Originally serialized in Comic Magazine in 1978 prior to being collected into a single volume that was published by Hōbunsha Comics the following year, Mesujan-Deka (Japanese title: 牝雀刑事) was a short, 10 chapter series written by Kōsuke Miki and illustrated by Toshio Maeda.
Mesujan-Deka is a crime thriller centered around its lead character; a beautiful young undercover police detective with a license to kill called Akane Kyōgoku. Akane is part of the special operations branch of the police and is regularly called upon to take out gang leaders and other undesirables in an ongoing effort to clean up the dark Tokyo underworld. Not only blessed with a beautiful appearance and voluptuous physique, Akane also happens to be a highly skilled assassin and unbeatable player of mahjong to boot. It’s usually with these strengths in mind that her services are called upon by the chief of police since she has an incredibly good knack at getting close to her targets via the various underground gambling establishments peppered throughout the city. The very first chapter in fact cuts straight to the chase in setting the manga’s overarching backdrop when we see a corpse laying dead on the street with a single mahjong piece embedded in his forehead. Quickly called to the scene, Akane rocks up in undercover clothing and surveys the crime for herself without saying a word to anyone before silently disappearing out of sight as if she was never even there. Yamashita, the detective at the scene of the crime, identifies the body as being that of Tashiro, a fellow undercover detective, and surmises that he was likely killed by a gang for not paying them back the money he owed them. Back at the station, Yamashita explains his theory to the chief of police when Akane saunters into the room and sits on a chair behind him. Yamashita expresses concern at relaying important details in front of a stranger but the chief of police reassures him she’s part of the team and that whatever he has to report will remain confidential. Hearing this, Yamashita continues to explain his theory that Tashiro was killed because he borrowed money from the mob. He is abruptly stopped short however when Akane interjects and explains that isn’t the case and that Tashiro was actually trying to get close to the gang boss and bring down an entire drug cartel but was unfortunately killed in the act.
Taking the case into her own hands, Akane infiltrates the same mahjong club where Tashiro was murdered in an attempt to close in on the gang boss responsible. Putting her incredible mahjong skills to use, Akane makes light work of Boss Mizuhara, racking up a hefty 4 million yen in winnings in the process. Utterly incensed by Akane’s audacity, Mizuhara has her taken down into the basement where she is locked in a cell and forced to “enjoy” her 4 million yen winnings by means of intravenous injections of heroin. After several days, it’s clear that Akane is delirious from her drug abuse and can no longer fight her newly acquired addiction. By the time a week passes, Boss Mizuhara pays her a visit and is pleased to see her desire for another hit is all that seems to be on her mind. Delighted with getting his own back on Akane after she publicly humiliated him in the mahjong club, Mizuhara explains the sequence of events leading up to Tashiro’s murder before leaving her alone in the basement with one of his lackeys. Seeing Akane naked in her cell, the lackey realizes that it would be a perfect opportunity to rape her since she’d be too drugged to care. No sooner does he open the cell door and approach her however, Akane immediately snaps out of her daze and easily overpowers him before escaping her cell. She quickly calls the chief of police to tell him the truth concerning Tashiro resulting in Mizuhara’s prompt arrest. The chapter closes with Akane going cold turkey in her apartment to fight her unwanted drug addiction…
In the second chapter, Akane is back on the job as usual and this time she is hired to take down another gang boss. Her target is Rokakugen, the Chinese leader of the Dragon Cross gang. Rokakugen is the biggest smuggler in the business and when he sets up a mahjong tournament to decide who will be awarded a prime cut of the smuggling rights through his mob, Akane signs up. Her skills are far too good for any of the other contestants and, when she gets close to the final round, her opponents realize this and suddenly become very aggressive. Amid the heightened tensions, somebody flicks off the lights and a gunfight quickly ensues. By the time the lights are switched back on, Rokakugen and everyone else is laying dead on the floor except for Akane and one other survivor; the head of a rival gang. looking up at Akane, he suddenly realizes who she is but it’s too late as she puts a bullet between his eyes to end the chapter. Yep, she has a license to kill and she ain’t afraid to use it folks!
As you can probably guess, Mesujan-Deka is an episodic manga where each chapter is completely contained in and of itself. There are very few connections between the chapters but one narrative that runs through the story is that of Akane’s reason for doing what she does. After a few chapters we learn that she actually killed her lover when she found him with another woman. Naturally, the chief of police is aware of the full details regarding her crime but he chooses to whitewash the case and allow Akane to remain “innocent” in return for becoming his personal hitman. As such, she cannot decline any of the jobs she is given by him else he blabs to the press about what she did. Fortunately for Akane though, she eventually frees herself from her bind in the final chapter when she fakes her own death and comes back to silence the chief of police once and for all. Finally free to live a normal life as an everyday woman, the assassin formally known as “Akane Kyōgoku” wanders off into the sunset to start a new life…
Mesujan-Deka is a fun, high-paced manga that takes a fair amount of inspiration from “007” and other secret agent style stories that were popular at the time of it’s serialization. There is plenty of action but one thing I did notice is that there isn’t much sex contained in the story at all. That said, there is A LOT of nudity since for many of the chapters, Akane somehow finds herself completely nude when carrying out her hits. Sexual stuff aside though, Mesujan-Deka has some great artwork within its pages. Maeda drew this manga around the same time he was working on Taxi Driver so the tone between both stories is very similar. There are some great deaths too of course ranging from chest stabbings to my personal favorite; a cock getting bitten off! What a way to go!! Sadly, like much of Maeda’s work, Mesujan-Deka is long out of print now and the chances of it ever seeing the light of day again are slim at best so fans wishing to read the title will have to do the usual thing and look online for used copies. If you do happen to stumble across a copy though, I heartily recommend picking it up just for the art alone. Happy hunting!
Here is the original Japanese cover artwork (click to enlarge):