Smokin' Parade's art and story issues are a major drag to a manga filled with action and violence.

Smokin ParadeTitle: Smokin’ Parade
Genre: Action
Publisher: Kadokawa (JP), Yen Press (US)
Artist/Writer: Jinsei Kataoka, Kazuma Kondou
Serialized in: Shounen Ace
Translation: Leighann Harvey
Release Date: February 21, 2017
A review copy was provided by Yen Press

There’s always going to be expectations after you create a pretty successful or good title. For example you have Akira Toriyama going from Dr. Slump to Dragonball, Hiroya Oku’s Gantz to Inuyashiki, etc, and for fair or unfair reasons they have a standard to uphold.

That’s why I’m definitely judging Jinsei Kataoka and Kazuma Kondou’s Smokin’ Parade, which has possibly even more of the gore and violence of their biggest hit Deadman Wonderland, but none of the qualities that make it remotely entertaining.

Smokin’ Parade begins with its main protagonist Youkou Kakujou picking up a discarded can off the floor, jumping off an overpass and onto a car, and handing discarded can back to the litterer. After his bizarre sense of justice gets questioned by police he eventually heads home to see his sister, Mirai Kakujou, who has recovered from a debilitating leg injury thanks to the efforts of a medical company known as Amenotori. As soon as he arrives, he’s immediately knocked out.

When he wakes up, Youkou finds himself sitting in a chair alongside a cake, two girls at the table, and his sister. She’s celebrating his 15th birthday, so a happy and festive event should be taking place. Instead, he realizes those two girls have been gutted out almost completely, his arms and a leg have been cut off, and his sister is now some sort of demented bunny.

Just when all seems lost, a mysterious group — called the Jackalopes — storm the house, and end up offing the bunny and…accidentally come close to offing Youkou too! This leaves them in a position where they end up healing him and give him a choice — either return to his normal human life or get back at the company causing this mess.

There are a few things Smokin’ Parade does that’s interesting. The first is the family rules: Youkou introduces them at almost every opportunity. While some might find it annoying, I don’t really mind it. I mean, spout your laws before punching a guy in the face because he littered, it makes perfect sense. The manga’s not all that comedic, but it does have one moment in Volume 1 involving a gold-obsessed priest that was pretty unexpected and funny and made me wish this was a comedy manga.

No, seriously, I wish this was a comedy manga because the other aspects are either mediocre or just plain bad.

There’s barely a hook in Smokin’ Parade that makes me want to continue this. The main story is a battle between organizations with opposite viewpoints, but the subplot that could be interesting because of Youkou is the only one I could care about as the Jackalopes have no discernible personality and their reasons for fighting are somehow lame. They’re basically the good “monsters” in a story where guts and entrails are drawn with glee. Read Murcielago to deal with a better execution of violence in its story.

Though I should note, it’s unfair to compare the two — Smokin’ Parade is attempting to be serious with what it does, but its confusing art in most of its action scenes and the methods of introducing the characters makes it fall flat on its face. Deadman Wonderland can be accused of being too serious or whatever, but the hook into its world was far more captivating than anything Smokin’ Parade’s trying to do. And if it doesn’t find a way to make any of the fights or stories more interesting, Smokin’ Parade’s going to be memorable for being pretty bad instead of any good.