Gorgeous Irene (ゴージャス★アイリン Gōjasu Airin) is a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hirohiko Araki. It was first published by Shueisha in the Autumn Special of Weekly Shonen Jump on October 1, 1985 and later released in Issue #1 of Super Jump on December 29, 1986. The manga is split into 2 chapters, each with around 40 pages.
The tankōbon version also features Araki's debut work Poker Under Arms, and his earlier works Say Hello to Virginia, and Cool Shock B.T. Some earlier prints and the digital version also includes Outlaw Man.
Chapter 1: Lauper's Palace
Irene Rapona is a teenage girl with a youthful face and gentle personality. Despite being really gullible and innocent, she is secretly a professional assassin who is able to transform into any type of woman using special makeup. Due to her personality, she is bullied by her classmates.
A young man is taken to Irene by her butler. He hires Irene for assassinating Lauper, a female gang leader in the fictional Swing Town (スウィング・タウン Suwingu Taun). Lauper replaced the former leader and killed the young man's father. Murders and the crime rate increased, and even children and the elderly were not spared. Lauper starts selling drugs in schools and only keeps female slaves with her in her gang.
Ten days later, the man is caught by Lauper as she discovers that he hired an assassin. Irene reveals herself disguised as an old woman who was hired in the gang. She uses her Battle Makeup to transform her appearance as well as enhance her killer instincts. The gang fires their guns at her but Irene had replaced all their bullets with blanks while she was previously working with them. She tricks them by having the actual bullets hidden in her glove, making it appear as if she caught the bullets. Irene then fires her fake nails at each gang member and kills all of them, aside from Lauper.
Lauper attempts to attack Irene with a giant chainsaw, but Irene dodges all of it and learns Lauper's movements with her special Death Dance. Irene's Heart Magic allows her to take control of Lauper's body after Lauper smells the scent of her perfume. She manipulates Lauper into cutting herself in half with her chainsaw by using her Execution Makeup. Irene expresses sorrow that the young man spoke about her to Lauper. She lets him live because she had promised to and then leaves.
Chapter 2: The Girl in the Slums
Irene's butler is killed by an unknown assassin. He has a squirrel go find Irene to tell her that an assassin is after her before he dies. The gang puts out a bulletin alert for Irene, warning that Irene is extremely dangerous and has hypnotic powers. In the past, Irene's father was a killer born in the underworld. He was loyal to his boss, but eventually he and his boss were killed by another organization. Irene had inherited his killer instincts and deadly skills.
Meanwhile, a young man named Michael relaxes in the slums of Harlem in New York City. He sees Irene walking by and is shocked as to what a young girl is doing there on her own. The butler's squirrel finds Irene and tells her the news. However, Michael suddenly grabs Irene's purse and knocks her down, demanding her money. He realizes she only has makeup in there and nothing else. Angered at Irene lacking fear, Michael takes out a knife. Irene simply grabs the knife with two fingers and then hugs Michael. Some thugs appear asking Michael to share Irene with them but Michael beats them up.
They go to a bar and meet a man who offers to make Irene rich as a film star. Irene agrees but Michael elbows the man in the face, warning Irene not to trust everyone she meets. They leave and reach the subway, where a man sells Irene an old racing stub. At first Michael refuses to take care of Irene anymore but when he hears that she has no home and her father and butler are both dead, Michael takes her to his house.
The next day, Michael and Irene rob a store for money. The assassin who killed Irene's butler meets with the man who offered to make Irene a star. She shows him a picture and the man says he saw her recently, although she looked different like she was wearing a disguise. Suddenly, the female assassin arrives at Michael's house and breaks through their window. With her mysterious phantom tattoo ability which lets her grow an arm from her back, the woman stabs Irene. However, Irene had planted mines in the floors of Michael's home since she expected assassins to target her. One of the mines explode, causing the woman to lose a foot. The assassin then summons vicious fire ants from her tattoo which latch onto Irene's face. She states that the species would eat through Irene's skin and burrow into her brain. The assassin herself is unharmed by her ants because she wears a special repellent.
Irene transforms using her Battle Makeup and reveals her killer instinct. The makeup uses the muscles in Irene's face to force the insects out of her skin. Irene then dances and draws on her opponent's lips using her lipstick, preventing the woman from being able to close her mouth. Since the woman doesn't have repellent in her mouth, the fire ants begin crawling into her mouth and eat her from within. Irene apologizes to Michael for lying to him and gives him a kiss before leaving.
Michael later discovers the old racing stub that Irene bought was actually a big winner and moves to Los Angeles to start his music career. He eventually releases a debut single about a mysterious girl, selling over 600,000 copies. Irene had vanished and no one had ever seen her again. On the seventh day of the month, it is reported that a mafia boss named Tony Bormont had strangely committed suicide in his Chicago estate by stabbing himself in the throat. He had given the order to have many of his rival gangs across the U.S. assassinated. Police attempt to continue the investigation as his motivations for suicide were unknown.
- Araki came up with Gorgeous Irene's plot while pursuing physical power. He named her "Irene" because he thought it sounded cute and started to draw her to see if he could actually draw girls. In the end, he admits that he thinks he couldn't draw girls.
- Several of the characters in the manga have similar appearances and were probable influences of those from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure:
- Despite the popularity of Gorgeous Irene, Araki decided not to have it serialized as a weekly manga. In that time period, he felt something was off and thought a female protagonist wouldn't go well in his works. Years later, he revisits the idea with Jolyne Cujoh as the first female protagonist of JoJo.
- In Chapter 1 of Phantom Blood, Dio Brando is seen reading a book bearing the title "Gorgeous Irene" as a self-reference.
- In Episode 10: JoJo of New York, the cafe where Joseph Joestar fights Straizo is called "Irene's Cafe". JoJo's Pitter-Patter Pop! includes the cafe in its New York furniture.
- Gorgeous Irene is mentioned on a TV channel when Joseph Joestar uses Hermit Purple on a television in SC Episode 8: Devil.
- Rohan Kishibe's bookshelf in I Want You, the ending theme of Diamond is Unbreakable, has Gorgeous Irene alongside Baoh the Visitor and other works of Araki.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Eyes of Heaven contains a reference to Gorgeous Irene, as the title of an opera advertised in the Naples Station stage.