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“Bootsleg,” Volume 1 Review

Personal Rating: 4/5 Stars

*Review is not spoiler free!

Publisher Summary:

At seven years old, Zen’s parents, sister, and his own left leg were swallowed by the mysterious gloved entity only known as Shake Hand. And Zen’s not the only one—in the seven years after, these “gloved hand” incidents have only increased, and others have lost families and limbs, too. But Zen is powerless to do anything about it…until the fateful night his eyes are opened and he once again comes face to face with the mysterious, murderous Shake Hand—and the artisan syndicate sworn to stop him, known as Bootsleg!


I received this book as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I had a great time reading this volume! The opening scene where Zen first loses his leg reminded me of the beginning of Fullmetal Alchemist. I’m not sure if that was purposefully done since they both feature protagonists who use prosthesis and who are fighting to get their families back in some way or other. The fact that this manga stars so many characters with prosthesis was the main reason I became interested in reading it, since I believe there should be many more characters who possess one across different types of fiction. I also enjoyed that Zen trained his entire body hard to become strong, which in turn gave power to his prosthesis, rather than it suddenly making him "superpowered" just by having it. It was also nice to see that they included scenes depicting him giving his prosthesis regular maintenance before bed and taking it to be worked on for upkeep.

Zen himself was a pretty fun character. He reminded me a lot of other shonen protagonists, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have a soft spot for such hard workers. Elio was also similar to other rivals I have seen before, but I appreciate how he’s already started to open up some by the end of this volume. I look forward to seeing how the two’s friendship will progress.

The female characters in this first volume were also quite interesting and different in their core personalities. The woman who created “Bootsleg” and does repairs on their shoes is my favorite out of them all. It’s awesome to see an older woman with visible wrinkles and age (who can also hold her own against enemies) with an important presence in a series like this. The other two female characters were likeable over time as well, but I could have REALLY done without the fanservice, especially when it came to the younger of the two. I had to remove a star because of my personal distaste for it.

The highlight of this manga would have to be it’s incredible action scenes. Full of energy, strong linework, great character expressions, and unique lettering for sound effects, I truly had a great time envisioning them animated. I thought the designs of the “gloves” and enemies were distinctive as well, and made each battle unique. If this series ever became an anime, I think it would be very well-received for its fight scenes and interesting mechanics when it comes to the variety of prosthesis and how they are used.

I’ll absolutely be picking up volume 2!

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