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Manga / Jackals

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Alligator Nichol, the son of the Grim Reaper herself

Jackals is a Manganote  written by Shinya Murata and drawn by Byun-Jin Kim. It chronicles the life of a mercenary named Nichol, son of another mercenary, in Friedrichs town of Cicero City, which also houses other mercenaries generally grouped under the titular Jackals and two major gangs, The Mafia-like Gabriella and the Triad-like Tennouren. The story kicks off when Nichol, after finishing one of his jobs, is assaulted by a Gabriella executive and kills him in retaliation, causing the rest of Gabriella to hunt him. However, they are impeded by the ever-growing Tennouren, who just loses their former leader who is swiftly replaced by his genius daughter. Soon Nichol is caught in the gang war between Don Salieri and Lei Meilang, and must fight to survive as he has done all his life.

The Arachnid manga later written by Murata stars an expy of a character from this story and is confirmed to be a Stealth Sequel. His other works also tend to borrow from this one.

Jackals provide examples of:

  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: The Alligator wielded by Roxy and Nichol can make mincemeat out of people and go through walls.
  • All of Them: When Huya asks which of the people in the Corridor of Death he needs to kill to complete his training, Turis responds with this.
  • Always Save the Girl: Nichol is determined to save Sheryl at all costs and is willing to make alliances with the Gabriella gang for that end.
  • And the Adventure Continues: The final battle between Nichol and Huya ends offscreen in either a draw or by them getting separated by the ongoing war, but both survive. Sometime later we see Huya being hired to kill Hans, who has restored Gabriella as an underground organization. He can tell Nichol must also be out there somewhere and hopes to face him in combat again.
  • Animal Motifs: Several characters have an animal theme, such as Alligators for Nichol, snakes for Arshela and bats for Franco. There are some bug people too, yes, and some other characters who are exempt from this trope.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Lee Mei Lang gets away with Turis and Sheryl. She makes an alliance with the millitary and remakes the country in her image, although some things don't change much and Hans manages to survive and establish an underground Organization to oppose her.
  • Berserk Button: Julio Angelo hates being called a kid.
  • BFS:
    • Nichol's Alligator looks like a mix of a two-handed sword and an axe. He can use it both as a shield and as a projectile.
    • Huya's Requiem is a more traditional fantasy huge sword, which his father teaches him to wield by mastering the rhythm of each swing rather than focusing his strength. The sword plays melodies as the guy rapid-fires it!
    • Isaac's claymore is a more realistic example.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Don Salieri and Lee Mei-Lang are the respective leaders of the dueling Gabriella and Tennouren gangs fighting for control of Cicero city. It eventually turns out that Vampire Franco Odman has been Playing Both Sides as part of his own plan to take over their gangs and the city and he winds up being the final opponent- though Lee is the one who wins the war.
  • But Now I Must Go: After his ultimate battle against Huya ends in a draw, Nichol disappears into the world. He only briefly returns to leave flowers next to Roxy's grave, still without greeting anyone.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: A Gabriellan, Vampire Franco seems to have this trait.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Blood Witch Domino's specialty. So much that vivisection is her hobby.
  • Combat Medic: Inoue used to be a doctor during times of war. And since he's also badass...
  • Covers Always Lie: The cover for the last volume spoils how Nichol dresses like after the final battle and that he pays a visit to a certain grave before continuing his travels, but in the story proper we do not see him at all during the ending.
  • Crapsack World: Thanks to the gangs and the crimes. The irony is lampshaded by the head police officer, who laments that Friedrichs town, whose name means peaceful, is anything but.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Roxy is very badly injured in her fight with her son, enough so that he's convinced he killed her. She then marches up who knows how many flights of stairs just in time to do a Big Damn Heroes for Sheryl via decapitating Shao the Decapitator. She then proceeds to Human Shield Sheryl from Franco's machineguns long enough for Nichol and Huya to get the drop on Franco and his guards. BADASS, THY NAME IS ROXY.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • Reading Jackals after something like Arachnid or Killing Bites can be rather weird, indeed. The chapter titles aren't quotes, there's no animal trivia narration every chapter, no camp and it's a coherent story with over two distinct arcs told in under 60 chapters rather than one big arc that lasts forever.
    • Here we already have animal-themed people but there is little use of supernatural elements for their skills. And not all of them have such motifs. Arachnid, a Stealth Sequel, introduces super powers of all kinds with little internal logic in what still looks like a mundane setting. Choubu no Shinobi further makes Jackals even more awkward by being a more fantastical prequel set in the Sengoku period.
    • In Arachnid and Choubu no Shinobi, spider people are very darn overpowered with their omnipresent Razor Floss traps. So it can be odd to see how Alice Fujii's predecessor Turis Flag, despite being a genuine threat, doesn't get to kill anyone during the story and knows not to bite more than she can chew.
    • From Arachnid on, nearly every story from Shinya starts with some sort of rape-murder situation and several characters are established as serial rapists. Jackals has just a gruesome aftermath of a battle for its R-Rated Opening and the only rapist character is Shao.
  • Enemy Mine: Hans just hates the idea of teaming up with Nichol.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: Unlike her father, Lee Mei Lang is indiscriminate when it comes to hiring people for Tenouren.
  • Expy: More than one person has seen the resemblance between Nichol and K' from The King of Fighters games.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Don Salieri is the leader of Gabriella as long as he wears his eyepatch. Which somehow has a bunny picture on it.
  • Fake Defector: Cornelio. He is always a Gabriellan, but when Tennouren takes over Gabriella thanks to Franco's betrayal, he pretends to side with Tennouren until he reveals to Arshela he's always been a Gabriellan, after goading her to kill him with Domino to atone for the 'betrayal'.
  • Feel No Pain: Domino once gets stabbed at her heart. She then proceeds to torture her assailant as if nothing happened. A few chapters after that, she also happily slices her own tongue in the midst of torturing her victim. Cornelio eventually finds out her trick, allowing Arshela to finish her off.
  • Femme Fatale: Arshela, complete with the snake-headed whip.
  • Flash Step: Isaac has his "Brand Nero" swordfighting style, which exploits the enemy's blind spots to make it seem as if he is teleporting around to backstab them. Towards the end, Roxy uses her defensive "Killing Bite" technique to counter Isaac before he can attack. The author is really fond of this scene, seeing as it is referenced in both Arachnid, Caterpillar and Killing Bites.
  • Gorn: The first panel of the first chapter has a man being decapitated by Nichol's blade. If that doesn't clue you in...
  • Guns Are Worthless: Nichol often faces gunfire without fear while using his Alligator as a shield and a gunslinger character who's supposedly more skilled than even Isaac gets a huge bridge dropped on him. There are aversions to this, however. At one point a martial artist laments teaching soldiers how to fight couldn't save them from firearms and indeed, two of the biggest badasses in the setting are ultimately killed by gunfire.
  • Human Shield:
    • Poor Nichol once became one during the night his mother was 'killed'.
    • Isaac becomes one for Hans and Roxy herself becomes one for Sheryl.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: Shao repeatedly threatens to rape Sheryl, even to Nichol's face. This eventually ends when a very badly wounded Roxy decides enough's enough.
  • Insistent Terminology: Don Salieri demands that he be called Don only if he wears his eyepatch. This is mostly because he is also the mayor of the town.
  • Karmic Death: Huya cuts Franco into pieces. Shao the Decapitator is decapitated by Roxy while molesting Sheryl in front of Nichol. Roxy dies after protecting Sheryl for the sake of her son Nichol.
  • Knight Templar: One police officer is hellbent on upholding the law by punishing (read: executing) anyone who breaks them. For example, he kills both a mugger and his victim, the former because he tries to mug, the latter because she is in the street past the curfew.
  • Left Hanging: There are many questions left unanswered at the end of the series. And although Arachnid is supposed to be a Stealth Sequel it doesn't explain much of anything that happened in the time gap between the two stories.
  • Mama Bear: Roxy knows just how much Sheryl means to Nichol and so uses the last of her life to protect her when Franco and Shao try to use her as leverage against Nichol.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: While the series doesn't skimp on female characters, none of them except Roxy and Domino die. And none of them ever gets a gruesome, gorny death.
  • Mentor Occupational Hazard: The Don to Isaac, Isaac to Hans and in a twisted way, Roxy to Nichol.
  • Missing Mom: Nichol is traumatized over the desth of his mother Roxy and lives as an assassin in an attempt to emulate her. Eventually he finds she's actually alive and is forced to near fatally injure her. Roxy then dies for good protecting his best friend.
  • More than Mind Control: Lee Mei Lang's specialty. She can compel people to join her with a select few words.
  • Only in It for the Money: Well, the Jackals are mercenaries... Also, this is Don Salieri's thought on why Vampire Franco follows him. Unfortunately, Franco is greedier than that.
  • Pet the Dog: While Lee Mei Lang does escape with Sheryl for practical reasons, she also did it as a favor to Roxy (for Roxy's reasons, see Mama Bear) and because if Sheryl DID hang around while Nichol and Huya fought, she'd definitely get hurt somehow.
  • Poisoned Weapon: Specialty of Cornelio, Gabriella's poison expert.
  • Professional Killer: Members of the Jackals are assassins-for-hire.
  • Rasputinian Death: Roxy tanks a truly frightening amount of damage before death.
  • Razor Wind: Claude, in tune with his iaijutsu. If he ever unsheathes his sword, Oh, Crap!.
  • Red Baron: Each important executive of Gabriella and Tennouren has one/two word as their title, such as Cyclone Claude, Bear Shao etc. The best Jackals mercenaries also have one, such as Alligator Nichol and Shinigami Roxy.
  • Training from Hell: Those whom Meilang wants in Tennouren will be subjected to this. Not only they will have to fight several powerful opponents at once in a dungeon, their bodies are weakened first.
  • Turn Out Like His Father: Roxy laments this with her son Nichol while dying.
  • Undressing the Unconscious: After Sheryl is kidnapped by the Tennouren, she wakes up in a bed now wearing a Chinese dress and is clearly confused and uncomfortable, but then she soon learns Roxy is still alive and is planning to kill her soon so she stops worrying about it.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Oh no, we're totally NOT going to show a woman kill an innocent child, this is just SO wrong... oh wait... Did Roxy just bisect this 7 year-old child???