Orphen Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Release Date: Monday, March 07, 2005
Writer/Artist:Akita Yoshinobu/Sawada Hajime
Translated by:Brendan Frayne
What They Say
The sorcerer Orphen is on a magic-for-hire mission, and along with his wand-wielding understudy and bone headed companion, he must retrieve a magical ring from the mansion of a beautiful young woman. This should be no sweat for the seasoned sorcerer, but a short-tempered maid with an interest in the black arts will complicate an already sticky situation. Orphen has his spellbinding hands full, and no disappearing act will get him out this
As I am reviewing a b/w uncorrected galley proof, I cannot thoroughly grade the packaging. I will describe it as best as possible.
Presented in a tall B6, Orphen appears to be getting a new cover design from ADV. ADV uses the original character art, featuring Cleao and Orphen, and blows it up. The image is then put on a static background with a patterned frame. Very simple and stylish; it really understates the comedy and action that this series is based on. The opposite cover has an SD version of Orphen standing next to a long volume description. All f this is framed in a pattern similar to that which is on the front.
Inside, there is an interesting volume header with what looks like a different character design. I hope this is done in color in the final print. The printing is very dark, but that is standard for proofs like this. ADV also includes a pair of extras - an ato-gaki from Sawada-sensei and a love test. The extras are then followed by an ad for Cromatie High School.
I was disappointed with the art for this series. As nice as Sawada’s art is, with its thick lines and good proportions, it does not do justice to the original character designs from Kusaka Yuuya. The character designs are quite comical, especially the expressions and Sawada tends to use a lot of unnecessary inking for shading. I often felt that with less detail, the character art would look better. Funny how that worked.
The background art is pretty good. Sawada uses it quite a bit and there is a good amount of detail to it. I like the old world feel to it. With all of the destruction and slapstick, backgrounds tend to be important to the progression of the story, so I appreciated the effort. The layout is great. There is a large variety of panel sizes and perspectives used. The comical aspect of this series had the artist using a lot of manpu, but it does not distract too much (… but it does a little).
In typical ADV form the SFX are all subbed next to the originals. For this series, they used small subs instead of ones similar in size to the originals. Good idea, but better is how I did not notice them sub aside text for this series. This has cleared up what usually ends up being clutter in manga panels, especially in an action title like this.
The translation is generally good. While there might not be honorifics (which would have been interesting especially with how these characters interact), the context and the flow of the story felt just right. Good job, especially how the personalities were presented. There was one problem though, they spelled Orphen's name wrong. It is Krylancelo not Krycanelo. Seeing that this is a proof, that should be fixed in the final print.
Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Sorcerers often get a bad reputation. They tend to be recluses, which focus their time on the dark forces. Often it is difficult to tell if their research is for the benefit or the determent of the public. Quite often the magic they study is purely for selfish reasons alone, making sorcerers even more mysterious and suspicious.
Orphen uses his magic to pay his bills. A dropout of the famous sorcerer's guild, the Tower of Fangs, Orphen is a sorcerer for hire that uses his magic to help his community and to fund his projects. The pay is not great, he has to deal with the best and worst of society, but ultimately, it is a job, and he takes responsibility for his situation. As with any job, there are definitely moments when hard work does not pay. These are the times when Orphen stops being a law-abiding magician and uses his powers for himself alone. Living day-to-day can force people into such circumstances, Orphen, though, tends to appear to take a certain pleasure doing so.
In this "silly" version of Orphen, slapstick comedy and Orphen's debt become the focus of this fantasy based action adventure. Based off one of the two novel series (do all Fujimi Shobo titles do this - FMP!, Louie, Slayers...), Orphen follows a plot similar to the anime (available from ADV Films). Where it varies is in the pacing and delivery. Characters are caricatured more into their specific roles. Majic is much whinier and is not as cautious. Cleao is more cunning and almost spiteful. Orphen is Orphen, but he does not possess as much confidence as the more serious anime has him. Volcan appears to be suffering from various conditions, some physiological and others psychological. Okay he is much more violent and illogically insane in this series. His brother is not the coward he is in the anime, but he is more like the group's gopher (taking that position from Majic). In the end, every character is set and they each get a good amount of play, but over-exposure brings this title down a notch. The supporting cast should never steal the show this much in a short series, but there they are providing comic relief when it is not really needed. I would have much rather started the first arc sooner than have to endure the slapstick. Fortunately, the fantasy elements are pretty good. There is plenty of magic in this world and the lead character uses his skills often with some variety. This is key as the story progresses. Sorcery and over-zealousness will play a part in the future. Orphen will have to come to terms with his skill to overcome the obstacles set before him. I hope that the comedy will not distract along the way.
As a long-time Orphen fan, this series has always caught me off-guard. I cannot help but like Orphen's badass attitude, his magical skill and the honor he shows to those around him (that are not named Volcan). The manga does that and adds more to his personality. That said, with all the manga does add, I end up feeling this series is overdone. The unique world of Orphen, a fantasyland full of magic and mysticism but also encompassing ideas of science and more modern technologies is already interesting enough. The jobs Orphen gets are fine enough alone. In a six volume series, I want a tight story from start to finish. I am in agreement with the artist when he said he would rather draw a serious version instead. Silly is fun. Silly is not bad here. However, with this being my second time around with this manga, and now that I have seen the anime, silly is not for me and it is not very Orphen either.
Mania Grade: B-
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: N/A
Text/Translatin Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: ADV Manga
Orientation: Right to Left