Ichi the Killer (manga)

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Ichi the Killer
Ichi the Killer v1 cover.jpg
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 (List of volumes)
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
Wikipe-tan face.svg 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 (Shiroishi Hajime) 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, a concealed blade in his left boot, and a psychological kill switch, Ichi turns into a ruthless killer hunting down yakuza with a streak for sadism.
  • 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.
  • Jii-san (Old Geezer) 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 kumichou as Anjou Yoshio is being searched for.
  • Noboru is a member of Jii-san's group whose weapon is a firearm.
  • Inoue (Kanou) is an excommunicated member of the Anjougumi and a current member of Jii-san'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 bedridden by the resulting torture and is convinced by Jii-san's group to employ them to eliminate Kakiharagumi.
  • Kaneko is Anjougumi's hitman and one of Kakihara's closest henchmen. He exhibits a fear similar to Ichi's and desires to prove himself.
  • 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 assists Kakihara in locating members of 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 ostracized and raped.
  • Ryuu is a Chinese member of Jii-san's group that works as a gigolo.
  • The twins (Jirou and Saburou) are members of Kakihara's former kumichou Atougumi. They are very competitive, often resulting in shows of one-upmanship fatal to others. Jirou has inhuman strength, while Saburou is good with a short knife.
  • Takeshi is Kaneko's son and often witnesses Ichi crying after his murders.



The manga has been compiled into ten volumes by Shogakukan. There is also a prequel titled Ichi.


The manga has been adapted into a film of the same name directed by Takashi Miike and the prequel into a film called 1-Ichi by Masato Tanno.


The manga has also been adapted into an OAV called Koroshiya 1: The Animation Episode 0.


Reviewing the OAV, Theron Martin from Anime News Network felt that the story is "perfectly believable" and "convince[s] the viewer that Ichi's lethal tendencies didn't come from nowhere" because it follows the "common elements you hear about in the backgrounds of true killers". He dismissed the "substandard animation" as problematic but praised the music of "heavy driving techno themes" that provide an "edgy mood and tone for the series".[5]

See also[edit]


  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. 
  5. ^ Theron Martin, "Ichi The Killer: Episode 0 Review", Anime News Network, Mar 30, 2005. Retrieved 2016-12-28.

External links[edit]