Brave Story, Volume One -

Manga Review

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Story by: Miyuki Miyabe
  • Art by: Yoichiro Ono
  • Publisher: TOKYOPOP
  • Rating: Older Teen (16+)
  • Price: $9.99

Brave Story, Volume One

By Nadia Oxford     June 02, 2007

"Brave Story" Volume One by Miyuki Miyabe and Yoichiro Ono.
High school student Wataru is a video game wizard who is pulled into a dangerous alternate world by a "mysterious transfer student" with eerie powers. There, he discovers he's destined to become a great warrior of the mysterious realm--if he can ever get over being a massive wuss. Sound familiar? Brave Story definitely shares some themes typical of action-adventure manga, but it also offers some unexpected emotional twists.
The game-loving Wataru spends a lot of his time in an arcade located next to a half-finished skyscraper. Local legend states the construction company responsible ran out of money before the project could be completed … and the skeletal structure is a favourite haunt for ghosts and monsters.
Wataru doesn't believe it until the arrival of a transfer student named Ashikawa ushers in strange times. Ashikawa is maddeningly calm and polite, but Wataru unwittingly stumbles on the boy as he seals away some monsters near the fabled construction site. Real monsters; not creatures from a video game. Wataru soon experiences the mystical, monster-ridden world of "Vision" for himself and learns about his destiny to become a "Traveler," a warrior of Vision.
The Brave Story manga is based on a hit novel, and it's apparent parts of the story are better suited for the novel format; characters are sometimes easier to sympathize with when they're narrated. Wataru, for example, is a typical goof-off who seems to excel at nothing but video games and it's a little difficult to empathize with him early in the manga. As the story progresses, however, the reader learns about his family troubles and how they affect his decisions in Vision and the real world. Much the same can be said about Ashikawa, whose family was once rocked by a scandal of significant proportions.
Brave Story does mix fantasy and reality by unique means. Typical alternate universe manga doesn't often go heavily into the protagonist's home life; he or she often comes across the fantastic while fleeing emotional trauma instigated by school bullies, or else the protagonist is typically clumsy and becomes a superstar in his or her new world. The world is Vision is dangerous, but its unforgiving landscape seems to somehow reflect the mental state of its inhabitants.
Given time, Brave Story has the potential to develop a compelling story. As the tale currently stands, it might also slip into a cliché-filled mediocrity. It's worth following to see what path it chooses. Brave Story retails for $9.99.


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