Jinki: Extend Vol. #02 (Mania.com)

By:Eduardo M. Chavez
Review Date: Saturday, May 21, 2005
Release Date: Sunday, August 01, 2004



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Tunasima Sirou
Translated by:Kay Bertrand
Adapted by:

What They Say
Akao Hiragi, the young girl chosen to pilot a jinki, has fallen into the grasp of miscreants and evildoers, and her only hope of rescue lies with the soccer-loving Elnie and samurai sword-toting Ryohei. These two will be up against more than the average jinki, as new prototypes are summoned against them in the midst of battle.

Meanwhile, Satsuki must relive her earlier trauma, as she is forced to recount the painful details. Such memories have driven her to hatred before, but she is now convinced that her vengeance lies in becoming a jinki pilot. The pilots appear to be on the winning side of combat, but another menacing shadow looms on the horizon.

The Review
Packaging:
Typical of ADV titles this version of Jinki retains the original front and back cover art, color pages and volume headers. So basically if you happen to own the MagGarden version that should look almost exactly the same as ADV‘s (apart from the lack of a dust jacket). The front cover features Aoba, a character from the physically enhanced enemy faction Hachi Shojin, positioned in a strange battle stance in front of what appears to be the two versions of the Touja model Jinki. The image is not as bright as the previous entries, as Aoba is covered in dark form fitting clothing. There is a slight etchi feel to all of this, not just because of Aoba’s pose and her outfit but for some reason, there is a nude female figure is tied to the Jinki's headpiece. The opposite cover does not feature a blurb; instead, it has an image with the two lead characters, Akao and Ryohei racing. Because the logo was originally in English, there was no need to change it (but that has not stopped other studios). I have to say it is a little big, but it works.
Inside, the printing is still a little dark. Coupled with the fact that Tunasima-sensei tends to use heavy inking techniques and I was a little disappointed with the presentation. Tone tends to fade to black a lot and a bit of detailing is lost as well. I also had some issues with the alignment. This was originally in a B6 that is a few millimeters shorter than this GN, so I was surprised to see images cut off on some pages and then the image being cropped on others.
At the end of the GN, ADV included character intros, mech notes, translation notes and a preview blurb for volume 3. They also put in an add for Peacemaker Kurogane.

Artwork:
Tunasima's art is not too shabby. He tends to use heavy inking techniques, which sadly did not look great in my copy due to printing. His lines are thick and tight, which give his character designs a slight squared-off feel to them. Costume designs are fun, but with the setting being 1991 Tokyo and Brazil, they do not seem very appropriate.

Mechanical designs are pretty crappy. So far the Jinki presented have been really bulky and do not seem to be built for combat. In some ways their large builds remind me of construction labors from Mobile Police PatLabor. With such clunky designs, there is no wonder that the action scenes are often mediocre, at best. Most of those scenes are pretty brief with short meelee battles. The rest are cut scenes in the cockpits - where characters posture or tend to panic under fire - leaving Tunasima to work on his character designs instead of physics and battle tactics. In some ways, I feel Tunasima almost feels the battle scenes are just boring, because now he has resorted to silly tactics like a soccer ball kicking jinki to shake things up a bit. Yes, I am serious.

Background designs are good and at times, I feel they are the strongest aspect to Tunasima's art. There is a good amount of detail and there is a good amount of imagination in regards to some of the sci-fi environments. The layout is confusing. I feel the real problem comes from poor perspective and how bad Tunashima's action scenes are. I can see that improving with time, but currently the layout had me slowing down a bit too often for my taste.

SFX/Translation:
This is my first experience with Jinki so I cannot compare it to its raw version, but I can say the translation sounds fine. I did not notice typos as much as in the first volume. ADV has also provided some good notes at the end of the GN. This time the notes go over info on the Jinki.
As Tunasima is prone to use hyperactive layouts with crowded panels, ADV's SFX subbing techniques tend to often compromise art. I am not sure why they did not use smaller subs, as they have in other titles. Inconsistency in this aspect seems to be a problem with almost every studio out there.

Contents:
If one is to take on a Jinki, one needs a Jinki of their own. Right now, the only way Ryohei and Elnie can rescue Akao is by getting a hold of one of these machines. They only know of one person who can afford to spare one - the reclusive and hotheaded Mel J. Prying a Jinki from her hands, will be as difficult as defeating the Hachi Shojin, but this is a risk they must take. There is no time to waste, so these two old friends are going to go across the planet to find this Mel and take what belongs to them back.

They will soon learn that fighting is not for those who do not have their own strength. Those who do not have a reason to fight will never have the ability to take on not to mention defeat their enemies. There is too much to overcome under those situations, while the opponent has the advantage of taking on someone that is already engaged in a personal battle. Akao, Elnie and even Mel will have to rise above their problems. No one is able to help them through this. It is up to them alone, as individuals fighting their individual battles, and their Jinki. If they have the confidence in their machines, they are capable of great things. If not they will end up failing their first major test, and the only result from something like that is death.

Comments
What do you fight for? What are you willing to lose everything for? How far would you go for that?

Sound like simple questions, however most people do not really think about these ideas until disaster strikes. Akao was the same way. Sure she had her problems when at the shrine where she lived and worked. She was alone and she felt she had to repay those who cared for her and that was her main concern. She cared for these people, but she never really considered how she would feel if they were threatened. Now she is one of the few capable of protecting not only her friends, but humanity. She took to her Jinki not sure of the magnitude of her abilities, but believing there were no other solutions. She never thought she was fighting to defend them all. She never thought of all of the responsibility her actions would take on. She never thought about what she would sacrifice or even if she is able to sacrifice anything for her beliefs. Akao was not able to see any of that until she was in need of rescuing. Survival is an instinctual concept that opens Akao’s eyes. When she fights for her own survival, she realizes how that is extended to everyone else she is defending. Her survival will mean the survival of thousands. Equally, the well-being of those around her will motivate her to fight harder.

This is a concept that is common in many stories, Jinki seems to be using that ideal for Akao specifically. I am not sure how that will pan out considering how volatile the personalities of the pilots are. New characters Elnie and Mel J are self-involved. Elnie is immature and easily distracted. Mel J is a hot-headed recluse vigilante. Neither of these characters had reservations for going into battle, however their motivations were left unanswered. None of the main characters, apart from Akao, has had much page time to develop much. Nevertheless, as they stand right now there are a few factions already and the striking personalities alone have been rasping even without any actual interpersonal conflict. That is not a good sign, but given that this is still the second volume in the series there is plenty of time for these personalities to be worked on.

What can I say, Jinki: EXTEND has greatly improved from the first volume to the second. Where Tunasima has improved has been by understanding the purpose of a plot and not falling for the worst devices to maintain shock value. I will not say that he has cut that from this series entirely, that is not the case. However, Tunasima is now using those situations a little more imaginatively. Soccer balls are being kicked by Jinki as a long distance defense mechanism (very stupid idea, but cute). Then there is the Hachi Shojin's flying fortress which has so much space inside that a Latin American town is stored in its hull (reminds me of Macross, but the city is empty, so what's the point). Attempted rapes are still tossed in for fun, for the shock value of having characters stripped is still more of a focus instead of moving the plot. This is where Jinki: EXTEND fails. Tunasima has to learn to have confidence in the story and the characters more. These silly concepts are pointless and have been a hindrance from the start of this series. I have to say that after a short while, with so many new characters I have forgotten that there is a series before this and that is important, however this series still needs to fix its own issues before it be able to firmly stand on its own as a good sci-fi series.



Mania Grade: C+
Art Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: B-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: ADV Manga
MSRP: 9.95
Pages: 194
ISBN: 1-4139-0090-9
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left