Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad Vol. #03 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 1-59532-772-X
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad Vol. #03

By Jarred Pine     April 24, 2006
Release Date: March 07, 2006

Beck: Mongolian Chop Squad Vol.#03

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Harold Sakuishi
Translated by:Stephen Paul
Adapted by:

What They Say
After Koyuki and Maho finish a hot-and-steamy skinny-dipping adventure, his fondness for her freewheeling spirit grows. At school, new responsibilities in music class lead to tension with a school bully--who ends up trying to blackmail him! Koyuki's life is turning into one big ball of confusion: Ryusuke is still upset with him after breaking his guitar...will things ever be the same between them?

The Review
Although not as strong as the previous two volumes, BECK continues to be a wonderful story about finding your voice. One of the better examples of shounen manga to hit US shores.

With TOKYOPOP using the original 3rd volume cover illustration from the tankoubon release for the 1st volume of their release, Gary Shum puts together a nice custom cover here using a piece of artwork from inside one of the current three volumes and coloring it in. Definitely some nice work here that is very appropriate for the title.

The print reproduction continues to be very good, with the black tones and lines looking crisp. The lighter tones are not as solid as I would like, but they look pretty good. No color plate for the volume header used this time though, which is a bummer as I'm sure the Maho fan-boys wanted their full-color bikini glory. Along with the next volume preview, TOKYOPOP includes a great extra in the form of an interview with the BEAT CRUSADERS, the wonderful pop-punk band from Japan that did the anime OP song Hit in the USA.

Harold Sakuishi's artwork continues to sit very well with me. His rubbery character designs remind me of Tohru Fujisawa (GTO), with the artwork very refined and crisp, allowing the personalities of the characters to shine through. Backgrounds are nicely rendered, although there are quite a few close-up perspectives and the blank-face syndrome shows up on a couple of occasions. The best part of the artwork is the detail, detail, detail! The guitar work is so damn sexy, from the accurate way the characters play their chords to the look and feel of the guitars themselves. Very nice.

SFX are translated with subs either in the margins or inside of the original SFX themselves. However, not all the SFX are translated, which is a bit perplexing. Obviously you don't want to overload the panels with subs, but there were a few SFX that I wanted translated. Signs and other in-panel text are translated in the margins, which can feel a bit cramped at times, especially when added with the editor's notes. For this title, I would have liked to have seen an appendix of translator notes similar to Del Rey's releases, as I think there are plenty of little cultural aspects and inside jokes to highlight. The English script continues to be very solid with honorifics left intact.

Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
In this third installment of BECK, Harold Sakuishi continues to throw more hindrances in Yukio Tanaka's way in order to force Yukio to develop his confidence and find his "voice" (both literally and figuratively). However, I am not completely sold that the new obstacles were necessary. With the introduction of a couple bullies, blackmailing, and a sexy new music teacher, I felt as if the kitchen sink was making its way into Yukio's development.

The core elements of the story remain true and are developed quite nicely. The band, BECK, is coming together, with rehearsals, gigs, and demos keeping them busy. Ryusuke was also able to woo bassist Taira away from his rival Eiji, which causes a little turf war resulting in some vandalism and Ryusuke pulling out his fabled "Lucille". We aren't quite sure why Taira decided to join BECK, other than he found that energy he was looking for. The source of that energy is revealed during one of their gigs towards the end of the volume that I must say was quite the exciting event, even if there wasn't any audible music coming out of the pages!

With the band progressing, Yukio is starting to feel left behind and a bit jealous. He's beginning to find his fire that will turn him into a guitar training machine. Yukio also does not want to face Ryusuke until he is able to get his guitar back to him that he broke earlier. All these core elements are perfect in allowing Yukio to come of age and become confident, but it's the addition of those new obstacles that I thought disrupted the natural flow of the story so far. The bullies turn out to be pretty standard material, making life hard for Yukio and forcing him to find his confidence and strength. I'm also not quite certain what purpose the attractive new music club instructor serves, other than trying to put Yukio in a position of leadership, but it feels a bit disconnected from everything else.

The core elements with Yukio finding himself through music, while watching the band BECK take off continues to be very well done. However, there are a few added obstacles thrown across Yukio's path in this volume that were a bit unnecessary and in the end disrupted the natural flow of Yukio's development. I'd much rather see Yukio develop his confidence through music and performing, not having to deal with bullies.

BECK is still very much a solid coming of age story that is filled with Sakuishi's bizarre sense of humor and a lot of great knowledge about music and the local club scenes. I hope that this bump in the road will soon pass and we can get back to the rockin' out!


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