Heat Guy J Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Jarred Pine
Review Date: Thursday, July 21, 2005
Release Date: Friday, July 01, 2005

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Chiaki Ogishima
Translated by:Beni Axia Hirayama
Adapted by:

What They Say
Daisuke Aurora works with the special division of peacekeepers in the city of Jewde, one of the largest cities on the planet. He and his android partner, Heat Guy J, team up to make sure that anything illegal stays off the streets and out of circulation. However, their presence doesn't sit too well with the local mob leader -- a ruthless, unbalanced, well-armed son of the late Don, who is out to prove that he is not too young to take over the family business. In the city that never sleeps, will Daisuke and Heat Guy J end up sleeping with the fishes?

The Review
Based of the anime, this manga adaptation of Heat Guy J retells a couple stories while adding in a couple new ones without revealing anything new about the city of Jewde.

The glossy cover features a color illustration of Daisuke and J, with a large logo along the bottom. The logo looks like concrete, with red, yellow, and orange colors, accompanied by the Japanese letters underneath. The print job is solid with crisp looking tones and no noticeable signs of fading.

Inside there are a plethora of extras at the back of the book. There are 6 pages of a newsletter called “J-Hot Press” from Magazine Z which summarizes a lot of what was going on in the anime. Following those pages are character sketches and profiles, as well as environment sketches and notes. The kicker is the 4 page interview with the anime director Kazuki Akane that took place in the middle of the series production.

The character artwork pretty much follows Yuki’s character designs from the anime, with the eyes having that shoujo, watery style. The line and tone work are very clean, with some nice detailing with the city background and androids. A couple of the chapters feature some fan-service heavy designs, an android in a string bikini and a lab tech in lacy lingerie, for those interested.

SFX are untouched and not translated. The dialog reads clearly and there are no errors, but nothing really special jumps out about it. I do especially like how J’s dialog was handled. It has that overly proper feel with a robotic tone that you would think an android would have. J’s little philosophies about being a man also are worth a good chuckle.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
The city of Jewde, one of seven on the planet, is an interesting mix of high technology and underground crime. Transportation between the cities is limited, and doing so without permission will label one a “refugee” and is considered a criminal offense. The crime lords will try to use secret routes between the cities to sell or trade illegal goods, one of which are androids. All production of androids was declared illegal after Daisuke Aurora’s father was murdered by an assassin android sent by the Leonelli crime family. With such powerful crime families battling for control of the city, violence and other criminal elements are plentiful.

Daisuke is now a member of a 3-man sub-division of the “Department of Secured City” called “Special Services”, where leads are investigated in order to prevent crime from happening. Cases can range from tracking down refugees entering the city to serial bombers to illegal androids. Helping out Daisuke is Kyoko, the conservative auditor, and a secret android called J. The reasons for his creation are unknown, but he has been programmed to protect Daisuke’s life at all costs.

The first two chapters of the book deal with two episodes from the anime, and are pretty much identical from what I remember. The first chapter deals with an illegal android entering the city, episode 1 from the anime, and the second follows Daisuke as he tracks down a serial bomber who is handing out “Angel Diva Cards”, trading cards with photos of the local women of Jewde. These two chapters set up a lot of the setting of Jewde and how the city functions, leaving a lot of questions as to why to the reader. Unfortunately, there aren’t any answers and you’ll have to watch the anime to find out more.

The last two chapters are strange in that instead of flushing out any sort of story to wrap up the end of the volume, we get instead gratuitous fan-service androids trying to attack Daisuke and J. Shin Aurora, Daisuke’s brother, is introduced, giving us a peek into the hierarchy of DoSC, but nothing really important comes out of it. In the last chapter, Vampire, head of the Leonelli family, hires a mysterious assassin named Boma to go after Daisuke and J, but this is done on the last few pages of the story, leaving the reader hanging there with no choice but to watch the anime.

Overall, the manga just feels like a primer for someone to be introduced to the anime world of Heat Guy J. As someone who already watched the anime, I suppose I was hoping for some more insight into the world of Jewde and it’s surrounding world. Instead I got rehashed stories and pointless fan-service androids.

The Heat Guy J anime was a unique twist on the buddy cop storyline and crime drama genre, all set in an interesting city filled with thugs, hookers, illegal androids, and mysterious sci-fi elements. Unfortunately, the manga adaptation fails to capture that freshness, with half of the volume being re-treaded territory and the other half boring fan-service nonsense that does nothing to bring out the intricacies of the setting that I enjoyed in the anime. The end also stops mid-stride with no other volumes to follow in sight.

There are plenty of extras in the back of the book that fans of the anime might find interesting, including an interview with director Kazuki Akane, but that is about the only selling point I could find for this book. Unless you want a few pages of an extremely voluptuous android in a string bikini to look at. In the end, the book feels like a sampler for advertising the anime and didn’t offer much for me to chew on.

Mania Grade: C
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 224
ISBN: 1-59182-777-9
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left