Ichi the Killer (manga)

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Ichi the Killer
Cover of Koroshiya Ichi, vol. 1
(Koroshiya Ichi)
Genre Drama, Mystery, Crime fiction
Written by Hideo Yamamoto
Published by Shogakukan
Demographic Seinen
Magazine Weekly Young Sunday
Original run 19982001
Volumes 10
Original video animation
Ichi The Killer: Episode 0
Directed by Shinji Ishihira
Written by Sakichi Sato
Music by Yui Takase
Studio AIC
Licensed by
Released September 27, 2002
Runtime 50 minutes
Related works
Portal icon Anime and Manga portal

Ichi the Killer (殺し屋1 Koroshiya Ichi?) is a seinen manga series written and illustrated by Hideo Yamamoto. The series revolves around Ichi, a psychologically troubled killing machine, and his confrontation with the yakuza of Kabukichō, Shinjuku. The manga was serialized in the Shogakukan magazine Weekly Young Sunday from 1998 to 2001 and has been collected into ten tankōbon volumes in Japan.[1][2]

In 2001, the manga was adapted into a live-action film directed by Takashi Miike. An anime original video animation (OVA) titled Ichi the Killer: Episode 0 (殺し屋1 The Animation Episode 0 Koroshiya Ichi The Animation Episode 0?) was produced by AIC and released in Japan in 2002. The OVA has been licensed for release in North America and the United Kingdom by Central Park Media and in Australia and New Zealand by Siren Visual.[3][4] A second live-action film, 1-Ichi, was directed by Masahito Tanno and released in Japan in 2003.


Using Ichi as a tool, Jii-san plots to kill Anjougumi's Kumichou (leader) and steal his money. With Anjou's death, Anjou's top yakuza, Kakihara, sets out to find his Kumichou's murderer. While Kakihara searches for Ichi, Ichi effortlessly kills off remaining members of the Anjougumi. This continuous cycle of killing and searching leads the two closer together revealing Ichi's psychological manipulation and Kakihara's obsession of pain and torture. When the two finally meet, the two confront their deepest and suppressed desires resulting in Ichi's psychological recovery and Kakihara's demise.


  • Ichi is the main character in the series. He is psychologically and emotionally disturbed to the point where he acts as a child living in an adult's body. When faced with a confrontation, Ichi bursts into tears and breaks down emotionally. Even with his cowardly personality, Ichi has trained extensively in the martial arts. With this training, concealed blades in his boots, and a psychological kill switch, Ichi turns into a ruthless killer hunting down yakuza.
  • Kakihara is a yakuza boss and Ichi's prime enemy. He is tired of everything in life and lives to inflict pain on others and even himself. His most notable characteristics are the deep gashes on his cheeks. These gashes allow him to open his mouth to ridiculous levels in a snake like fashion and they are subsequently held together by piercings. He lives his life for sadomasochism.
  • Old Geezer (Jii-san) is the mastermind behind the unrest in the Anjougumi family as well as the puppet master making Ichi kill.
  • Anjou Yoshio (Kumichou) is the head of the Anjougumi yakuza family. His murder, which is first disguised as a disappearance, leads Kakihara to search for Ichi.
  • Nakazawa Toshiyuki is a head member of the Anjougumi and takes the position of interim Kumi as Anjou Yoshio is being searched for.
  • Noboru is a member of the Geezer's group.
  • Inoue (Kanou) is an excommunicated member of the Anjougumi and a current member of the Geezer's group. He is also a heroin addict that has undergone plastic surgery to remain hidden in Shinjuku.
  • Suzuki is a member of the Funaki yakuza family. He is accused of kidnapping Anjou's Kumi. He is tortured and reveals that he was trespassing on Anjou's URA-Video business.
  • Kaneko is a member of the Anjougumi and one of Kakihara's closest henchmen.
  • Norio is a young boy who goes to the same martial arts dojo as Ichi. He constantly gets beat up and goes to Ichi for help.
  • Sheila is a prostitute that Ichi frequently visits. She has many bruises that are inflicted by her pimp, leading Ichi to have flashbacks of his past.
  • Karen is a hostess and one of Kakihara's friends. She advises Kakihara to check heroin routes to find Jii-san's group.
  • Tachibana is a girl from Ichi's first year in high school. When trying to save Ichi from bullies, she was raped.


Volume 1[edit]

Trying to raise turmoil and make money in the yakuza world of Shinjuku Kabuki-Cho, Jii-san plots to kill the Kumichou of the Anjougumi. On a night where the Kumi is visiting his mistress, Jii-san sends Ichi to kill. Jii-san and his crew quickly clean up the bodies and steal money from the Kumi's safe. Before leaving Jii-san leaves a single clue for the yakuza, a number "1" written in blood. The next day, Anjou's top yakuza, Kakihara, discovers that his Kumi is missing and begins his search.

While Kakihara searches, Ichi is depicted as a psychologically troubled character, haunted by dreams of being bullied as a child. He lives in the countryside and works at a machine factory, but even with his attempts to work well with others, Ichi often finds himself excluded. The only thing that gives him any real confidence are the martial arts. With the martial arts, Ichi works to strengthen his legs for killing, but also uses his skills to train a kid, Norio, to defend himself against bullies. When training in the martial arts cannot keep Ichi occupied, he consults a prostitute, Sheila, for relief.

Volume 2[edit]

Jii-san misleads Kakihara into believing that the Funaki family has kidnapped Anjou's Kumi, and that Suzuki is at the center of the crime. Suzuki is caught and tortured for information—clearly breaking yakuza family rules. The torturing stops when Funaki's Kumi arrives. To appease the Funaki family and avoid a yakuza war, Kakihara cuts off the tip of his tongue as payment and sets his search for Jii-san.

While Jii-san's plot unfolds, Ichi continues his life in the countryside. Like before, when Ichi can not stay occupied with martial arts, Ichi once again visits Sheila for relief, but this time finds her face bandaged and her body severely bruised. Sheila tells Ichi that she wants her pimp dead. That night, Ichi follows Sheila home and witnesses her pimp physically and sexually abusing her.

Volume 3[edit]

After talking with Karen, Kakihara finds out that one of Jii-san's crew is a heroin addict. By tracking down heroin distributors, Kakihara eventually finds one of Jii-sans crew members, Inoue. While torturing Inoue for information about Anjou's whereabouts, Kakihara finds Anjou's stolen money in Inoue's room. After more torture, Inoue reveals that he is actually Kanou, an excommunicated Anjou member. In a state of hysteria, Inoue reveals that Anjou is dead and that Ichi is the killer. Inoue is killed shortly after.

While Inoue is tortured, Jii-san and the rest of his crew confront the crippled Suzuki dressed up as Chinese gang members. Jii-san's crew pretend to kill Suzuki, but instead strike a deal to kill the entire Anjou yakuza family for three million dollars.

The morning after Inoue's death and Jii-san's deal, Ichi has another dream but this time about a girl being raped. After waking from the dream, Ichi begins to make connections between his dream and the recent witnessing of Sheila's abuse. Determined to avenge Sheila, Ichi sharpens his bladed boots and sets out to confront Sheila's pimp. When Ichi comes face to face with the pimp, he starts forming parallels between his dream and reality. A short flashback reveals an emotional breakdown in his past encounter with a bully, prompting Ichi to burst into tears and breakdown psychologically. In his unstable state of mind, Ichi goes into a killing rampage leaving the pimp sliced in half. Sheila enters the room shocked and angry at Ichi. Remembering Jii-san's orders to kill anyone that sees him, Ichi bursts into tears again and regretfully kills Sheila.

Volume 4[edit]

Kakihara mourns the death of Anjou and soon breaks his ties with the yakuza family, creating the Kakiharagumi. Kakihara goes rogue, and bullies and tortures people in Shinjuku to maintain business. Coming out of one of his torture sessions, Kakihara unknowingly runs into Ichi. Ichi falls off his bike in front of Kakihara. When the two look face to face, Ichi has another flashback of being bullied. Ichi is punched in the face, but leaves relatively unharmed.

Later that day, Ichi and Jii-san meet. Jii-san suspects Ichi has been killing unordered and grows irritated. Ichi reveals that he has been having dreams and also reveals that he is more psychologically troubled than previously thought. Shortly after, Ichi is assigned to live in a telephone club in the building where the newly formed Kakiharagumi resides. While living in his new room, Ichi gets calls from strangers about SM. These phone calls serve the same thrill Ichi had with Sheila.

Jii-san assigns Ichi to kill three people in the Kakiharagumi. Jii-san justifies killing these people by persuading Ichi that these three men resemble the bullies Ichi had as a child.


  1. ^ Shogakukan staff. "殺し屋1(イチ) / 1" [Koroshiya Ichi / 1]. Shogakukan. Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  2. ^ Shogakukan staff. "殺し屋1(イチ) / 10" [Koroshiya Ichi / 10]. Shogakukan. Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  3. ^ Koulikov, Mikhail (June 22, 2004). "Anime Next Panel Reports". Anime News Network. Retrieved April 17, 2012. 
  4. ^ Siren Visual staff. "Ichi the Killer (Animated Version)". Archived from the original on August 22, 2006. Retrieved April 17, 2012. 

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