Dragon Voice Vol. #05 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, October 18, 2005
Release Date: Saturday, October 01, 2005
Translated by:Mike Keifl
What They Say
The Beatmen are sent back to school by their boss as part of their idol training. But even at a school for performers and superstars, you have to get good grades in math and literature! Unfortunately, after a disastrous performance on television, everyone thinks the Beatmen can't make the grade. As midterms approach quickly the Beatmen learn that studying music and studying math might just be mutually exclusive. Also when Shino's asthma suddenly kicks up, he may well decide to leave the group for good!
The Beatmen are back with brand new outfits and dance routines! The story formula begins to wear thin, but things seem to get back on track by book’s end.
TOKYOPOP used the same cover illustration as the original tankoubon, but decided to jazz up the bland red backgrounds with some graphical effects of their own that look much better than the original. The colors are really deep and vibrant, really looking nice on the matte finish. The print reproduction looks great with sharp looking tones with no fading and minimal tone distortion.
There are plenty of chapter inserts featuring character bios and other words from Nishiyama-sensei. Extras at the back of the book include another 2-page installment of the Dragon Trek mini-manga and some more words about the happenings with the creator and the crew.
Nishiyama-sensei’s artwork is very solid with this title, much improved over her previous effort with Harlem Beat/Rebound. The pretty boy character designs are nicely done with great line work and solid shading techniques, especially with all the attention to detail with the outfits. The chapter inserts with the character artwork are also excellent work. There are a good amount of backgrounds that are quite solid. The panel layouts are varied, but it all stays very clean and uncluttered, a problem that I had with her previous works.
SFX are not translated and left untouched. Translation reads nicely as far as I can tell without being familiar with the original text. I like how a different font is used for Rin’s voice, since his voice is supposed to stand out amongst the others. The translated song lyrics seem to be more of a literal translation rather than an adaptation.
Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
Nishiyama-sensei has a formula for her idol band manga that she has been using consistently for each and every volume. Take one boy band, add an outrageous scenario with a dash of conflict, stir in some trouble, bake for a few chapters, and then reveal the dish with a big dance number at the end that reminds us all that hard work will make your dreams come true. To her credit, Nishiyama works this formula quite well, as it is a standard shounen sports theme but the boy band twist is fresh enough to keep things from getting too stale. With this 5th volume, the storyline continues this formula which is starting to feel a little overused and the dance routines are beginning to be a bit much.
The first part of this volume finds The Beatmen hitting the books at Fujinomiya Academy, a school for entertainers. They think everything is going to be a breeze until they run into a tough teacher that isn’t going to cut them any slack and treats them like normal students. Homework is due on time and they will have to pass their midterms with a minimum score of 70 if they want to keep performing while being students of the academy. This whole scenario is a very bland and uninspired storyline in order to change the settings for the Beatmen so a couple characters can enter the picture in the following story. Considering all the possible conflicts and relationship stories that could be told, it is a bit frustrating to sit through a few chapters of The Beatmen making the grade. At this point the recycled formula is starting to wear a bit thin.
The rest of the book moves more into the type of direction that I had hoped to see the story go. The Beatmen are set to record a maxi-single, which is Rin’s first time in the recording studio. He has to learn the ropes and find out about how hard it is to make a record. The Beatmen also have to learn how to write their own lyrics, as they cannot afford to hire a lyricists for their two new songs. They all struggle to find the right words, but find inspiration when Shino comes down with a major asthma attack that could possible end his stint with The Beatmen. Through Shino’s struggles we learn about how important he is to the team dynamics of the group, especially in serving as a pillar of strength for Yuhgo and Rin. It’s a good story mixing both the pressures within the industry as well as between the group members themselves, which of course all ends in yet another extravagant dance sequence with brand new outfits! There are a lot of cheesy lines about trying your best, some unintentionally funny shots of the Beatmen posing like bishounen extraordinaires in their outfits (what’s up with that Beach Scene!?!), and dance routines everywhere, but the silliness of it all is kind of charming.
Nishiyama-sensei’s boy band formula begins to wear a bit thin at the beginning of this volume, but by book’s end some more interesting events and storylines begin to appear. The story seems to moving back into dealing with the music industry pressures and the effects on the band members and their relationships, which is a direction I’m hoping it will seriously take. Overall I am still entertained and the characters are quite enjoyable, although I think the dance routines could be turned down a wee bit.
Mania Grade: B-
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
Orientation: Right to Left