Figure 17 Vol. #02 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Release Date: Saturday, May 01, 2004
Art: Guy Nakahira
Translated by:Brendan Frayne
What They Say
Tsubasa lived a normal (though lonely) life until she discovered the alien exoskeleton Figure 17. In this volume, Tsubasa and three friends team up and battle the alien Magure... but when Hikaru gets injured in battle, Tsubasa has doubts about just how long she can go on fighting.
The rift between Tsubasa and Hikaru widens as Tsubasa loses the boy she cared for, and accuses Hikaru of not understanding because she isn't human! Follow Tsubasa on her journey of self-discovery and adventure!
The Review: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Tsubasa is a very shy 10 year old girl living with her widower father in rural Hokkaido on a farm as he learns his new profession of baking. Hikaru is Tsubasa's outgoing, energetic twin sister. In reality, though, Hikaru is actually an alien organism, a living liquid metal that can combine with Tsubasa to form a sort of exoskeleton, and together, they fight alien mosters, called Magures, which were accidentally released on Earth. DD, an alien cop who was transporting the magures when his ship crashlanded behind Tsubasa's farm, has called for backup. That backup isn't exactly what he was hoping for when it turns out to be Oldina, a beautiful, though rather arrogant officer with whom DD has an apparently long and contentious relationship.
For some reason, Tsubasa and Hikaru's figure is stronger than either DD or Oldina have seen, and with each Magure being more powerful than the last, they are called on again and again to fight. Things nearly fall apart when tragedy strikes a classmate that Tsubasa was close to. It sends her into a terrible depression, and causes a rift between her and Hikaru that makes it impossible to fight. The break in the action is a setback to DD and Oldina, and they race to find the mother magure before it has time to reproduce exponentially and make mankind extinct. On top of Tsubasa's suffering, Hikaru is struggling with the knowledge that when the last magure is killed, she'll be forced to leave Tsubasa and go home.
As with the first volume, the real action here isn't watching the figure fight the aliens, it's the personal story of Tsubasa and Hikaru. They struggle with some terrible tragedies and hurt each other without intending to. Another interesting element is watching Oldina, who is not happy about having to clean up the mess DD made on this little backwater planet, slowing becoming accustomed to the relaxed country life and loosening up a bit. She even shows some real empathy, giving Hikaru the courage to mend the broken bond between her and Tsubasa.
Guy Nakahira's art is straightforward and competent. He uses some very nice lighting and shading in night scenes, and the action flows well. Tsubasa, Hikaru, and all their classmates are attractively drawn, with distinctive personalities that come through very well. His sense of pacing sometimes reduces the actual combat with the magures down to a single panel, focusing more on Tsubasa's internal struggles. There are a couple of pages of extras in the back, one from the anime staff, and another from Nakahira apologizing to the characters in the anime who didn't make it into the manga.
The art reproduction appears to be quite good, with no noticeable moiring of screen tones. The dialogue has a good feel to it, flowing well without any noticeable pop culture references. ADV translates all the sound effects and incorporates their translations into the art, right next to the Japanese sfx. As with the first volume, it can occassionally overwhelm the art, though, and I think I'd like to see them make it just a bit smaller. The cover is an image of the two girls in winter clothes, holding hands and sharing a scarf, set against a green background.
The conclusion to Figure 17 is bittersweet. Tsubasa's struggle to believe in herself is what the real conflict in this story is about. Guy Nakahira does a good job of making us care about the twins and what happens to them. This is a science-fiction story that should please anyone who wants something deeper than just humans fighting aliens.
Mania Grade: A-
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 3 & Up
Released By: ADV Manga
Orientation: Right to Left