It is once again time for Hump Day Husbandos, and it may be the most obscure pick I’ve gone for in this column to date. So let’s get some basic details covered on the source of Badou Nails first and foremost, since it’s an overlooked and underappreciated manga.
Dogs: Bullets & Carnage is written and illustrated by Shirow Miwa. He is possibly best known for being the artist behind several Supercell album covers, but has also provided character designs for video games such as the 7th Dragon series and anime series including Kiznaiver and Joker Game.
Who is Badou Nails?
Badou Nails is one of the four main characters in Dogs: Bullets & Carnage, which is Miwa’s best-selling manga. The story is set in a futuristic Europe where experiments on individuals have resulted in a diverse, ruthless and dangerous city where violence and anarchy linger around every corner. The city’s lowest depths hide the most disturbing parts of the system; meanwhile, its main characters’ pasts, presents and futures come together to uncover the mysteries and horrors of their disturbing world.
The manga’s main selling point is how it manages to link many aspects and events of its characters together with each passing chapter. Pieces of characters’ backstories and related information are gradually revealed, bringing its protagonists closer to their own goals — and their collective goals as a unit.
And who happens to be my favourite part of said unit? Badou Nails — the unlucky freelance information broker and photographer who has a nasty habit of chain smoking. Not only is his name homage to one of Shirow’s favourite bands ever, Nine Inch Nails, but just like the manga itself, Badou has both style and substance. Need any more convincing?
Why we love Badou Nails
Fan-favourite characters in the series include the edgy and captivating leading man Haine, who has the most heavy and emotionally driven character arcs in the story, and main female lead Naoto, who possesses a badass attitude and a no-nonsense and headstrong battle spirit. Naoto is impressively integral to the story and has plenty of her own agency — particularly compared to other seinen series.
But ultimately, for me, it is Badou who is my personal highlight of the manga.
While his bad luck is humorous enough, his backstory helps in shaping his character into being far more than just comic relief. He is ultimately an individual who has suffered loss, uses violence to cope, and struggles to survive in this ruthless and cruel world — despite how tough his exterior appears to be.
When his signature cigarette is not dangling from his mouth, it is more often than not a sign that carnage is about to start; his chilled out attitude is quick to disappear in favour of gun-wielding antics and mayhem when he is forced to cope without nicotine.
So while he is often given the majority of silly antics and humorous dialogue as moments for the manga to breathe when it gets too dark, he has his own significance to the plot and finds his own place in the events that unfold; meanwhile, he complements the other characters and is memorable in his own right. Given how often the series’ stylish action turns gruesome and bloody within a single flick of a page, it’s always refreshing when he manages to keep things light-hearted and grounded.
And just like his fellow main characters, Badou is as intriguing and well-rounded as the others. As each of them are antiheroes, the manga not only challenges the likability, relatability and morality of its protagonists, but allows them to feel impressively — and sometimes uncomfortably — human with their many shortcomings, questionable behaviour and attitudes.
And Badou is always at the heart of it all, even if he has no idea of it — all the way through the main cast’s unusual and always evolving sense of camaraderie, and the way in which they each overcome their own traumas while being there for one another.
Why you’ll love Badou Nails
Dogs: Bullets & Carnage is often compared to Gangsta and Jormungand for its action-heavy pages in the midst of in-depth exploration of personal traumas and emotional baggage. It can be looked on as a modern manga take on something like Sin City, exploring hard-hitting and emotional themes such as death, revenge and loss — and it’s not shy about getting graphically disturbing and depressing at times.
Who knew a nicotine deprived Badou only ever adds further entertainment when the going gets too tough for the gang? While he’s undoubtedly unhinged in these moments, you can be rest assured that Badou’s individual hijinks and quirks will make you a fan of his sooner rather than later. Dogs: Bullets & Carnage has continuously been unpredictable, and if there’s one single character who manages to be compelling yet erratic all on his own, it’s Badou.
And as yet another manga designed character with long-hair and an eye-patch (it’s very much a “type” of mine at this point), it was love at first sight on my part. The OVA adaptation also put Akira Ishida in charge of bringing his character to life in the anime.
Not only was it a breath of fresh air to hear Ishida let loose and have more fun than usual compared to other more popular characters he has voiced in the past — Gaara from Naruto, Kent from Amnesia and Satoshi from D.N.Angel being probably the most well-known examples — but it was also a delight to get a real sense of Badou’s character easily and effortlessly through Ishida’s performance — particularly in Badou’s character-specific OVA episode.
On that note, you may want to give the anime adaptation a watch first before starting the manga, as it’s probably the best way to approach the series for the first time. With just four episodes at a run-time of 15 minutes each, the anime brings together the introductory chapters of the manga with each character’s origin stories, allowing you to get the best idea of the action, plot progression, and character dynamics and interactions — and a good idea of what to expect going forward.
But remember, it only gets more manic and off-the-rails the further you get into it! If only Miwa would bring it back from hiatus now — call this a desperate plea to give this manga and Badou the long-overdue attention they deserve!
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