Naoki Urasawa never fails to entertain me, and Billy Bat is no exception.
The series, which he co-writes with Takashi Nagasaki (the art is by Urasawa), tells a story that starts off following a cartoonist, Kevin Yamagata, who finds out that there’s more to the creation of his Billy Bat character than he first thought. As you’d expect from an Urasawa series, it strays very far from the initial premise, heading into directions that you’d never expect. Set in the 50s and 60s, it also incorporates many historical happenings — like the JFK assassination — direclty into the storyline, and it’s a joy to see how the conspiracy grows and entangles so many interesting characters.
I’ll readily admit that I’m a huge fan of Urasawa’s work — he is in fact my favorite mangaka — and I haven’t read anything by him that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed. I was slow to get to Billy Bat, but once I started reading the scanlations that are out there, I feverishly raced through the 74 chapters that have been released so far, at a pace that I would describe as unhealthy.
If this is your first time hearing about Naoki Urasawa, then you’re in luck, as you have some amazing series to dig into. Monster tells the story of a Japanese doctor in Germany whose decision to save the life of a young boy has consequences that form a hell of a ride — I’d also recomment watching the anime series, which is fantastic. 20th Century Boys is another sprawling storyline that reveals a worldwide conspiracy that was born out of a group of childhood friends, and Pluto sees Urasawa adapt one of Astro Boy‘s classic storylines, “The Greatest Robot on Earth” — it of course ends up coming out as pure Urasawa, in both pacing and atmosphere.
Do yourself a favor, hop on the Urasawa Express and enjoy the ride.