Bubblegum Crisis (the original one) was my gateway drug into anime. It was the first series I purchased and I quickly fell in love with this science fiction world with vigilantes in powered armor fighting against a malevolent corporation. I get a similar vibe from the online manga Convergence, by Wave (oh, like none of you have ever bothered with a pseudonym online?) about Sakura, a young woman who, after discovering some nasty secrets that the Darkwood Corporation has been hiding from the public eye, has to save her sister from one of the corporate enforcers, Velias… who has his own reasons to hate the rebels and yet not wish to see harm come to her sister Suzuran.
While I enjoy the background setting for Wave’s world-building (even if the whole “evil corporation” theme is sometimes overdone, not to mention it’s likely if Darkwood is as powerful as it’s made out to be, it would control the news media and use those contacts to squash any potential leaks), where the comic shines is with Sakura, Suzuran, and Velias. Each character takes their own turn as protagonist and antagonist, with Velias’ motivation for helping Darkwood (and his concerns about doing what’s right) providing him with more depth than most comic antagonists possess, while Sakura’s desire to reveal Darkwood’s shady dealings ends up the catalyst that causes Suzuran to come to harm. But really, the star of the comic is Suzuran herself.
Suzuran is… for lack of better terms, nuts. She’s a delightful nut, mind you, but in her first appearance (after Velias and Sakura’s initial fight), she’s jumping off a tall building and onto a homemade trampoline she hung between the buildings (and her sister knows about this crazy plan of Suzu’s). After that, she jumps up to a line between buildings and then starts playing the flute, of all things. It’s only after Velias shows up to take her into custody (in the vain belief that he could use Suzu to blackmail Sakura to give up her data) that we learn that Darkwood had experimented on Suzu (and Sakura) in the past… and of the connection that Velias has in initially freeing both girls. Further, Suzu’s still programmed by the corporation… and after running into the man behind her programming tries to kill her sister.
So needless to say, Convergence takes some interesting twists along the way. Interestingly, the comic is actually a prequel and is wrapping up to make way for Wave’s next work, and she’s launched a Kickstarter for a print version of Convergence (which will end on March 6, 2013). It’s the unique touches that really make this one a special event. I mean, any comic can have beautiful artwork (which does unfortunately include a couple chibi-style moments which I suspect most manga artists consider obligatory) and an interesting storyline. But flute players, a complete loon for a character, a shady corporation…these are things that don’t often make it into comics, and certainly not all at once. This comic is definitely worth a closer look, so head on out and see for yourself.