Baby Birth Vol. #02 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, June 06, 2004
Release Date: Saturday, November 01, 2003
Writer/Artist:Story: Sukehiro Tomita
Art: Haruhiko Mikimoto
Translated by:Nan Rymer
What They Say
Demons on the verge of a vicious breakout! The monstrous Suspician draws ever closer to ending its ages-long banishment. However, since Hizuru's best friend was injured during the last battle with the demons, the guilt-ridden young mystical warrior is reluctant to fight the Suspicion again. Taking advantage of their adversary's indecision, the demons are using someone very close to Hizuru to destroy the world's only hope... and then the world itself!
The Review: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Hizuru is a talented figure skate with no self-confidence. Takuya is a brilliant composer and musician with an ego to match. The two are paired together to save the world from an invasion by demons, call the Suspicion.
With Hizuru's best friend Ichigo in the hospital after being rescued from the demons, Hizuru wants nothing further to do fighting. Meahwhile, the demons are using the heartbreak of Hizuru's lifelong friend and confident, Coach Minamida, to destroy Hizuru. Minamida was betrayed by the man she loved, and the heartbreak is being manipulated into a powerful hatred. Inside Minamida is a weapon that can aid Hizuru. Unbeknownst to to Minamida, her role in life was to watch over Hizuru and to be there when she needed her. The demons use the hatred they've created in Minamida so that she uses the weapon against Hizuru. But Hizuru's love for Minamida allows her to take the weapon inside herself, and save Minamida.
Now feeling like she has a purpose, Hizuru decides to take on the demons, but not before she takes a day off with Takuya and Ichigo. They spend the day on the town, allowing themselves one last peaceful day before the final confrontation.
And then the demon invasion begins. They destroy an entire city in the process, and begin rounding up all the humans to destroy them. Enraged by the deaths of so many, Hizuru goes berserk, tapping into dark power to try to destroy the demons. It doesn't work, however, and almost kills her. Hizuru is brought back to her senses, and the conclusion to her battle is bittersweet.
Baby Birth is a short series, only two volumes long. Tomita does his best to give us a reason to care about Hizuru and her friends, so that her sacrifice means something at the end. But the short series also means there is little time to expand the relationships and let us see a bit more about what drives the characters. Mikimoto's art is exceptional, with fast, thin lines and an explosion of screetones, making every page feel alive. There's even a bit of humor, especially in the antagonistic relationship between Takuya and Hizuru.
Tokyopop does it's usual merely adequate job of art reproduction. With an art style that relies so heavily on so much screentone, better than average art reproduction is what's needed. There is too much moiring in the screentone, and some pages are printed either too dark or too light. The English adaptation by Jim Krueer is nicely done. The story makes sense, and the dialogue flows naturally.
A four page interview with Sukehiro Tomita and Haruhiko Mikimoto is included as an extra in the back. The front cover is a picture of a smiling Hizuru in her school uniform against a blue and white image of the sky. The back cover includes a small image of a fetal Hizuru, as if she's still in the womb.
The story, while not very original, is well told and very well illustrated. At only two volumes, it's worth checking out just for Mikimoto's uniquely beautiful artwork.
Mania Grade: B-
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
Orientation: Right to Left