Pilgrim Jäger Vol. #02 (Mania.com)

By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Sunday, July 03, 2005
Release Date: Sunday, May 01, 2005



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Ubukata Toh/Itoh Mami
Translated by:Julia Rose
Adapted by:

What They Say
She fans the fire...
She brandishes the spear Longinus...
But knows not what she possesses...


As the faces of the tarot are revealed one by one, the spiral of history draws tighter. What parts will Michelangelo, the Medici family and Francis Xavier possibly play in this dramatic story? And what of Adele and Karin? Will Adele multiple personalities be drawn out to cataclysmic effect?

The Review
Packaging:
Media Blasters did everything right with this presentation. First, they used the original logo and cover art. This cover features Karin Atlantic showing off her unique ability to summon objects from her hand. I like how the image and logo full of yellows and blues jump of the black background cover. The opposite cover simply has a close-up on the Fennel Stalk above a short volume description. All of this is done on a matted cover, just for added measure.

Inside the printing is superb. I believe this title comes from the original Japanese printer films, so the printing is very clean and with wonderful clarity in color pages as well as black and white. They include the original volume header, but unlike the first volume AW did not include color plates for this release. At the end of most of the chapters are page long notes sharing information on historical and religious topics covered in the manga. The notes also go into depth over the original concepts in this story. At the end of the GN, there is a credits list, a listing of characters and their actual real-life personal histories, a glossary of terms, art from each of the mangaka, an ato-gaki manga and ads for Kamunagara and rareFlix.

Great release, but I wonder if there were color pages in the original.

Artwork:
Itoh's art is fantastic. It reminds quite a bit of the art from TOKYOPOP's Priest, which also has a great sense of form. Character designs have sketchy lines that come together to give these characters a realistic look to them. There is a lot of detail and each character is done with their own unique characteristics. At time, characters might be out of scale, but I have felt that has been done purposely to enhance the sense of mystique around the lead characters. Costumes look very good and they are often nicely detailed to show social status in what was a class society. Facial expressions are not great, but that is to be expected because the art is too intricate.

Backgrounds are great and Itoh uses them to full effect in the action scenes. This places the reader in a perspective where they can feel right in the scene. The layout is also great. It move at a very comfortable pace that does not let the action take command or let the dialogue slow things down much.

SFX/Text:
Pilgrim Jäger is not an easy title to translate. Obviously, this manga was in Japanese, but there are Italian terms tossed in here and there to help put the setting in context. Then because of the religious aspect, there is plenty of Latin to translate as well. Media Blasters has done a very good job translating each and more importantly keeping a flow within the three languages. They have provided a glossary of terms at the end of the GN for additional help and they include notes in the gutters for concepts that are more pressing to the text. I did notice an inconsistency with Adele Nahashid's name (at one point it was spelled Nahasid); apart from that I did not notice spelling or grammar errors. MBP also uses a fun, though a little small, type font that works well with the era this is set in.

SFX are not translated. This is definitely surprising in this age, when fans have voiced their displeasure over the lack SFX translations from a few publishers in the past few years. This manga does not have a lot of SFX, but I really wish they could have been translated in some way.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
There are few things people cannot escape from. Time and destiny are two. We move through time. Our lives are fractions of fractions in the clock of existence, and when we pass away time continues to flow and grow until there is nothing to measure time left. Time moves strictly forward waiting for us to fill in the blanks as our destiny emerges for the future to see. Destiny, if you believe in it, is an offspring of time. It is created by time and life, where the two through their son history decide the future as directed by the trails and errors of the past. Destiny waits everyone, even those whose lives are short. Destiny cannot be changed, for changing that is changing time itself.

Destiny is unfolding for the characters in this story. Michelangelo, the great artisan, must prepare to face his fate. His life tied to the Medici's and whatever they demand, he must act in favor. Michelangelo has given in to his destiny. He understands that like his art there is only result. He can try to change his paintings, but in the end his struggles are in vain for the canvass had its destiny preordained when Michelangelo was commissioned to work on it. His blocks of marble have faces buried in them by the time he receives them. So when the message comes he drops everything, to either face his death or he survives the curse branded on his arm.

Basque Jesuit Francisco de Jaso y Azpilcueta (aka St. Francis Xavier) would get the blessing of the Church to spread the Jesuit Order. With his fellow Basque countryman Íñigo López de Loyola they would support the church with all their strength. That does not mean they do not have a part in all of this, as well. They have come to Italy for various reasons. They are also marked. So their destiny is set. Now what their destiny is we all know these two found the Jesuits and become two who will eventually convert more people to Catholicism than anyone since St Paul, but what is their role in this war between religion and humanism. Between witchcraft and the spiritual realm and science and logic. Whatever these men will have to face it will likely mean the end of an era - one that might push back human rights hundreds of years. That might have been destined despite all the advances that era brought.

Comments
Why fight something you cannot control, right. If it is destined then nothing can change the future. If it is destined all the wrong things were not ones fault, destiny made those decisions ahead of time. We just play our roles, as we should.

Was it destined for Adele and Karin to be in their position? Should they have suffered for so long? Is it foolish to wish a new life for them?

There has always been a time when the desperate exert their will despite the odds. They will attempt to change the future with what they do in the present and what they have done in the past. They see the future as something malleable. It can be molded by ones actions. The change does not come quickly and sometimes change does not come easily, but acting is much better than reacting to some. That is the difference between those who are being hunted and those who are seeing everything unfold before them and even those who are doing the hunting. It is their beliefs about the will of the individual and all of these characters have to work around a religion that restricts that.

Ever had a manga take your brain and kick it around for a while. Ever feel as if you really are into a title, but all the pieces take a while to come together. Pilgrim Jager is starting to do that to me. It is forcing me to turn back to pages I just read to figure out the relationships the characters had before they turned on each other. I have to go to the character bios to make sense of the age differences and the significance of the dates that are presented at the start of each chapter. I have to really think about the interactions between patrons and their artist "children". And then I have to separate these characters into groups and then rethink what their roles will be in this big play they have been put in - some by destiny and others because of their lack of vision outside the religious box they live in.

This challenge is what brings me back to Pilgrim Jager. I cannot help but go back to Michelangelo to see what his role will be in this bloodbath. I need to figure out what St. Francis Xavier will do to prevent his death while converting the masses. I need to see Ubukata-sensei's twisted mix of horror, religious militarism and social complacence because it almost makes sense considering how religion was logic, science and law. I just need more of this series. Great stuff all around really. Easily one of the better fantasy titles in English available right now.



Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: AW Productions
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 198
ISBN: 1-58655-579-0
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left