Peacemaker Kurogane Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Megan Lavey
Review Date: Wednesday, October 13, 2004
Release Date: Friday, October 01, 2004



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Nanae Chrono
Translated by:Amy Forsyth
Adapted by:

What They Say
Besieged by the bloody revolution sweeping late feudal Japan, the imperial city of Kyoto must turn to an elite cadre of samurai swordsmen for protection - the Shinsengumi. Tetsunosuke Ichimura - page to Vice Commander Hijikata - serves as the youngest and most recent addition to the sword-wielding posse. When a stranger crosses paths with the sons of someone called the "Peacemaker," Tetsunosuke and the Shinsengumi become involved in the intrigue. This outsider - with an unorthodox weapon - can only mean trouble for the good citizens of Kyoto. Meanwhile, dubious circumstances surround the death of an old man, and Tetsunosuke may know someone who knows something about it. Swords will be drawn as samurai warriors stare down their blades in intense dueling action, as the Shinsengumi uphold justice in Peacemaker Kurogane.

The Review
Packaging:
This this is an uncorrected galley proof, we have a black and white reproduction of the final cover art featuring Tetsunosuke next to a sword that's stuck into the ground. The pose is very similiar to the one used on volume 1 of the Peacemaker DVD release, and those who get the anime (or the box which has volume 1 of both the anime and manga) will see the similarities.

Artwork:
Since this is the second Peacemaker series, Chrono elects to draw Tetsu a little bit older, and it's his growth that will be the most apparent to people familiar with both series. There's a very rough feel to the characters and a lot of distortion to a series that is suppose to be grounded in history. It reminds me a lot of the art Nobuhiro Watsuki uses in his second manga series Gun Blaze West, and does have a very western feel overall. Most of the art is nothing to write home about, but I do like the very close facial expressions. The layout is clean and easy to follow, including the action sequences.

Text:
Since this is a galley proof, I noticed several spelling and grammatical errors that would normally not be present in a final release. Because of this, I decided to bypass the grade in this area. However, the overall story appears to be solid. There is an excessive amount of kanji left on the panels, but it is something that I have come to expect from ADV by this point.

Content: (May contain spoilers)
Once again, ADV brings over a manga series out of order - publishing Peacemaker Kurogane before its predecessor, Shinsengumi Imon Peacemaker. This release is tied to the beginning of the DVD release as well.

But, unlike Kagerou-Nostagia, where knowledge of the first series is essential to figure out what's going on in the second, it's a lot easier to slip into Peacemaker Kurogane. A summary on the inside of the volume give a rough outline of the events that happened in Shinsengumi Imon Peacemaker, which culminated with the Shinsengumi facing off against the Isshin Shishi at the Ikeda Inn. Still, if you are watching the anime release and don't wish to be spoiled about events that take place down the line, you might want to come back to this review later.

This series picks up three months after that incident with Tetsunosuke still growing into his role as a page and also having to deal with his brother Tatsunosuke, who is upset with him regarding the outcome of the Ikeda incident. The battle involved a confrontation with the man who killed their parents, but he was not found in the aftermath of the Ikeda battle.

Tetsu tries to deal with this, but is caught up in a confrontation between a strange man who wields a sword and carries a gun. Tatsu comes to his rescue, but they're both puzzled by the strange man. The incident appears out of place, but does foreshadow events that take place at the end of the volume.

Then, Tetsu gets a chance to meet Saito Hajime, captain of the 3rd unit of the Shinsengumi. Peacemaker Kurogane is one of two series released this month to feature Saito, the second being Rurouni Kenshin. The Kenshin version is the one that I'm more familiar with, so it's strange to see him portrayed in a different light. The Saito here is extremely quiet and comes off as being a bit childish. Peacemaker does throw in a nod to the Kenshin/Saito conflict though, acknowledging that none of the anti-Shogunate (or Isshin Shishi) can beat Saito one-on-one. But, he still has his love of soba.

The interaction between Saito and Tetsu here serves as a means to let Tetsu know that he still has strong feelings for his friend (I'm taking a wild guess and figuring it's Suzu Kitamura, the page to Toshimaru Yoshida). This haunts Tetsu as he keeps having nightmares of being killed.

Meanwhile, the mysterious swordsman, now known as Ryoma, comes back into play - letting it be known that he wants to recruit Tetsu and Tatsu out of the Shinsengumi. But the captain of the 1st unit, Okita, doesn't want to let his friends go. Also, a character from Tetsu's past starts to reemerge.

Comments
This is a pretty decent historical series. Unfortunately, the pig that Chris refers to in the anime review only pops up a couple of times at the beginning of the first chapter. There humor and some tragic romance sprinkled through the action, and it's a nice mix. It's a fun story, but knowledge of the first series is pretty crucial to knowing what happens here. Even Chrono, the author, acknowledges in her notes at the end that this volume feels like more of a continuation than the start of a new series. Still, I'm interested to see how the events set up in volume one play out over the rest of this 3-volume series. And, I hope that ADV will bring over the original Peacemaker series soon.



Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: N/A
Text/Translatin Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: ADV Manga
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 192
ISBN: 1-4139-0161-1
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left