Madara Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Monday, October 25, 2004
Release Date: Friday, October 01, 2004
Writer/Artist:Otsuka Eiji/Tajima Shou
Translated by:Michael Niyama
What They Say
A YOUNG BOY FROM A RURAL VILLAGE MUST TEST HIS COURAGE AND HARNESS HIS STRENGTH TO RID THE LAND OF EVIL.
MADARA SETS OUT ON THE JOURNEY THAT WILL DETERMINE HIS DESTINY...
Madara grew up in a peaceful village, using his mechanical limbs as a blacksmith's apprentice. But when the demons from the Emperor's army attack his village, he awakens the power to control his appendages as weapons. The village chief reveals that the young boy's destiny is to fight the invading demons and defeat the despotic Emperor. Now Madara must set out on a journey into an unknown world to face challenges beyond his imagination!
The newest studio in the manga business is already a major player in the comic industry. CMX, from DC Comics/Warner Bros Publishing appears to have listened to fans and manga pundits in regards to their presentation.
First off, Madara is presented in its original format, which in this case is left-to-right. They have a image of lead character Madara in a current character design, framed in the same way as CMX's sampler that was passed out at conventions this summer (the image is framed at an angle with the CMX logo above and green panels full of the kanji for this imprint: fantasy).
Inside CMX keeps the original color volume header and four pages of full color manga. The printing is pretty good; my copy has an over pressing in one dialogue bubble but the rest of the manga looks solid.
Tajima's art is really outdated. Actually, the characters look so old it is almost comical. Costumes are a mix of eighties punk and tribal. Hair designs are just huge! Comparing the cover art to the character designs would be misleading, so if character art is a concern for you open the book up before making a decision. Monster designs are not very creative either. To be honest as the manga progresses the designs got better overall, so characters like the Wind Princess and Kaos generally look better. Most importantly, CMX did not edit out the nudity in this volume. I hope that they will continue this with the rest of their titles. Background art is good but not very impressive for a fantasy title. There is little creativity in the world that Tashima has drawn. The lack of detailing only helps the art looks more stale and dull, fortunately the layout rather impressive. Tashima uses a variety of techniques: out of panel characters, panel placement (i.e. panel in panel, collage, two-page spread) and interesting perspective. At times, it does not flow very well, but generally the layout really helped keep up the pacing of the story and improved the average character and background art.
The translation for Madara sounds great. Even though there are no honorifics, the dialogue flows well and maintains the individual personalities of the characters. I did not notice any typos or grammatical errors either; which is a good sign for a new publisher. SFX are not so great. CMX seems to be inconsistent in regards to what they will translate and what they will not. What is worse is that they are not consistent with how they translate either - overlays or large subs. At least they overlaid all of the aside text, so it was not a total loss.
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
There is a time in everyone's life when they become an adult and have to go on their personal journeys. Today is the day that Madara must go on his journey to fulfill his destiny and most importantly be his own man. 15 years ago, in the year 3499, Madara washed up on the shore of a nearby river and from that moment on those who raised him waited for the day he would change the future. This is the story of Madara's journey; it is an epic his people will be sharing for generations to come. The legend of an orphan with a body built from prosthetics and artificial organs and became a hero.
Inexperienced and immature, Madara would have to grow up quickly if he is to realize his destiny. Followed by his lifelong friend Kirin, he sets off on what would become a series of tests. Actually, this is more like a fight for Madara's life as this quest will likely lead him to back to parts of his distant past... part of his original body. For as long as he can remember, Madara has lived with a body primarily supported by gadgets (prosthetics). His limbs and many of his organs are artificial. So much of his body is fake; the leaders of his tribe could only attest his survival to his great spiritual strength. With every battle, Madara will have come understand and develop his own strengths by using his mechanical body until he gets his own body back. As he progresses he slowly begins to realize how every experience he has had and everyone he meets have been a part of his development in what was to be his destiny. The stories he hears have all come true and he is the main character in each one. Moving from town to town everywhere he goes he finds himself in a place where people have waited patiently for his arrival, hoping for the legends they grew up with to be realized.
Madara's future is really for him to make, but there are forces out there that wish to see him fail. Those who are against him are fully aware of the strength that Madara could possess and they are afraid of that power. A powerful Madara might come to change the world, and those who currently look over humanity do not want to lose their position at the top.
Madara has the makings of being an epic manga title. The basic pieces are all in place - a young person living through adversity, his life destined for something bigger than his status, every step he takes is foretold by prophecy as he grows into the role of hero he was borne to be. Most importantly the cast is has the roles that are needed in a story like this - young hero, love interest, mentor, evil lord and rival. At times, I felt that Madara was simply following the script of a few other titles out there step by step. And if this series has a problem, besides the art, it is that it is too simple. While the stories are creative and some of the cast quite unique, there is nothing that is really drawing me in so far. The best bet so far is Madara's prosthetics and the power of his original body. Up to this point, Madara's body has been a source of great power. It fuels the force that is attempting to keep him from reaching his goals in life. Unfortunately, Otsuka has not gone into detail about how they benefit Madara once he gets them back. Actually, it is almost humorous how Madara can just put them back on without much trouble (I guess he is a surgeon or maybe Kirin is. I don't know.) I can see so much potential but the wholes are so obvious.
For one of their first titles CMX has gone with a safe action/fantasy that should appeal to a wide audience. Good action, a strong female lead who's interplay with the main character is one of the finer points of this title, and a good rival kept me entertained and curious about where Otsuka would take this relatively short series. While I did not feel many parts of the story were creative, there is plenty of time for this series to grow into something great. So for a first volume Madara had a good start.
Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: C+
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: CMX
Size: Tall B6
Orientation: Left to Right