Princess Ninja Scroll Tenka Muso Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Translated by:Naomi Kukubo & Steven Hoffman
What They Say
In the 16th century, the evil Nobunaga rampages across the land in pursuit of the "Tenka Mus?'s" limitless power. When his vicious troops arrive at simple village, caught in the middle is Han, teen slacker and assistant to the village baker. Han soon reveals herself as Hattori Hanzo; a sexy skilled 18 year old ninja trapped in a 13 year old's body. Infuriated at Nobunaga's brutality, Han vows to take the fight to its source, finish what Nobunaga started and send him where he belongs! An epic series inspired by the true life events of Japan's greatest ninja, accomplished samurai, and a source of inspiration for Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill!
When there is a whole gamut of historically based manga on the market, one must really do something fresh and interesting to rise above the pack. Unfortunately, this title starts off about as average as can be.
DMP continues to put together some really nice looking books. We get a dust jacket, which hides omake manga on the real front and back covers, with a sharp looking cover print on the jack itself. The larger trim size is always nice to hold in the hands. The print reproduction is not the sharpest, as I've seen better from DMP. There are also a few pages of talkback in manga form from the creator included as an extra.
Artwork is definitely cute and spunky, with the designs feeling quite average as far as this type of material goes. Super-deformed or chibi style designs are used quite often for attempted humor. Akane Sasaki does make full use of the pages though, with a variety of paneling and composition. It can get a little chaotic at times, but it does carry a lot of energy. The action artwork is decent, but nothing to write home about.
SFX are translated with English subs, which for the most part are kept quite small and away from covering up artwork. There are a couple exceptions, but nothing grievous at all. The English script reads quite well for the type of material, including honorifics and Japanese name order.
Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
To put it bluntly, Princess Ninja Scroll Tenka Musou is a completely average manga. It's comedy-based historical fantasy, referencing a lot of factual historical characters. These type of period manga are quite commonplace, so right away Tenka Musou had a lot to prove to become something memorable.
Our lead heroine is Hanzou Hattori, a spunky young girl with a huge appetite for sticky buns who has a great power seal inside her that was handed down from many generations of her clan. Sounds quite familiar, doesn't it? Her power comes from one of two scrolls, the other in the hands of the enemy, which when combined will lead to Jipang--the vision of God's country. Hanzou has the Scroll of Earth sealed inside of her, which when broken to unleash her power allows Hanzou to return to her normal age of a young woman. You see, when the scroll was sealed within her she stopped growing. Go, go, gadget empowerment!
Lord Nobunaga is terrorizing the land by wiping the earth clean of roaming ninja, and they come for Hanzou early on. She eventually meets up with two Nobunaga assassins, both male with one instantly developing a crush on Hanzou's womanly form, and both quite easily join her cause as sidekicks. Rivals becoming friends? Yup, I think we've seen that one before many times over, only this time it happens in the span of a single chapter.
The pacing overall is rather quick, with each chapter set up to introduce a character or two, maybe tell a background story, or remind Hanzou has she must keep moving forward! There's no real flow between the chapters, with an overall feeling of haphazardness in its episodic nature. The mood of the story is much more on the comedic side, with lots of deformed designs and random acts of aggression, which quite honestly had me rolling my eyes more than laughing. I'm sorry, but I just can't laugh at the same joke I've already seen told a million times better before.
Tenka Musou is one of the more average titles I have ever read. I can't really say anything bad about it that caused me to cringe, but the first volume never really did anything fresh, unique, or memorable. Characters come from molds that have been overused already and the storyline relies too much on bland repetitive comedy rather than anything really interesting. The artwork is cute and energetic, and I did enjoy seeing a female ninja lead in a very shounen type of story. The execution unfortunately is just so average that the manga had a really hard time keeping my attention.
Mania Grade: C
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
Orientation: Right to Left