King of Fighters 2003 Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Jarred Pine
Review Date: Saturday, July 09, 2005
Release Date: Friday, April 01, 2005



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Wing Yan/King Tung
Translated by:Ken Li/Stephen Ip
Adapted by:

What They Say
The "King of Fighters Tournament" has grown to be the most renowned martial arts contest in the world. New rules and new fighters brings constant media coverage, making KOF 2003 the largest of all previous tournaments. SNK's most famous video game characters come to life in King of Fighters 2003!

The Review
Packaging:
The book is presented in A4 format and in full color. The cover features Ash Crimson, Shen Woo, and Duo Lon doing their best pose with the KOF 2003 logo in the top left. The back cover feature more color character artwork featuring K’, Maxima, and Whip. The covers are also glossy, really popping the colors and letting them shine. The paper is also a thick, glossy paper that really does the color illustrations justice. There are no extras, but the back does have a few ads for SNK games and other DrMaster titles, all done in color also.

Art:
The artwork features some great looking color illustrations mixed with some CG layouts that at times are fantastic looking. The overall feel is definitely more like an American comic book than manga or other Asian comics. Characters are all very stylish with creative clothing designs and hairstyles. The action scenes featuring a lot of bright colors and explosions, but I thought it remained pretty flat and never really popped off the page as much as I would have liked.

Text/SFX:
SFX are translated and retouched, in full color! Since it looks like this was probably digitally put together, I imagine the SFX were a layer that was easily removed and the English SFX were applied in their place. The result is that they look really nice and feel quite natural. The dialogue translation is fine with no errors, but there is an error where the fourth chapter was displayed as “Chapter 3”.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
King of Fighters 2003 is an adaptation of the SNK video games, featuring many of the SNK characters from their fighting franchise games. Kusanagi, K’, Ash Crimson, Shen Woo, and many others make their appearances here as they all come from around the world to Hong Kong in order to take part in the most dangerous and famous fighting tournament ever. However, the tournament isn’t just a place for strong fighters to beat on each other, it also brings together bitter rivalries and tense relationships. Many are out to settle the score for their own personal reasons. For now, the fighters begin to get together their 3-man teams for this 3-on-3 style tournament.

The biggest obstacle I found with getting into this story is that I have no experience whatsoever with any of the KOF or SNK franchises. I have no idea who these characters are, what they’ve done in their pasts, and why Kusanagi and K’ spent the whole first part of the book beating each other into a pulp. I suppose this book is for the diehard fans of the franchises, but it does nothing to help the novice reader catch up with all the events leading up to the beginning of this story. So I spent a good chunk of this first volume trying to get a good footing.

Even after getting settled down, the story really doesn’t go anywhere and fails to grab my attention. A bunch of fighters begin to converge on Hong Kong, and they always great each other with their fists ready. The fights are portrayed just like an arcade game, with special moves spelled out in the text and everyone seems to have some superpower or unlimited strength. The fights are not really all that exciting either, partly because the arcade style doesn’t come across very well but mostly because there is no idea of character motivations for me. It’s just a bunch of hotheads with big egos bumping chests. I think once we start to get into the actual tournament, the action might pick up a bit, but for now I’m left wanting more than I’m able to get.

Comments
KOF 2003 so far definitely seems to be a title for the fans of the SNK fighting franchises who know and understand these characters already. Being one who knows nothing about these franchises, I felt as though I was left out in the cold for most of the book. Guys are fighting, but I have no clear idea of their motivations or relationships. The color artwork and CG designs are very nice to look at, but the fight action never really took off for me. At this point I’m just wanting the tournament to start so I can see some fights, as nothing else is really grabbing me at the moment.



Mania Grade: C-
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: DrMaster
MSRP: 13.95
Pages: 130
ISBN: 1-58899-030-3
Size: A4
Orientation: Right to Left