R2 Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Sunday, August 01, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, June 01, 2004



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Hakoda Maki
Translated by:Amy Forsyth
Adapted by:

What They Say
Once people turned to the sapphire heavens to fulfill their dreams. But their thirst for power turned the dreams to nightmares, and the people were driven to the brink of destruction... and then all was silent.

The Review
Packaging:
Packages in a tall B6, ADV keeps the original logo, cover art, color volume header, and ato-gaki. They also have an eight page long trailer comic as well. The printing quality for ADV titles is getting batter, which is vital for this ink heavy title. The cover for volume 1 features main character Kenta, in full skater gear, on a red gear patterned background. The backcover does not have a blurb, but it keeps the original art completely intact - which happens to be an SD piece with Kenta delivering a pizza while a young version of Kano hangs on tightly to his shirt. Cute.

Artwork:
I don't know why, but when I see Hakoda-sensei's character designs I am reminded of the designs from Square-Enix's video game Kingdom Hearts. These characters have huge heads and very narrow and short torsos. In general they all look a little on the short side, so even characters that look long appear strangely short in their environments. These characters also do not have too much detail in their expressions, given those characters an aloof feel. I found myself liking the technique, especially with some of the supporting cast, as roles have not yet been defined for most characters. Backgrounds look nice. I like the architecture and how well it works with the mood of this title. On the other hand, as there is a sci-fi element to the series I was not impressed by some of the tech/mechanical designs, as they looked clunky lacking much creativity. The layout for R2 is pretty confusing. With the story being hard to follow at times, I wished the art could keep me focused but it didn't. Hakoda may have nice designs, but there really is not much else to look at.

Text:/SFX:
ADV's translation looks and sounds pretty good. I did not notice major spelling or grammatical errors. SFX are not used often by Hakoda-sensei in this title, luckily ADV translates them all with subs next to the original. While other ADV titles suffer from large subs and awkward retouch work, R2 looks really good.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In the remote Palpatin city of Lutzheim time seems to have stopped. Much of the town has retained the architecture and traditions of the old days. There are merchants and travelers that come through with new ideas, but they usually have little effect on the town or its people. It is as if what influences the rest of the world is non-existent there.

Time also appears to have stopped for a few characters in R2. In Kano's eyes, Kenta has been stuck in his fantasyland since long before she arrived in town. She feels that young Kenta cannot escape his place of fun and amusement, a place that others wish for, to avoid reality. Yet, Kenta is actually searching all alone looking for a way out. He wants to move on and accept reality, but for some reason he cannot find his way out his this world.

Looking through Kenta's perspective, time is helping him pay of his debts - time is money. As a pizza delivery boy Kenta is struggling to make things meet, paying off debts with tips and deliveries. Time has been tough on Kenta, but he actually enjoys his life right now so he has no regrets.

Recently, he's been having problems. He cannot put a finger on it, but it feels as if something from his past is calling him. After experiencing it at a slow frequency, this feeling is speeding up until it finally awakens something inside of him. With the pain came memories of fantastic dreams of his past. Unfortunately, this flood from a past unknown brought two lives from two different times together - Kenta of the present and Kano now from the past (but not Kenta's past, because he knows an older Kano) - and it could bring misfortune and disaster. Kenta thought living in debt was tough, now his reality has been tossed out the window and somehow he must rise to the occasion (kinda like pizza crust). By the way, how or why is he supposed to do that?

Comments
When reviewing titles I usually read each GN twice before I start typing. Quite often I may re-read the title as I go through the contents.

When I started working on the review for this title, I had to read R2 four times (actually six times total). What I found interesting about R2 is that there are at least a few ways to look at this story. After a bit of thought, I decided to go with the concept of time as it is a theme that visually comes up in this series when the two main characters meet. At the same time, I could have gone with a concept of reality. Kenta and Kano realities tend to cross; yet the results of those meetings are often difficult to describe. At this point there is too much happening and too little getting explained. Right now with so much to work with whom knows where this title could be going. With some direction it could be a wonderful journey; without it could be more of the confusion that I experienced in this volume.

Below average



Mania Grade: C-
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: All
Released By: ADV Manga
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 180
ISBN: 1-4139-0056-9
Size: Tall B6
Orientation: Right to Left