Black Gate or alternatively known as Reverse/End is a Yukiko Sumiyoshi three volume manga licensed Tokyopop in an omnibus only book. Characters are very well drawn with a fresh variety of expressions to give humor from the mangaka’s experience as a creator of gag shorts. Main characters and the gang are a wonderful mix of social misfits that range from the abused, arrogant, and bossy. The pacing of the story develops without too much drag and builds up with flashbacks and well spread out hooks throughout the adventure.
The story is about gate closers known as Mitedamashi who have the job of closing bad gates and supernatural people known as Gate Keepers who manage the gates for people to pass into the afterlife. White gates are large holes that appear normally when someone is about to pass and black are the bad ones that try to create deaths, but both are only able to be seen by Gate Keepers and a limited number of humans. We start off with a Mitedamashi named Senju who was given the duty to protect a special child with hidden power to discover named Hijiri. Mitedamashi have an organizer to give them work with payment for each closed gate, how large the closed gate is, and if there are other related tasks. Sadly Senju is pretty poor despite having such an unusual career and has had to take normals jobs as supplementary income for feeding the duo. It turns out Hijiri is the last of the race of Gate Keepers that along the way helps to acquire new allies for his adventure to become useful and a leader, but it seems such great power is dangerous and wanted by those who wish to end death.
One of my favorite areas of the plot is of Senju exiting the shower and Hijiri being forced down to the ground. Hijiri’s shirt is opened as it’s decided that he’ll enter a party at a wealthy mansion as a young girl in order to find a black gate within an otherwise hard to enter location. At the mansion the rich father who owns the place is throwing a birthday party for his daughter in order to help his hurting business. During the party Hijiri makes friends with the not so thrilled daughter and is dressed up in a much more stunning outfit by her due to the slapped together appearance he entered with. It’s warming in that after the gate is closed and Hijiri’s gender is revealed the girl finally is happy despite none of her friends were allowed to be there. Instead she made a new friend with a bit of entertainment that came along with the gate closing and Hijiri’s mouthy chatter.
Certain characters remind me much of Maki Murakami’s manga Gamerz Heaven. Hijiri is like the Navigator from Gamerz Heaven’s Nata in that he’s the kiddy cute character with digital numbers sometimes appearing in his eyes and magical powers that seem technological.
Best of all Black Gate should be fairly cheap if found at a local store and can be even bought new on Amazon for a couple bucks plus shipping. Special pages by Yukiko Sumiyoshi accompany the book with drawn pages of notes, thanks, and artwork with summarization of characters as the story moves.