Taka Fujimaru may seem like a regular high school student, but behind the cheery facade lies a genius hacker by the name of Falcon. When his father is framed for murder, Falcon uses his brilliant hacking skills to try and protect his sister and clear his father's name. However, he finds that his father, an agent in an elite government agency, was involved with something far more complex than a simple murder. A terrorist group is plotting against the city of Tokyo and it is up to Falcon, with the help of his friends, to unravel the twisted plans to kill millions.
Taka Fujimaru exudes the image of an underachiever but behind his commonplace exterior, he hides – renowned for his remarkable talent as a hacker as he assumes his online alter-ego, the champion of justice "Falcon".
He perpetuates a feckless façade in the midst of the school newspaper club, while surreptitiously gathering intelligence on injustice and occasionally part-timing as a hacker for hire. His father, while proud of his son's exceptional talent and interest in his work, strives to restrict Fujimaru's activities for the sake of his son's own safety. Working in the intelligence business himself, he knows only too well just how dangerous some information can be.
The artwork is crisp and conducive to a fast paced narrative of intrigue, human and computer interfaces. Artist Kouji Megumi has captured the mysterious woman archetype perfectly. The voluptuous villain of this manga is a real beauty and a total femme fatale.
The story has one hell of a hook as our hero is left with a mysterious phrase to follow - his adventure unfolds in the style of a classic thriller, with one line uttered by his father before he disappears "Bloody Monday".
From reading the first volume, it's understandable how Bloody Monday has built itself quite a reputation among manga readers. It is likely to interest a lot of fans who enjoy something a little darker and compelling, such as 20th Century Boys. With spy synopsis style the story has the potential to reach a more general audience as it has a lot in common with Western drama and doesn't contain the kind of elements that can be a bit of a culture shock for newcomers to manga.
Young hacker Fujimaru is forthright and cunning, a resourceful character with enough human foibles to prevent the heroic image from becoming insufferable. Like Death Note's Light Yagami, it will be interesting to see how his quest for justice will align with his sense of morality. This is where the character comparison ends, however, as Fujimaru would not forsake his family, a connection that most readers will find easy to connect with.
There is something in the storytelling that is just a little too obvious and contrived and that for me – it somewhat challenges the suspension of disbelief. The core characters are an indomitable force of united adolescents who are fighting against the evil deeds of the corrupt adult world. For Falcon and his unstoppable team of schoolmates, there are varying displays ingenuity and resourcefulness that conflict with instances of plain stupidity. It is this disparity that prevents Bloody Monday from reaching the levels of greatness that are to be found in the likes of thrillers by Naoki Urasawa. There are stirring moments and surprises that help to redeem and restore the appeal of the manga.
Bloody Monday is certainly engaging, exciting and well drawn. I am interested enough to read the second volume, however, at this stage I couldn't possibly say if it is likely to hold my attention for the long run or if eventually it will be consigned to the reject pile.