I think I’ve found the manga to fulfill that “cute art, strange comedy, peculiar situations” niche that I’ve been missing from my manga reading now that Tuxedo Gin is over. It’s Reborn, by Akira Amano, and it’s just so…strange yet endearing I think I’ve fallen in love with it.
Reborn is the story of Tsuna Sawada, a middle school student who’s bad at sports, bad at studying, and incapable of doing anything to impress the girl he likes. He’s such a complete and total loser, it’s pretty much the only reputation he has whatsoever among his peers. Then along comes Reborn, a toddler hitman working for an Italian crime family.
Let that soak in a minute…toddler hitman. Not “midget hitman” or “strange creature who happens to look like a toddler, but is also a hitman.” But an actual toddler, with a binkie and diapers, who is a hitman. And everyone just accepts this. Oh, sure Tsuna can’t help but comment on how unlikely it is…but everyone else just lets it be.
Anyway, disguised as Tsuna’s live in tutor, Reborn reveals that he is actually here to groom Tsuna into becoming the next head of the mafia family he works for, Tsuna, by an obscure quirk of genetics, happening to be the last living male relative of the current Godfather. In addition to his vast personal experience and hands-on knowledge of running a crime family, Reborn also has access to magic bullets. Yes, that’s right, magic bullets. Just…accept it. The effect of the bullets depends on where you’re shot with them, and Reborn is particularly fond of using the “Deathperation Shot” which gives someone the courage to accomplish anything they have regrets over not doing. Over the course of this first volume, Tsuna gains two soldiers in his growing crime family and Reborn gains a nemesis in the form of Lambo, another toddler assassin working for a rival crime family, who dresses in a cow suit.
So, to sum up: cute art, slapstick comedy, and a premise that is entirely insane. See, this is why I love manga.
Edited to note: And, oh yeah, it’s published by Viz in the Shonen Jump Advanced line.