Jinki: Extend Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Tuesday, July 06, 2004
Release Date: Thursday, July 01, 2004

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Tunasima Sirou
Translated by:Kay Bertrand
Adapted by:

What They Say
A mysterious explosion rocks La Gran Sabana, Venezuela. This marks the beginning of the "lost life phenomenom," a series of strange occurrences ranging from random murders to sudden disappearances of entire populations of villages.

Three years later, heroine Akao Hiiragi suddenly finds herself piloting a jinki, a form of gigantic battle robot. But even as this young girl seeks to use the power of the jinki for good, a group of mysterious masked villains is after her, determined to take her captive...

The Review
To be released at the end of July is ADV's first attempt at the giant robot genre with Tunasima Sirou's Jinki: Extend. Mysterious organizations, engineered humans, giant robots, and cute Japanese bishojo cast with a dash of soccer... Houston, we think we have a problem... there is no plot! Que the robots and bishojo!!

Typical of ADV titles this version of Jinki retains the original front and back cover art, color pages and volume headers. So basically if you happen to own the MagGarden version it should look almost exactly the same. The front cover features main character Akao in front of her Jinki, the Moribito 2. The image if full of bright colors and has a slight etchi feel as Akao's clothing appears to be shearing off for some reason. The opposite cover does not feature a blurb, instead it has an image with the five potential jinki pilots that have been introduced so far. Because the logo was originally in English there was no need to change it (but that has not stopped other studios). I have to say its a little big, but it works.

Inside, the printing on my review copy is very dark. Coupled with the fact that Tunasima-sensei tends to use heavy inking techniques and I was a little disappointed with the presentation. Tone tends to fade to black a lot and a bit of detailing is lost as well. I also had some issues with the alingment. This was originally in a B6 which is a few milimeters shorter than this GN, so I was surprised to see images cut off on some pages and then the image being cropped on others. These issues may be fixed in the final printing but right now it looks shoddy at best.

Tunasima's art is not too shabby. He tends to use heavy inking techniques which sadly did not look great in my copy due to printing. His lines are thick and tight, which give his character designs a slight squared-off feel to them. Costume designs are fun but with the setting being Tokyo and Brazil 1991 they do not seem very appropriate.

Mechanical designs are pretty crappy. So far the Jinki presented have been really bulky and do not seem to be built for combat. In some ways their large builds remind me of construction labors from Mobile Police PatLabor. With such clunky designs, there is no wonder that the action scenes are often mediocre, at best. Most of those scenes are pretty brief with short meelee battles. The rest are cut scenes in the cockpits - where characters posture or tend to panic under fire - leaving Tunasima to work on his character designs instead of physics and battle tactics.

Presented in right-to-left format Jinki: Extend has its SFX translated with subs. Unfortunately with Tunasima's hyper layouts ADV's subbing technique tends to compromise art on occasion. I am not sure why they did not use smaller subs, as they have in other titles. Inconsistency in this aspect seems to be a problem with almost every studio out there.

This is my first experience with Jinki so I cannot compare it to its raw version, but I can say the translation sounds fine. As this is a review galey copy there are a few typos here and there. There wasn't anything that should cause problems with the plot or overall reading experience. Hopefully, those issues will be taken care of by the first printing. ADV has some good notes at the end of the GN. The notes go through Japanese translations, culture topics and terms that are specific to this title.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In 1989 in the forrested mountains of Venezuela a huge nuclear explosion occurred. The explosion, reportedly caused by a gravitational collapse, was the beginning of a series of events that would effect people the world over. Those few who survived the initial event say they witnessed what is now called the Lost Life Phenomenon (LLP). Furthermore, at the center of this eruption was a mechanized giant - now called a Jinki. Since that first event, the LLP has spread across the South American continent. Whole towns are wiped out in an instant by these Jinki, but as of yet there has been little information about the robots and who may be operating them.
Now, in 1991, word of the growing threat of the LLP has reached Japan. A Venezualan organization appears to be found to possibly be behind the LLP but their motivations have not been released to the public. That will not last long, as the threat will soon become real and the Japanese people will experience the LLP first hand.

Hiragi Akao lost her memories three years ago, around the time of the first Lost Life Phonomemum. Since then, she has lived in Tokyo with friends taking care of her. Difficulty understanding her past has been an issue for quite a while, so much so that it tends to effect her social life as well as her decision making. Unfortunately, at the start of this title, Akao finds herself in a situation where she must make some life changing choices. She is being hunted down by opposing forces wanting her for abilities that she does not remember having. Now she must either run from the trouble she has accidentally gotten into or the role others have made for her.

For some reason Akao happens to be a cognate - a person who can manipulate the Jinki - and even though she currently possess no threat there are those out there that want her under wraps. As you can imagine, all of this is too much to take all at once. Who knows when all of this madness will end or what will happen to her. So with the situation looking bleak, Akao feels she has no choice but to get involved. She has relied on others for the past few years and to give the same unconditionally would be beneficial on personal level. However, how would she go about doing so? How could she stop those that are going after her? What will she do about their technological power? And what about her being a cognate? All of this should be too much for someone with military briefing and experience, to the average civilian it should be impossible. Akao's cognate abilities make it possible, though it will not help her allies recognize her nor will it help her understand that the Jinki are the actual causes of the LLP.

So what is behind all of this chaos? Well, according to a South American organization called ANGEL, a group called Kyomu has been using androids and powered humans to... destroy cities for some reason. According to ANGEL, Kyomu's eight leaders, the Hachi Shoujin, have come to Tokyo for... some reason. Therefore, ANGEL transported a Jinki to Japan to try to make up for the lack of military strength Japan has against such a threat. Now that the war between ANGEL and the Kyomu has started again in Japan, ANGEL members from Brazil and other parts of the world are to come to Japan to look for cognates in the hope to stop the Hachi Shoujin from doing... whatever they want to do. Well actually, stop them from finding the cognates themselves as cognates tend to have Japanese blood.

Huh? Well let's just say Akao and her new friends (if she can consider them friends) will be in for a battle of the magnitude that Japan has never seen before. Hopefully the Jinki and their cognates can save the country, maybe the Earth, from whatever the Kyomu have plotted.

Ah, what would manga be like without giant robots? What would manga be like without Jinki: Extend? Possibly more affordable.
To be honest, Jinki does not bring anything new to a genre that is already crowded. On the surface, having the setting take place in 1991, with events in Japan and South America might sound good especially with a young prodominantly female cast. Unfortunately, very little of these factors are taken advantage of. It's the early 90's and costumes are defintitely not from that decade. Heck, if characters themselves did not say that their technology was not advanced to the Kyomu's level one would think that this title were set in current times as nothing seems to be out of date. There were a few pages dedicated to a character that was stationed in Brazil, but the focus here was seeing her play soccer because everyone does that down there. And while there were some potentially dramatic moments, Tunashima would often end up cutting out early to return to his main character. I can only assume this was done for dramatic effect, unfortunately for a main character Akao tends to be poor even in her sterotypical role. Like many characters that have been tossed into a position to save the world, Akao is intitially reluctant (that's expected). Eventually, she changes her stripes upon relating to a new cohort in this field. She has no clue about the scope of the situation she has gotten into. She has no skill or training in regards to operating a giant robot. She doesn't really fully understand what she is fighting against (and neither are the readers). Yet we must go along with her for this ride. Unlike other characters, Akao doesn't seem to have any unique talents except the fact she has partial amnesia, she is cute and her clothes tend to rip off easily. Luck can take you so far, and Tunasima appears to understand that so Akao struggles once she gets conscious of her position. Yet, instead of working on her insecurities, he introduces a new character that initially appears as a rival/enemy to set up a plot twist in the future. The packaging and foreshadowing earlier, already dismissed possiblity and only made a sloppy story even more confusing.

There is some hope, though. Some of the supporting cast appear to have some sort of personality already. They have not been given much page time as of yet, but in the few scenes that they have been in Kosaka Minami and Ogawa Ryohei have been carrying scenes with humor and morality. While the enemy has not been fleshed out yet, the few sociopaths that have been introduced are just wicked. Some my consider them a little extreme (one of them uses rape as a battle tactic) but within the mish-mash that is Jinki these personalities actually spiced up a stagnant story. With some direction these two sides could provide some entertainment or they could quickly continue towards mediocrity.

Below average.

Mania Grade: D+
Art Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: B-
Text/Translatin Rating: B-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: ADV Manga
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 180
ISBN: 1-4139-0052-6
Size: Tall B6
Orientation: Right to Left