Tokyo Ghost has been quite the story, and with such an action packed adventure up to this point, the ending was not what I expected. Not that one can expect anything they think to play out the way it will, as Davey Trauma himself learned in this last issue. Tokyo Ghost #10 was a much softer ending than I had anticipated, leaving me scratching my head. Instead of the action packed battle that it looked like it was leaving off with, it becomes a battle of mind.
Not mind in the sense of who can outsmart whom, but in the sense of actually knowing someone, peering in to the soul of a person. There were a lot of underlying messages floating around in this one, and while Tokyo Ghost #10 manages to touch on all of these points, it also drags the pacing down a bit, and certain messages might get lost in the mix. I had to really think about what I was reading, and how it pertained to things it was commenting on. This is not to say that what Tokyo Ghost was commenting on wasn’t good, just not as impactful, especially if one wasn’t looking for it.
Tokyo Ghost‘s focal point has always been about the struggles of Western culture (and certain other cultures) dragging themselves down with technology, the way humanity is numbing itself to the world happening around them. This is still the central pillar for the comic up to the end, just surrounded by other commentary; on relationship, self-worth, and even religion.
Leading heroine Debbie Decay, has maintained a certain strength up to this point; hell, she’s been strong since she was a child, so it was strange to see her flip flop all over the place this last issue. It felt like she was a love-struck teenage girl, and I didn’t know who I was reading about anymore. Love makes fools of us all they say, but this felt out of character. One moment she was facing off against Davey Trauma full force, the next he says some words, and she’s just about ready to give up. I understand the power that words can have on a person but it doesn’t seem like her to shut down almost completely because Davey teases her with her now dead lover, Teddy. She’s been dealing with this since issue #5, and even moved past it. It makes her transition into becoming the Tokyo Ghost feel almost meaningless.
Seeing Debbie give up so quickly on humanity made previous victories feel hollow, especially because she has become the caretaker of life. She can literally heal people. Luckily Takara is back in the mix! Saving the day and kicking ass (or face), Takara might be the one constant beside Davey actually. Which brings me to another point. Why have the leading female character fallen into such easy tropes? At the same time, all the male characters maintain their personalities without flaw. Davey Trauma has literally never wavered once on anything he’s done the whole series. It feels like a Tennessee Williams play in comic form, which would actually fit this last act perfectly.
Luckily, the book quickly pulls out of this weird funk, and Debbie is back to her kicking ass self. Sure it might have taken Takara to help out, which is actually one of my favorite pages in the comic, but it’s nice to see Debbie snap out of it. It’s also interesting to see her use the one thing she hates beyond anything else to take down exactly what she hates: A technological castration. Still the overtones, of masculinity to femininity are jarring, even in this scene. Having a massive image of Teddy behind Debbie telling her what to do, even if it’s built on love/trust just didn’t fit with who Debbie is. She’s never relied on anyone, and to have her reveal now that she always relied on Teddy is off-putting. Yes, I understand people will end up trusting and even needing a shoulder to cry on, but Debbie has never done this. She has always come off as someone looking for someone who can be a partner in crime as opposed to wanting a crutch. This is why the message seems to fall through the cracks.
As for commenting on our obsessions with technology, this is closed out flawlessly, and I loved every part of it. The back and forth between Debbie and Davey on just what tech does for people, and why they want it, yet don’t was strong. I was on the edge of my seat because I thought Davey might really pull this mass suicide off. It not only is a commentary on just how reliant our own society is on technology, but how there are those that can’t live or breath without it, how it is a religion. No, this comic is not a commentary on religion, but having listened to a history podcast recently I couldn’t help but see the overtones of worship and praise for something that gives blind comfort to many. I am not knocking religion; the comic does draw contrasting points though in its dialog. People need something to make them feel special, and technology like religion does this in a sense.
Having the comic close on this note, was perfect. I actually didn’t see it coming, but once having read it, it was just one more click. Social media is a scary thing, the world we live in has become a scary place, things are instantaneous, people want what’s immediate, that endorphin high one gets from seeing how many likes they’ve gotten on something. It can be a tricky sea to navigate, and if one’s not careful they can drown in it. With Debbie’s tech castration on a global scale things seem to have gone back to what might be labeled a simpler time. Then there’s the last few pages of the comic, and what plays out speaks volumes. Not to ruin it, but let’s just say things always find a way to slip back in, people are only human after all, it’s just a matter of time.
Tokyo Ghost can be found online or at your local comic shop.