Princess Ninja Scroll Tenka Muso Vol. #02 (Mania.com)

By:Jarred Pine
Review Date: Monday, May 22, 2006
Release Date: Wednesday, February 01, 2006



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Akane Sasaki
Translated by:Naomi Kukubo & Steven Hoffman
Adapted by:

What They Say
So far, Han and her new friends have been able to overcome everything that the enemy's thrown at them. But what happens when their next enemy turns out to be one of their own?! The feared Nobunaga is finally revealed, but is he the real enemy? Chaos and all-out war break loose, with Han, Kotaro, Sukesaburou, and Kakunoshin's lives caught in the heat of it all!

The Review
Sometimes it is better to keep things simple with a shorter length manga.


Packaging:
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.

Art:
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.

Text/SFX:
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):
There is a point somewhere in the middle of this final volume of Tenka Muso where I wanted to hit the brakes and get off the ride. I've seen it happen many times with these shorter length series; one to three volume titles that try so hard to force a lot of drama or epic action into the final few pages. The problem is that with limited time, everything starts to crumble because the short length did not allow for any support to be built. Or maybe it's the robots and machines that have taken over Feudal Era Japan after receiving consciousness from some god of a mythical nation.

I see you have a blank stare on your face. Let me explain. Lord Nobunaga was looking to rule the land with ultimate power derived from Jipang, the mythical land contained within the scrolls that he and Hanzo carry, by creating machines to replace humans. The problem arose when the Azuchi God, who's never really explained, took over Nobunaga's machines and manifested its own will into them. Now Nobunaga disguises himself as Kaku, traveling with Hanzo so that he might be able to use her power to stop the machines from destroying Japan.

Now, I have read enough manga and watched plenty of anime to understand that such outrageous stories like this are common and not to be taken seriously. The story here is really a short piece about friendship and how the bonds between friends can overcome all. It is a very common yet very important shounen message. However, rather than letting the story illustrate this message to the reader, it is pounded into your skull every few pages with "rah rah" type reassurances. Ultimately the characters are left shallow and detached, placed in a story where too much is happening.

Comments
The final installment of Tenka Muso takes what was already a fragile, average storyline and puts too much stress on its weak support structures with forced drama, action, and an all too convoluted ending. The message of friendship overcomes is lost on the shallow characters despite the constant reminders from them that, yes, their friendship will win because they said so.

The story would have worked much better as a series of comedic hijinks featuring cute and energetic characters without the complex mess surrounding robots with the consciousness of some god who are taking over Japan. The anacronym KISS comes right to mind.



Mania Grade: C-
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
MSRP: 12.95
Pages: 200
ISBN: 1569709548
Size: A5
Orientation: Right to Left