Strain (ストレイン, Sutorain) is manga series written by Yoshiyuki Okamura and illustrated by Ryoichi Ikegami, published Shogakukan's Big Comic Superior from 1996 to 1998.
Mayo is a professional assassin who is hired by the "Organization" to kill the mother of a young prostitute, Shion. Shion pleads with Mayo, and convinces him to give up on his mission.
As Mayo takes pity on Shion and her mother, who offer him more money, the leaders of the Organization pronounce a death sentence on him.
A review on MyAnimeList by Beatnik:
"From the duo that gave the world the classic Sanctuary, Strain is like that epic political/gangster thriller on a micro scale.
Author Yoshiyuki Okamura aka Sho Fumimura aka Buronson (so named after Charles Bronson, which makes a lot of sense) delves into socio-economics this time, and brightens the story with viscous violence courtesy of the backstreets of late 90's Malaysia.
His skill is in blending topical insight of Asia's standing in the world; the criminal underworld’s relationship with legitimate business, along with more compelling conflicts in the form of friendship and family, and how politics can send people hurtling towards each other violently.
Strain concerns itself with Japanese mega-corporation Kusaka and its attempts to solidify Asia's role in the oil industry. Buronson gives us a quick lesson in business: there are two main tiers to the oil industry: upstream (production of oil) and downstream (distribution), with westerners sitting pretty at the top in the lucrative upstream position, while Asia as ever is trailing behind the west. Just like Sanctuary, the main characters in this tale seek to usurp the established system and give Asia a chance to unshackle itself from its bindings.
So while Kusaka corp is trying to consolidate power by looking for oil in Asia to get into an upstream position, our main protagonist Mayo is going about his seedy life in Malaysia bumping into loveable maniacs like Angel, a bisexual homicidal cop with a tragic past.
Without going too much into the plot, what we ultimately get in this manga is a pretty break-neck paced thriller about corporations seeking power, offspring demanding answers for their reason for existing, unlikely brotherhoods forming while others disintegrate, spontaneous violence from psychopaths, history and economics lessons, and lots of excellent quotes as usual from Buronson aka Sho Fumimura aka Yoshiyuki Okamura. (Stop confusing us man, just pick one!)
Ryoichi Ikegami's art also deserves a mention; the artist continues his brilliant realist depiction of landscapes, characters and action. Everything just looks classy and mature, but even more importantly it’s staged very well. His pay-offs are superb, they don’t need double page spreads to make impact; he can pull satisfying panels out from nowhere.
Strain is a great thriller that occasionally rises above its pulpy nature, with great story and action. It enlightens the reader while satisfying them with drama. Although some of its twists and turns might be too much for some readers, you have to focus on the actions of the characters not the logistics; it’s all thematically consistent, and just very entertaining. It keeps the narrative fresh and lively, there's no point at all where the manga lulls, it’s consistently hitting you with engrossing content.
Strain speeds along to an ending that feels too soon but awash in poetic justice. Five volumes are good for pace, but this manga could have been on the level of Sanctuary if it were similar in length, such is the mastery of the duo behind these brilliant stories."