Hyde & Closer Vol. #04 (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, April 08, 2011
Release Date: Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Shun finds himself with a new ally before the mysterious man in the window makes his formal appearance.

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Haro Aso

What They Say
A reformed hoodlum is powerless to stop an unscrupulous sorcerer who can break his opponent's bones with a chance roll of a die. But should a guardian angel happen to appear with a chainsaw in hand, maybe luck will be on his side...

The Review:
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The fourth volume of this series dropped into my lap and having not ready too much from the Shonen Sunday line, I was curious to see what it's all about. The book has a different approach to magic in the world where the lead character is that of Shun, a middle school student whose grandfather is apparently one of, if not the, most powerful sorcerers in the world. Except that he's been missing for six years and is believed to be dead, with the family now starting to actually admit that it's pretty likely at one stage in the book here. The back cover of the book actually does a nice job of explaining the basics and make it easy to jump into the book, whose first chapter here largely covers some character reminiscing, a little drama and some mild laughs.

The bulk of the book is given over to two stories, with 'Tin' running five chapters and the first four chapters of 'Life and Death' after that. The 'Tin' storyline introduces us to another sorcerer that Shun comes into contact with, which initially has Shun really nervous because every sorcerer that he's run into so far is trying to kill him based off of the message sent out by the mysterious man in the window. As it turns out, this particular sorcerer is named Kazan and he's taken on the role of a protector of children at a church that was abandoned by the Father there because of another sorcerer that wants to lay waste to it because it impacts the ley lines of the land. And because he's just that much of a jerk, too. Kazan and Shun actually get to sparring a little until they realize they're both decent guys and Shun heads off. What the book gives us is an extended period with Kazan where we get his history, learn the rough side of him and how he repented for his sins, which works surprisingly well in making him a decent character with a bit of personality. The kids he's with are a little annoying and it does lead to an inevitable battle, which Shun has to step into as well. Being unfamiliar with the powers prior to this fight, it's a little disjointed and unusual, but seems to make consistent sense within the story.

The second story is where things really start to feel like it works well as it decides to seemingly skip ahead significantly because Shun has grown stronger quicker than the mysterious man thought he might, so he's had to change his plans. It's nice to see that the apparent villains plans get changed up pretty early on here. What isn't a surprise is that he basically lays out his reasoning for everything with a whole lot of exposition, but it's exposition that works as we learn about an egg that's tens of thousands of years old that has been built up as a curse item that he wants. His end goal is to wish death upon humanity, as he obviously has issues, and he wants to lure out Shun's grandfather by threatening Shun's life. As it turns out, said grandfather is actually the only thing blocking the mysterious man from his goal and has done so for six years. That puts Shun in a good position since he's just happy his grandfather is alive and that provides extra motivation for dealing with the bad guy.

In Summary:
With this volume of the series, it's a mixed bag of material that doesn't quite draw you in but feels like it has a better idea of what it wants to do overall. Aso's artwork is about what I expected for a Shonen Sunday title with decent layouts but there's a certain overly busy nature to a lot of it as well that's a little off-putting. The book is surprisingly exposition heavy with a lot of character material laid out, but it falls short of feeling like a series of natural revelations. I do like where it's gong with the egg that can provide an immense amount of curse power and the story involving Shun's grandfather as it builds things up to a good level but still has a lot to work with. The 'Tin' storyline drew me in less, but I definitely liked the background that they gave Kazan and that Shun was largely absent from a lot it, allowing Kazan to stand on his own and tie into things with Shun in a bit more of a natural way. There's plenty to like here, but it's definitely a shonen book that doesn't stretch itself much.

Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translation Rating: B
Age Rating: 16 and Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 192
ISBN: 9781421534275
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left