Manga Worth Reading: Franken Fran

Franken Fran (フランケン・ふらん) is an 8-volume horror manga from 2007-2012 by Katsuhisa Kigitsu. 1

Synopsis

Madurai Fran is the “daughter”/creation of the worlds greatest doctor and his protege; however since he always seems to be away she ends up getting involved with clients who come looking for help with extreme medical cases. She may be a good enough doctor to cheat death but her misunderstanding of people is only rivaled by her lack of medical ethics.

Grafting extra arms on to herself does help her doctoral creds at the cost of her ethical ones.

Appeal

Even more than xxxHolic this is a true anthology series with most chapters playing out like Twilight Zone episodes (someone comes to Fran with a problem, she fixes the problem, the “fix” is not what they expected) with only Fran and a couple of her assistants being the only recurring characters. This does result in some pretty heavy swing in quality between chapters based on how good the endings are usually, the best either have people stumble into ironic justice (a father who murdered his son wants him resurrected as a puppet for inheritance reasons only to get the sons head grafted onto his) or in very rare cases something of a happy ending (quite possibly the most twisted version of the Gift of the Magi ever).

At the center of all of this is Fran, who manages to be very likable even as shes a psychopath under most definitions of it. Her completely void social skills help sell her as a character since in most of the chapters she really thinks shes helping people and doesn’t understand why they don’t want her “cures” or will be telling her assistants how happy things will be all satisfied with her work while the patients reality is anything but (the aforementioned two heads).

Could someone this happy be wrong? Yes, yes she can.

Downside

There are some series which are hard to rewatch/reread because of their content, Franken Fran might be the hardest to just read. Its tough to do more than one or two chapters at a time because of how in your face it can be, not to mention it also tends way more toward depressing endings (it is a horror series after all.

Theres a twisted version of Metamorphosis with an ending far darker than Kafka

In that vein, you need a pretty high tolerance for gore as every chapter has a lot of body horror and blood going on. If you have any aversion to horror as a genre this is not the series for you as it will not hold your hand the way some others will.

So… anime?

To the surprise of exactly no one who has read it- no.

Conclusion

Weeb Level: 1/10- Most of the stories are pretty generic worldwide situations, and even the few that do take place in schools don’t really have any tropes going on.

Fanservice: 4/10- In what may be the greatest false advertising campaign ever, the volume covers tend to feature Fran in some form of scintillating undress2 which is not at all represented in the actual stories. There is still some nudity, though it tends to be rather unsexily depicted.

Violence: 9/10- Seriously, stay away if you don’t like blood or gore.

Its seriously difficult finding images for this which aren’t overly gorey. This is the best I can do.

Quality: 7/10- This is a split vote grade. The horror aficionados will absolutely love this series, anyone not super deep into the genre will enjoy it with some more restraint.

Where to get it: In what is still one of the biggest shocks to me, Franken Fran is actually licensed3 and you can buy the volumes in Barnes and Noble as well as on Comixology or other eReaders. Seven Seas released the series as 4 double volume omnibuses giving you all the Fran you could possibly want.