Blade of Heaven Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: C

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  • Art Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: C
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 296
  • ISBN: 1-59532-327-9
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Left to Right

Blade of Heaven Vol. #01

By Jarred Pine     May 30, 2005
Release Date: March 08, 2005

Blade of Heaven Vol.#01

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Writer: Yong-Su Hwang / Artist: Kyung-Il Yang
Translated by:Lauren Na
Adapted by:

What They Say

After an imprisonment of five days in Heaven, which equals five years on Earth, Soma is sent to the human world to recover the lost sword. Under the supervision of the heavenly princess Aroomee, Soma must deal with the chaos that his deeds have produced.

The Review
The cover is a nice color illustration of Soma, leopard-prints and all, getting ready to strike with his sword while standing in what looks like a battlefield. The English logo takes up about the top fourth of the cover, with white lettering. Creators and volume number are located along the bottom. Overall, it’s an appropriate cover for the series and the colors are bright and eye-catching.

One aspect of translated releases I have always wished for were more wideban style formats for titles that have completed their print run in their countries of origin. This debut volume features a widen format, with its 300 page count, while still maintaining the $9.99 price tag. I think this is a great experiment by Tokyopop and I hope to see more releases like this in the future. Even with the extra page count, the print job has not suffered at all and looks fine.

The artwork looks very similar to a lot of other manwha releases that I have read. Thick, dark lines and an over-reliance on tones for shading. While it creates an interesting contrast, it ultimately lacks the warmth that hand shading and sketching achieve.

The character art is clean, although the designs feel a little too cookie-cutter for my tastes. I have the feeling I’ve seen these characters a 100 times before. There really isn’t any background art as the volume is dominated by a lot of action sequences. The action artwork is okay, with a couple nice full page layouts, but it lacks the punch to make it really pop off the page.

SFX are not translated and there is no glossary. The Korean SFX are an integral part of the artwork, but there were a few scenes where knowing what the SFX was would have helped a lot. The font is clean and easy on the eyes, with a varying style for some of the other characters.

The adaptation is a bit overboard for my tastes. Soma lets out a lot of wisecracks, which really feel like they have been sexed up a bit and have had extra flavor added in order to feel more hip. It is also a little inconsistent, as sometimes it feels quite juvenile with phrases like “Holy Underwear!” or “Holy Crapballs!”, but then some feel much more crass as Soma busts out a joke about someone “going down faster than a two-dollar whore”. Overall I just got the feeling that someone was having a bit too much fun coming up with cracks and jokes instead of just adapting the text appropriately for an English reading audience.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
Soma is a wise-cracking, obnoxious, and crude human who has been imprisoned by Heaven due to accusations of him stealing the Blade of Heaven, one of three powerful swords that saved Heaven from the demons of Hell during the Great Battle of Heaven. After winning over the affections of Princess Aroomee, who desperately wants to visit the human world, she sets him free and the two try to escape back to the mortal world. They are stopped, but then let go with the understanding that Soma must retrieve the Blade of Heaven from the mortal world, while being accompanied by Aroomee and General Winter, one of the Four Heavenly Guardians. During their journey they will encounter demons sent by Hell, who are out to retrieve the sword for Lord Barurugo, as he plans to take over Heaven.

The storyline feels like something that has been done a million times over. Rather than providing something more serious and intriguing like another manwha, Priest, Blade of Heaven takes the fantasy/comedy approach, and does it in extremely average fashion. The comedy relies on way to many clichés, the characters are either annoying or non-memorable, and the storyline feels tired. By the end of the book I really wanted to choke Soma, as his wise cracks and attitude were really getting on my nerves. There is no depth with the characters, which made it hard to connect and continue for 300 pages.

There were a few bright spots though. The story has a decent progression to it, with revelations and espionage, giving hope that something griping could come out of it. There is plenty of action, even if it’s not the most exciting and a little clichéd (gotta save those ultimate moves for last!). In the end, everything is run-of-the-mill and there’s nothing really there digest or hold on to.

So far after the first volume, Blade of Heaven is an average fantasy/comedy manwha with an uninspired storyline and flat humor. There are a couple moments worthy of a chuckle, and some mildly interesting plot twists that were telegraphed, but overall everything has that recycled feeling to it. I also was not a big fan of the adaptation as it just feels like it is trying to hard to sound hip or funny. I do applaud Tokyopop for the wideban style experimental release while keeping the price at $9.99. I hope it stays that way throughout the planned 15 volume release, and that the story becomes more interesting down the road.


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