MAR (aka: Marchen Awakens Romance) Vol. #01 (

By:Jarred Pine
Review Date: Thursday, June 09, 2005
Release Date: Sunday, May 15, 2005

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Nobuyuki Anzai
Translated by:Kaori Inoue
Adapted by:

What They Say
A junior high loser enters the vivid world of his dreams where, at last, he is a hero!

Ginta Toramizu is a 14-year-old kid in junior high school who doesn't have a lot going for him: he's near-sighted, doesn't do well in school, he's not good at sports, and to top it off-he's short! But Ginta is a dreamer and has had the same dream 102 times: it's always in the same fantasy world where he is a hero blessed with all the special abilities he lacks in real life.

Then one day a supernatural figure appears at his school and summons him-to the world of his dreams! In this strange universe filled with magic and wonder, he is strong, tough, agile-and he can see without his glasses! Thus, Ginta begins a quest in search for the magical items known as Arms, one of which may have the power to send him home. Joining him on this epic journey are his companion Jack and the valuable living, talking, mustachioed iron-ball weapon known as "Babbo", which everybody wants but, it seems, only Ginta can possess!

The Review
The cover features the same character illustrations as the Japanese release, with Dorothy, Ginta, and Babbo. The background is a darker color than the original, and instead of white space it is filled in with a silver color that highlights the silver frame. It is a nice presentation and definitely catches the eye.

Inside there is a message from Anzai, volume and chapter headers, and a 2 page preview of the next volume at the back of the book. There were a few spots of fading, but otherwise the print job is very nice and clear.

Anzai's character designs are definitely spunky and youthful, complete with big wide eyes, spiked hair, and big grins. The creatures in the fantasy world are quite creative and I thought the werewolves looked great. I also love the simple design of Babbo, a circle with a face and mustache, but it looks fantastic during the action scenes.

The action artwork is pretty dynamic and exciting, even though sometimes it was just a little bit hard to follow. The backgrounds are nice but I wish there were a lot more so I could get a feel of this fantasy world. Overall, the line work is really clean, nice tone work, and I love the creativity.

SFX are translated and retouched. The retouch job looks really good, as the new text is not overly obtrusive and is very clean. The school grades use the Japanese system, which I always give a big thumbs up to. The translation reads quite smoothly and I thought the dialogue adaptation was very nice, especially with Babbo. His proper personality and sense of humor come across perfectly for a talking steel ball. Nice job all around.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
The premise of Anzai's latest manga is not the most original, much like his previous work, but his creative style does infuse this otherwise bland concept with some fun and laughter. Ginta Toramizu is a middle school nerd, and son of a fantasy novelist, who daydreams about a fantasy land called Marchen. In fact, he's had 102 dreams about this world. His life is boring, he's not athletic, he's picked on, and he really wants to live in this fantasy world that lives in his head. Soon after his 103rd dream, Ginta is transported from the human world into this land called Marchen, where all his weaknesses, like poor sight and lack of strength, are no longer a problem. What Ginta does not know is that he was brought to this land on purpose by a mysterious man with a Dimensional Arm.

The fantasy world is pretty basic with weird fruit and animals, talking rocks, and of course, magical items. The magical items in this world are called Arms, accessories like rings or bracelets which have mystical powers engraved in them. An Arm can turn into a giant robot guardian, a steel shovel, or a mystical animal ready to attack. Bandits, witches, sorcerers, and just about everyone in this world has at least one Arm on their person, except Ginta. However that all changes after he agrees to help a witch named Dorothy track down a rare Arm named Babbo, a talking cup-n-ball looking Arm who speaks very properly and whose utmost concern is being a gentlemen.

I am already a huge Babbo fan. The story was for the most part a little slow and average until Babbo showed up. His quick wit and wry delivery, all coming out of a steel ball with a face and thick mustache, are an absolute riot at times. Anzai does some really clever sequences with Ginta and Babbo that just had me in stitches. After Ginta finds Babbo, he is warned by Dorothy that because Babbo is so rare, he should expect every Arms hunter in the world to be after him. Ginta pretty much shrugs this off because he is just too excited to be in this fantasy world that he has dreamed of his whole life.

After teaming up with each other and ironing out all their differences, Ginta and Babbo set out on their new adventure. The first place they stop at is a garden filled with delicious vegetables grown buy a boy named Jack. Jack takes everything a bit too seriously, but he is a boy who is learning the hard way on how to become a man. He lives with only his mother and it is up to him to protect the garden, which is ravaged yearly by the vegetarian werewolves (yes, vegetarian!) Garu and Ruga. There is a great little battle here and I think is a taste of what is to come, strange monsters and stranger Arms fighting it out and the boys learning how to protect the things the love.

After the fight, Ginta sees how much Jack's mom cares for him and decides that he also wants to return home to his mother. Jack's mom is touched and sends Jack out with Ginta to help him on his quest. And so begins the journey of Ginta, Babbo, and now Jack.

MAR is the latest manga from Flame of Recca creator Nobuyuki Anzai, who brings his creative characters and silly humor to this fantasy story which doesn't have the same punk-ish edge of Recca, but is still enjoyable and put a childish grin on my face. The boy/girl transported to a fantasy world plotline has been done a million times over, and so right off the bat Anzai had to come up with something fresh to enjoy this stale premise. Stage left enter Babbo, a talking cup-n-ball with a dry wit and sneering sense of humor. You'll just have to read it to understand.

The beginning of the volume was a bit of an eye-roller due to its completely unoriginal setup and I wasn't expecting much from the start. However, by the end of the volume I was completely won over and found myself enjoying this story possibly a bit more than I should have. I like to think this is mostly due to Babbo, whose dialogue I read the entire time with the voice of an older Stewie from Family Guy, who he had me in stitches.

I don't think MAR is going to really do anything new or unique with the genre, but I do think it will entertain by infusing the fantasy clich�s with Anzai's silly sense of humor and creativity. I am interested to see where this story will go and whether or not little Ginta will find his way home.

Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
MSRP: 7.99
Pages: 208
ISBN: 1-59116-902-X
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left