Tengai Retrogical Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Mike Dungan
Review Date: Wednesday, October 06, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Rin Asano
Translated by:Kay Bertrand
Adapted by:

What They Say
A place like no other. The neighborhood known as Tengai-ya exists behind a fog of strange and spooky rumors, but when his flaky father agrees to become its property manager, high schooler Ryohei will uncover more than a few secrets! After breathing new life into it's coldest, dustiest corners, this teenager will shed a little light upon its dark cloak of mysteries and the strange new friends he meets beyond the gates of Tengai-ya.

The Review
The Review: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As this is an uncorrected galley proof, I can only comment on the story and the artstyle, not the art reproduction or presentation. This story appears to take place in the 1920s or 1930s. Ryohei is a teenager whose father comes home drunk one night and announces they're moving. He's been offered a job as caretaker of a set of rowhouses called Tengai-ya. Unfortunately, it has a reputation as a very creepy place. Ryohei goes to investigate this place and hopefully talk the current caretaker out of employing his father. He meets a young man named Kotaro who offers to help him sneak in the back way, by climbing over the wall and sneaking over the hill that is part of the property. They're seperated and Ryohei falls into a hole. Inside the hole is a boulder, and when he touches it, there is a tremendous flash of light. An incredibly cute and bubbly girl pops out of the light and declares Ryohei is her subordinate. She's here to save the earth, and Ryohei's going to help her. It turns out only certain people can live in Tengai-ya, and they're there to assist the girl, named Anju. In addition to Kotaro, there is a professor named Mr. Shimada, a beautiful woman named Ms. Hogyoku, and a little male fearie with a bad attitude called Shuten. It turns out Earth is merely a set of data, and it's been damaged. Anju is there to retrieve memories of specific people and objects, and use that data to repair Earth. Ryohei doesn't want anything to do with it, but he finds that he can't refuse, both because of a seal on his neck, and because of Tsubaki, the pretty young daughter of the local tavern-owner, with whom he's become friendly. In this volume, after setting up the premise of the story, we get a chapter about Ryohei and Anju getting the memories of a pocket watch that has a mind of it's own.

Tengai Retrogical is a very enjoyable story that is equal parts action, horror, fantasy, science fiction, historical drama, and comedy. The story has a somewhat complex setup, but it's explained in a smooth flow of information that doesn't overwhelm the reader. There's a lot of visual humor, with an animated button and watch that are hilarious. The character designs are clear and sharp, with good distinctiveness between characters. There's an air of confidence in both the art and the storytelling. I like the characters. Ryohei is a smart young man with a lot on his shoulders. Anju is cute, but also very kind. She genuinely worries about Ryohei and tries to help him the best of her abilities. Kotaro is a bit goofy, but in a friendly manner that is never annoying. Hogyoku is the perfect "yamato nadeshiko", the epitome of Japanese beauty and grace, but she's also very serious about her task and quite perceptive. The friendship that is slowly building between Ryohei and Tsubaki adds a nice touch of romance. Tengai Retrogical is refreshingly unique, an historical sci-fi story, and I highly recommend it.

Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: N/A
Text/Translatin Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: ADV Manga
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 184
ISBN: 1-4139-0208-1
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left