Gamerz Heaven Vol. #02 (Mania.com)

By:Mike Dungan
Review Date: Monday, May 30, 2005
Release Date: Tuesday, February 22, 2005



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Maki Murakami
Translated by:Josh Cole
Adapted by:

What They Say
Virtual reality meets videogame mayhem1 From the author of the hit manga Gravitation comes a mind-blowing trip into the world of video games - literally! The game is one, but with Nata in the clutches of the Final Boss and Area Master Rush, Kaito will have to execute some swift moves to rescue the navigator. He's going to need some help, but are Kawashima, Rio and Ren willing to lose their lives in a gamer's dream world? Another Area Boss looks familiar, but the Lost Soul - the judge, jury and executioner - may not be satisfied with this Boss's services. This is one game that might not get saved!

The Review
Packaging:
The cover features the adorable Kyoko Kawashima striking a confident pose in her school uniform against an orange background. The logo is placed across her midsection with a black bar at the top of the cover with the volume number and the author's name inside it. While Kawashima is as adorable as can be, something about the overall design falls flat. It just doesn't grab one's attention. The back cover is black with a small image of Nata watching a butterfly, and the text above it. There are no color pages, even though the opening page looks like it probably should have been.

Artwork:
Maki Murakami, best known for Gravitation, has a rather loose style. Her linework isn't especially strong, but she has a great sense of both comic and dramatic timing that suits the story well. Some of her visual gags are laugh out loud funny, but she's more than willing to shock the reader with stunning visual imagery. Her character designs are very attractive, both the women and the men. There is plenty of fanservice with new sexy battle gear for the girls. The art reproduction is average for ADV, not particularly good or bad. Darker shades and screentones tend to bleed together, losing some of the art's impact, but otherwise it seems fine.

Text/SFX:
The sound effects are translated on the page, using a variety of fonts and sizes that do quite a good job of complementing the art. The translation reads well. I noted no awkward or stilted passages. There are a few references here and there that lost me, but a page of translators notes are included in the back which helped this poor non-gamer figure out what they were talking about.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Kaito and his friends, the eager to please Kyoko Kawashima, game-crazy beauty Rio and tall handsome computer expert Ren, are now stuck inside the game Gamerz Heaven. They are protecting Nata, a cute young boy that Kaito has grown very attached to. Nata has the ability to open a gate between the game world and the real world. As such, he is a very sought after commodity, and everyone is out to get him. Kaito and crew must protect him and win the game, or the game becomes real and our world ends. Unfortunately, the volume opens with our gang facing the final boss already. She's a sexy, nearly naked woman with overwhelming powers, and she wants Nata. Nata's knowledge of gaming scenarios helps him figure a way out of the battle, and they move on to the next stage.

A trip through town leads them to a shop with all sorts of gaming gear, including appropriate clothes. Kaito's overzealous nature gets the better of him as he charges around in a battle bikini, much to everyone else's embarrassment. To pay for the clothes, they undertake a messenger job to get a package to the local area boss, who happens to be a girl from Kaito's class who hates him. She has three henchmen who work for her, and it leads to one of the more hilarious battle sequences I've seen since Geobreeders. The hilarity comes to a screeching halt when justice is meted out by the Lost Soul, a young boy who judge, jury and executioner in this town.

The horrifying consequences of Kaito's actions leave him shaken, but Kawashima is there to cheer him up. Their hard work is rewarded with new battle clothes for everyone. But things still weigh heavily on the group, with more dangerous opponents ahead of them.

Comments
Maki Murakami's Gamerz Heaven continues to appeal to me. The interesting mix of main characters, as well as her willingness to pull the rug out from under the reader with shocking suddenness, makes this a real page-turner. The events in the middle of this book are a good example. It's all fun and games until someone loses their head, literally. Kaito goes from joy at being able to play in this world, to fury and later to confusion and fear. The emotional roller coaster he rides feels real, which makes following his adventures worthwhile. I recommend it.



Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B-
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: ADV Manga
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 184
ISBN: 1-4139-00199-9
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left