A young man named Chiaki rides the train on the way to a crucial job interview. His father is deceased, and he is the sole caretaker of his two younger brothers. He desperately needs the job and is determined not to let anything stop him from getting there on time. That is until something happens while on the train. RaW Hero volume 1 by the mangaka Akira Hiramoto of Prison School fame comes to digitally and physically in the West courtesy of Yen Press . But is it worth reading?
When Chiaki witnesses a man grope a woman on the train. He has two choices: ignore the incident and get to his interview, or save the woman and lose his chance at the job he so badly needs. It’s a hard decision for this young man to make and one that will ultimately lead him into a strange new world. So starts Raw Hero.
A young man (early twenties, most likely) who wants to provide for his two younger brothers while they’re in school.
A high-ranking member of the Justice Management Team (JMT), a police unit composed entirely of superheroes.
A heroes story?
Chiaki decides to save the woman and stop the pervert. The event costs him time and ultimately, the job interview. But when one door closes, another door opens to more exciting employment.
Chiaki recruited into the Justice Management Team (JMT), a police unit composed of superheroes. He isn’t asked to become a hero yet, however. Instead, he’s told that he will be doing “top-secret missions”, and that he will be well compensated. At first, he resists, but having no other options, he takes the job.
Chiaki’s first mission is to get a job with a mysterious organization known only as “SALF”. To do this, he is given a key to a safe deposit box and told that everything he will need for the interview is in a suitcase contained in the box. Just follow the instructions to the letter, and the company will employ him. His job then will be to report to the JST on SALF’s activities. Chiaki goes to get the box. But what on earth could be inside?
RaW Hero volume 1 spoilers
An unexpected twist
Inside is an outfit for a girl named Amane Shirasawa, along with a highly detailed back story. Amane Shirasawa is a tragic character. She’s a wannabe idol who was taken advantage of by unscrupulous managers and used both for her money and her body. Baffled, Chiaki decides that he must wear this costume to infiltrate SALF, so he puts on the clothes, wig, and makeup, and turns into a very convincing girl.
Chiaki goes into the interview, trying to be as confident as possible, and comes face to face with his interviewers. He then realizes that SALF is an honest-to-goodness evil corporation which employs monsters, like the elephant man who is one of his interviewers.
When things look like they can’t get any more insane, we learn that he’s wearing the wrong costume. It turns out, his handler mixed up the suitcases. Chiaki was never supposed to see the Amane Shirasawa costume, let alone wear it. Chiaki is now in drag and in a room full of super-villains, who will not hesitate to kill him if they notice something suspicious. I won’t breathe a word of what happens next, not even in the spoiler section. You owe it to yourself to find out.
The art in this manga is gorgeous. It starts with the cover image and goes from there. All the characters are beautifully drawn, with realistic human proportions, movements, and faces. This is an adult manga in every sense of the word, and the art falls in with works like Death Note, Platinum End, and Vagabond as some of the best you’ll see in that style anywhere.
There’s a ton of love in the environments as well as artist Hiramoto paints a gritty, realistic version of Japan. Every page is a treat for the eyes. RaW Hero volume 1 is the kind of book that can move copies based on art alone.
Is RaW Hero volume 1 worth reading?
Absolutely, positively yes. I wasn’t a fan Prison School (Akira Hiramoto previous work), because it seemed like a lot of work for a story that didn’t really have any consequences. This, however, is is a RaW Hero volume 1 review. The setup is ridiculous, but the stakes are literally life and death. It’s enough to keep you on the edge of your seat as the story switches from absolute absurdity to sheer terror and back.
This manga has a parental advisory for a reason. I didn’t include it in the review, but there is some explicit sexual content here, enough to make you think twice about reading it in public.
But read it you should. RaW Hero may not be for everyone, but it’s one of the more unique releases of 2020 so far. If future books keep up the pace set by the first volume, it might be my pick for new release of the year.
If you enjoyed this RaW Hero volume 1 review, why not check out our other seinen or ecchi reviews?