that is all it takes for the laughter to commence. He disappears to Japan to live a life devoted to collectibles, anime, and manga. Marco retired from killing, but that does not mean his skill for violence is gone. Nor does it mean he can live free and clear.
The Geek Ex-Hitman Volume 1 Has Standout Characters
What makes The Geek Ex-Hitman‘s stand out are the characters and situations. Marco’s commitment to everything otaku is side-splitting fun. But he is also like gravity, sucking those around him into his passions. Marco sets the record straight when a group of men threaten his friends to give them money. They assume all otakus are weak. Then, after grabbing one of them and a brief speech about otakus’ benefit to the economy, he gets them all to do wotagei (aka otagei)—a choreographed dance with glow sticks otakus perform. Yes, they had glow sticks in hand and followed Marco’s moves. Shinohara-shi and Nakamura-shi—Marco’s friends/senpais—think “T.O.” stands for “Top Otaku” and, though wrong, it is hard to argue.
Marco is not alone in his obsessions. Another top-tier hitman, Viviana, is on her way to Japan to kill him, though doujinshi—BL especially—winds up a big distraction. Viviana’s obsession with shipping Marco to every person he meets keeps her preoccupied. Viviana is not the only killer after Marco either. Andre shows up after Viviana’s reports degrade to “summer break journal entries.” Understandable, given Viviana is an otaku too. Being in Japan is like a kid in a candy shop—they are not in a rush to leave.
An Otaku Lurks In All Of Them
The unlikely trio winds up joining forces. Their goal? To make a doujinshi for Comisu—a convention for fans of anime and manga. The way they end up getting Andre on board is unreal. It is not only that two deadly characters are also otakus that make this comical. It is how they manage to pull others who look down on otakus into that world. The drawings reinforce the hilarity, especially when Viviana first meets Marco and when Andre insults Viviana. Even in combat, some insults cut deeper, and poor Viviana was out for the count. Being an otaku is serious business.
The Geek Ex-Hitman Volume 1 reminds me of The Way of the Househusband series because of how much I laughed. Cute, funny, with wtf unexpected moments, The Geek Ex-Hitman Volume 1 keeps you in stitches with every page. There is so much that works, the cover, the drawings, the characters; it all comes together in this entertaining comedy, action series. You do not know where the manga is going, but you know you do not care. It is too good.