Sarai Vol. #02 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, May 23, 2004
Release Date: Thursday, March 01, 2001
Translated by:Alex Mizuno, Akira Watanabe
What They Say
Sarai's duties as a warrior maid just get tougher with every job! Fiant stone zombies, mutated villagers, and plenty of action heats up as she fights to save the human race from total abomination!
The Review: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Sarai is a battle maid in the year 2041 after some sort of genetic disorder has destroyed civilization. When people turn approximately 17 years old, they transform into monsters. 15 year old Sarai and her partner Flicker work for an agency that hires out battle maids to the people who can afford them, for protection and whatever else they desire.
In the last volume, Sarai and Flicker were sent to a rundown nunnery where only two people live, the 63 year old Mother Bujold Wistable, and the 18 year old Sister Richelle. We learn that Richelle hired the maids to protect the old woman. The natural death of a human is so rare, she?s determined to give the old woman that privilege, as well as show the villagers what it looks like. Unfortunately, some sort of monster has been menacing the village, hence the hiring of Sarai and Flicker.
We were also introduced to Michelle, a beautiful 18 year old woman who runs a bar with a young boy named Manuela. Michelle?s bar has a secondary purpose. People who realize they?re about to undergo the transformation come to the bar to have their picture taken and put on the wall before they leave to die. Barosso is a 24 year old priest who sells a drug that?s kept him human for several years now. Though a man with a cruel streak, he genuinely cares for Michelle and is her lover. Some townsfolk kidnap both Michelle and Barosso and take them to the nunnery, where their paths cross with that of Sarai and Flicker. The story ends on a cliffhanger with the maids captured by villagers.
As they're about to be taken away, stone monsters appear and kills one of the villagers. Unfortuately, one takes Sarai and Flicker. They're rescued when Richelle from the nunnery appears and manages to cut them loose. Sarai undergoes one of her mysterious transformations and destroys the monsters. Sarai and Flicker feel mortified that they had to be rescued by the person who hired them, but it turns into a fanservice fetish moment as the naked Sarai and Flicker get spanked on their bare bottoms by Richelle as punishment.
We're then introduced to a communal farm where children work. With most of the population dead by 17, most people have children by the time they're 12 or 13 and never get to see their children grow up. Communal farms raise the children and give them work. Gyu is a mean spirited and arrogant 12 year old boy who takes over one of the farms, putting him head to head with Pegento, the 12 year old tough but fair chief of the farm. Gyu considers himself superior to the other children, because his parents still live, thanks to the pills they buy from Barosso. His parents are killed in their home by someone weilding a sword, including stealing the unborn baby from the pregnant wife's womb. Gyu say Sarai leave his house, and Flicker, who is in town at the time, is arrested.
The reason for the villager's hatred of the old nun is finally revealed. Six years earlier, the village harvest festival was invaded by the stone monsters who killed all in thier path. The monsters, who were once human, responded to the nun's voice and left. The villagers believed she controlled the monsters and shunned her ever since. Now the maids are being set up for the murder of Gyu's parents and the theft of the unborn child. We also learn more about the connection of Michelle and Richelle. They are sisters who were raised at the nunnery together. Barosso was Michelle's lover, and he raped Richelle when she discovered what was going on. Michelle not only watched it, but helped him. More and more truths are revealed. What the stone monsters are, why they became stone mosters, and who set up the maids for the murder of Gyu's parents. Sarai manages to rescue Flicker, Richelle and the old nun from being lynched by the angry mob, and everyone learns who's been manipulating them. The story ends with first with Mother Wistable sacrificing herself to protect the village, and Barosso crying in pain as he discovers Michelle in the valley of stone, still warm to the touch, yet dead already.
Sarai is a violent and unpleasant story with cruel people committing terrible acts. Yet Sarai herself always manages to retain her sense of compassion and righteousness. The evil ones always reap what they sow in the end, as Barosso tragically discovers. Shibata's art is the work of a man comfortable with what he's doing, smooth, strong and expressive. The nudity and panty shots are gratuitous, but nothing more than what should be expected in this type of shonen horror manga. The English adaptation is adequate, but doesn't distinguish itself in any way.
The presentation of the book is mostly good. All sound effects are translated and retouched into English. The book is flipped to read left to right. The art reproduction is like the English script adaptation. Adequate. Like the previous volume, the book comes with a dust jacket that is almost exactly like the Japanese volume. All the same art is used, and the English logo does a very good job of emulating the look of the original logo, which is simply Sarai's name written in katakana.
If you're looking for an action filled post-apocalyptic story full of drama and fanservice, Sarai will suit you just fine. The above-average story is just icing on the cake. Keep in mind, though, that ComicsOne put the book on hiatus after volume 8 due to slow sales, despite the fact that it's still being published in Japan with 11 volumes out at the time of this review.
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: B-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: ComicsOne
Orientation: Left to Right