Written by Hiromu Arakawa in 1999, this one-chapter manga (published in a magazine at the time) was her very first serious work. It would eventually influence her later works, especially Fullmetal Alchemist, particularly in her own concept of alchemy itself ("chemistry and magic") as well as that of chimaeras.
It focuses on the story of a bandit, Fultac, and his "military dog" Kilka. A "military dog" is a creature derived from the fusion of a human being and a dog (duh!), which is very loyal to his/her owner; originally used as soldiers, they are now pretty much pets, and the laboratory where they were created serves now as a factory. After finding Kilka, Fultac and her eventually face a bounty hunter mage and his own military dog; while said mage and military dog are killed, Fultac pretty much loses an arm, and Kilka dies. Filled with anger he goes to the laboratory where he was created, facing the scientist/mage who is responsible for everything. In the process we learn he was among his very first experiment, thrown away as a child to the sewers along with the carcasses of the other victims of the scientist/mage's experiments. After burning the place down Fultac kills the other military dogs to free them from their miserable lives, and ends up adopting a little military dog child himself, who may or may not be free since he didn't performed the ritual of "bonding".
Overall a good Tear Jerker and heartwarming story, which is pretty much Fullmetals prototype considering the number of terms and plot devices used in the story that would later be recycled in Fullmetals plot.
This manga provides examples of:
- Anti-Hero: Fultac is one due to being a murderous and thieving criminal that's accumulated a massive bounty through criminal acts by the beginning of the story. He's also a jerk to Kilka despite it being clear he deeply cares about her.
- Bittersweet Ending: More on the sweet side. The only reason why it isn't an happy ending is because Kilka dies.
- Crapsack World: The setting is a bleak world where technological advances in science and magic are used to create sentient military dogs of war, an economic depression is present, and the aforementioned dogs of war are now sold into slavery in droves at a high price by the mage Valruda that created them. So many are produced the birthing place of these slaves has become a factory and it's implied that orphan children are being abducted and used as guinea pigs to make more military dogs.
- Eyepatch of Power: Fultac. Its hides a functioning, golden eye.
- Handicapped Badass: Fultac becomes this after he loses his arm trying to protect Kilka from the bounty hunter and his military dog. He still manages to destroy the Military Dog Factory and slaughter every dog in the place in addition to the mage that created them.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Kilka pulls one of these to give Fultac enough time to kill Brakshia the rogue military dog.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Fultac.
- Kung-Fu Wizard: Bartley the bounty hunter reveals himself to one of these after he attacks Fultac with a spell and then tries to strike him with a mace. He even lampshades and mocks the Squishy Wizard trope by questioning if there's a rule that says mages cannot be good at physical combat as well as magic.
- Little Bit Beastly: Young dogs look like this, while older ones like Brakshia are more furry.
- The Load: Kilka was this to Fultac for three years after he found her due to her being incredibly clumsy since her poor combination of human and dog parts makes her an unsuitable fighter unlike other dogs, causing Fultac to mock her as useless.
- Low Fantasy: Despite the usage of science, magic is still used and the setting is medieval European looking.
- Mad Scientist: This coming from Hiromu Arakawa, it's really not surprising.
- Magic Knight: Fultac is a partial example: in addition to swordsmanship he knows exactly one spell, which is fairly powerful, due to how difficult it is for him to learn magic. No one knows Fultac can use the spell since he's killed anyone he's ever used it on.
- Light Is Not Good: Bartley the bounty hunter mage uses light-based powers. Fultac later uses them, though...and it's still not good for the military dogs and for the mage/scientist.
- Papa Wolf / Big Brother Instinct: Fultac toward Kilka.
- Shout-Out: Fultac kinda looks like Guts/Gatts considering his tall muscular physique, eye patch, morally questionable background, skill as a swordsman with a considerably large blade, short spiky hair, and black cape. The fact he also loses his arm trying to protect a loved one, Kilka his case, makes the comparison all the more deliberate.
- Slave Race: The Military Dogs are bred to be this, being specifically made to be subservient and completely loyal as dogs to the masters they make a pact with until death and are basically treated as ornaments, a source of cheap labor, or guard dogs. When their master dies, a military dog is left without a purpose and is left to die due to being unable to take care of themselves.
- Supernatural Gold Eyes: That's how you distinguish a particularly human-like military dog from a normal person. Fultac has one golden eye, indicating his status as one of the oldest military dogs.
- Super Soldier: The Military Dogs were bred to be perfectly loyal warriors used during wars between nations by combing the intellect of humans with the animalistic strength and senses of canines. After the wars ceased, the dogs were abandoned to eventually be used as a slave race to be bought and sold in households.