Rasetsu Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Kate O'Neil
Review Date: Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Release Date: Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Not much stands out in this supernatural fight for love except for the feisty heroine. 

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Chika Shiomi
Translation: Kinami Watabe
Adaptation: Kinami Watabe

What They Say
Yako Hoshino, a young man with spiritual powers of his own, comes to the agency seeking help with a possessed book. He's seen a lot of strange phenomena in his day, but the last thing he expects to see is Rasetsu bearing a striking resemblance to his old love Yurara!

The Review!
“Rasetsu” is a part of Viz's Shojo Beat line and retains Beat line’s no frills design. The paper stock is average and the printing is solid.  The cover features Rasetsu showing off the rose tattoo on her chest and Yako standing behind her with his arms folded, with a few flowers floating around them.  A blur effect frames the illustration, probably to cover the fact that it’s part of a larger illustration, which is featured as a center spread in the book. The title is written in a spooky, wavering font.  The cover elements don’t mesh particularly well but it does show you exactly what you’re getting. The back cover has a smaller illustration of Resetsu against a mauve background with the summary blurb.  The sound effects have been retouched and translated into English replacing the Japanese ones in the art.  Occasional footnotes at the bottom of a page serve as translation notes.  A few pages also include the author’s notes in the margin.  The translation is solid and reads smoothly.

Chika Shiomi’s art is standard shoujo in style.  The characters have long legs and wispy hair inked in thin lines.  Backgrounds are sparse and exist only to set the scene.  Screentone is used for shading, prints on outfits and in the background of a few of the smaller panels.  Many of the panels focus on close ups of the characters conversing.  Most of the action scenes are quick and rely on speed lines to convey the spiritual powers involved in combat.   The character designs are attractive and there are some nice larger panels and full page spreads to show them off.  Rasetsu actually looks older than other manga counterparts her age (18).  Sometimes the characters look odd when viewed in profile, but it’s a minor distraction.

Rasetsu Hyuga is an exorcist who works for Hiichiro Amakawa’s excorcism agency.  She’s brash, demanding, and good at what she does.  Enter Yako Hoshino, a no-nonsense librarian who comes to the agency looking for help to banish a spirit trapped in a book.  Yako and Resetsu immediately get off on the wrong foot.  He has spiritual powers of his own, although they’re limited.  He can create a barrier out of water to ward off spirits.  Rasetsu, who had been complaining about doing more than her fair share of the work, latches on to Yako’s talents and recruits him to the agency, by force.  Yako is stuck working with a group of what he considers to be weirdos and is left with mixed feelings about Rasetsu.  (She just happens to bare an uncanny resemblance to a former high school sweetheart.)
While each chapter presents a ghost or demon to be removed, they are just conversation starters to allow the characters to interact.  Each conflict is resolved in a few pages, often with Rasetsu using her spiritual energy to blast them into oblivion.  Yako settles in to his new job and banters with Resetsu while she scarfs down copious amounts of refined suger to refill her spiritual powers.  Rasetsu may be a strong leading lady now, but in her not-so-distant past she was a frightened girl forced to drop out of school after she was attacked by an evil spirit that placed a claim on her.  When she turns twenty, she’ll be his, unless she can find true love before then.  If Rasetsu feels doomed at this scenario she doesn’t show it.  Yako doesn’t know about the “true love” caveat and becomes frustrated with Rasetsu’s attitude toward her situation.  Add to that the possessive behavior of Rasetsu’s coworker and fellow exorcist, Kuryu, and you have what might be the beginning of a love triangle.  Or maybe Kuryu has an ulterior motive, which hasn’t yet been shown.

“Rasetsu” is a spin-off of Chika Shiomi’s “Yurara” series, which takes place at least five years before this tale.  The need-to-know parts of Yako’s back-story are explained during chapter 3 of this volume, so new readers can jump in without being completely out of the loop.

In Summary
“Rasetsu” struggles from being overly familiar.  Nothing sets it apart from its peers or the author’s past works.  Rasetsu, herself, is fun to watch in her interactions with her coworkers and clients and remains likeable despite her manipulative side.  Strong female leads aren’t uncommon in Chika Shiomi’s series, and that remains one of the appealing qualities of this otherwise average title.  I’d recommend it to fans of “Yurara” who want to continue to enjoy this universe, but otherwise the story feels played-out and a bit stale.

Mania Grade: C
Art Rating: C+
Packaging Rating: B-
Text/Translation Rating: A-
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 8.99
Pages: 192
ISBN: 978-1421527505
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Rasetsu