Pilgrim Jäger Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Tuesday, January 11, 2005
Release Date: Monday, November 01, 2004
Writer/Artist:Ubukata Toh / Itoh Mami
Translated by:Julia Rose
What They Say
She fans the fire...
She brandishes the spear Longinus...
But knows not what she possesses...
The year 1521 was a time of religious confusion and strife. There was persecution of non-Christians over petty confusions and differing opinions. The world was in chaos... but from this chaos would rise two women of strength and charity to fight in the name of all that is holy!
Media Blasters did everything right with this presentation. First, they used the original logo and cover art, featuring Adele Nahashid and her crimson alpha cross "the Fennel Stalk." I like how the image and logo jump of the black background cover. The opposite cover simply has a close-up on the Fennel Stalk and 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 and seven more pages in full color. 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 list of tarot cards (in English and Italian), a glossary of terms, two pages of ato-gaki art from each of the mangaka and ads for Kamunagara #2, Pilgrim Jäger #2 and rareFlix.
Altogether, this is easily one of the better releases I have seen in a while.
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.
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)
In the sixteenth century, much of the western world was changing. It was a time of intellectual growth and a time religious persecution. Very few had rights in this time and diseases like the plague were ravaging entire communities. It was a paradox that brought tremendous hope and continued to develop great despair amongst others. So how do people's minds and ideals change in a time when thought is under watch by religion and government? Adele Nahashid and Karin Atlantic, two young women living in this era, must do what the majority of people do in this age - struggle to survive. It is not a choice they made for themselves; history has destined them to live this way. They have been cursed to live in a time when being different could mean death. They attempt to hide their true nature behind the same religion that persecutes them and hunts them down as witches. To live in this age, they will try to change all that if possible. Change though will not come easy.
In Pilgrim Jäger, Ubukata and Itoh take readers back to an age where our freedoms are constantly put to the test. There is no freedom of religion, freedom of expression and freedom of speech. People have to regulate themselves to survive in a time where being out of the ordinary could cost a person their life. Living in the darkness is the only way some cope with the daily grind and even then, they have to watch their steps for they cannot trust anyone to be completely quiet all the time. These two artists also show a glimmer of hope for change. Unfortunately, it does not seem to be coming from our heroines, instead it might be from those much deeper in the shadows pulling the strings that could lead whole city-states into chaos. At this point, it is hard to tell where the artists are taking Adele and Karin. I find it hard to tell what their purpose is right now, or even if they have one outside of someday living normal lives. Lucky for me the world that they have been placed in is interesting enough to keep me curious about what role they will eventually play in it... good/bad or whatever society dictates to them.
By combining historical settings, religious overtures and fantasy action Pilgrim Jäger reads like a manga for young adults and it definitely feels like one. It challenges readers because the subjects are harsh and appear to have little hope for this cast. In a way that is motivating me to continue with this title as it is quite different to most manga available in English. Ubukata and Itoh's combined efforts have created a lush and intriguing adventure with tremendous potential. I hope Media Blasters will be able to continue to bring this good-looking title out at the current level, for I can see it being the cornerstone for their early line-up.
Mania Grade: B
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: AW Productions
Orientation: Right to Left