Dazzle (aka: Hatenko Yugi) Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, February 17, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, January 10, 2006
Translated by:Yoohae Yang
What They Say
A young girl named Rahzel is abruptly sent off to see the world by her father. She is alone on her journey... until she meets Alzeido, a mysterious lone traveler on a mission to find his father's killer. Even though they initially don't get along, the two become travel partners, helping each other on their respective journey. Little by little, Alzeido opens his heart to Rahzel. They meet various people throughout their travels, including some with rather sinister intentions...
Tokyopop did a marvelous job packaging this manga. The colors on the cover are very appealing. On the front is a picture of a playful-looking Rahzel in a ruffled, lace up bodice style dress (looks like something a cancan dancer would wear) with an impassive looking Alzeid. The blue of Rahzel's eyes and dress are a nice match for the silver of Alzeid's hair and the gray-tiled background behind them. To the left of them is the title logo oriented vertically.
In contrast to the cool colors on the front, the back has a picture of Baroque-heat in warm red and brown tones above the story summary. He's smirking and lounging on what looks like a cow hide with a one-eyed dog on his lap (haven't figured out what the point of the dog is yet). Kind of odd, but still pretty.
This manga is packed with extras. There are two omake (one after Chapter 3 and one at the end), two very detailed sets of author' s notes, and a full-page character profile on Rahzel. My only criticisms are that the print does seem to run dark in places, some pages were cut too close to the text and art work, and that Tokyopop labeled this manga as a "drama." I personally would have labeled it more as an action/adventure/comedy. (See my comments below)
SFX & TRANSLATIONS:
This translation is printed with the original Japanese sound effects, which are translated sometimes as overlay and sometimes in the border between panels. (Unfortunately when they put the translated text in border space, the font is really tiny and can be missed in a quick skim.)
No honorifics, although at one point characters get into an argument ABOUT honorifics and they don’t bother to include a definition of “sama” or “dono.” Interestingly enough, they define almost all other Japanese cultural references elsewhere in footnotes (again in the teeny tiny font).
Dialogue translation is top-notch, and reflect the characters’ individuality well (and yes, Rahzel has a HUGE potty-mouth). They also vary the font style in a couple places, which is a nice touch. Unfortunately, the font is really small in some places and can get overlooked in the background.
Character artwork is clean though somewhat unrefined. Personally, her designs don’t particularly appeal to me (a little too angular for me).
The backgrounds aren’t particularly impressive. Endoh mentions in her author's notes that she was rushed to meet her deadlines, and it looks as if she tried to compensate by using random screen tones for background filler.
There are several action (mostly fighting) scenes, and their effectiveness in conveying movement is about average. Part of the difficulty is that Endoh crowds a lot of detail into some of her panels and that detail can get lost, especially in the smaller panels. That may not entirely be her fault. These scenes would probably come across much clearer if printed in a larger magazine-sized format.
Welcome to the world of Dazzle, where magic, European architecture, Japanese food, and modern fashion combine in a fantasy backdrop for our main characters. Rahzel is a monstrously strong, somewhat violent, talkative 14-year-old girl with a penchant for Lolita style clothes who gets abruptly thrown out of her loving father's house to see the world. By chance she happens to run into Alzeid, a stony-faced 24-year-old (to me, he looks a lot like Sephiroth from Final Fantasy). Interestingly enough, he, like Rahzel, can wield magic, which can only be controlled by a very few in this world. Drawn by his good looks and dismayed by his all-consuming desire for revenge, she decides to partner up with him and try to turn his life around.
Endoh follows their teaming up with three short vignettes on their travels, and it is through these experiences that Rahzel and Alzeid's relationship becomes more defined. In the first story, Rahzel helps out a girl on the run from the patrol squad (the police). In the second, Alzeid allows himself to be confined (in a giant birdcage!) by a rich young girl who wants to keep him as a pet. In the third, Rahzel takes on a ghost busting job, which takes an interesting twist.
The last two chapters in this volume, the duo come across some characters from Alzeid's past. In the process of helping a young boy, Vincent, fend off some bullies, Rahzel encounters Baroque-heat and Soresta, who served with Alzeid in the Army. The two men are accompanying Vincent on a journey to meet his family, but Rahzel soon realizes that Baroque-heat and Soresta are not all that they seem.
For all the effort that Tokyopop put into producing this series, I am not particularly impressed with the actual story. As mentioned above, I personally would have labeled this series as an action/adventure/comedy. I am guessing that the drama label stems from the fact that Alzeid is seeking vengeance for his father. However, the storyline is not particularly angstsy at all. Alzeid's brooding serves more to set him up as the "straight man" in the slapstick scenes than to mire the story in drama. Actually, more than anything, the story strikes me as random. Rahzel's father randomly throws her out of the house. Rahzel randomly meets Alzeid. Rahzel randomly decides that she wants to travel with Alzeid. Alzeid randomly decides that he's going to tolerate her. And most of the manga covers their misadventures as they randomly travel around without any particular destination in mind.
The manga is very episodic. While the overarching storyline has to do with Alzeid's quest to avenge his father, only the first chapter touches on the subject with any depth (although chapters 6 and 7 do give you tiny hints about Alzeid's past). Chapters 2, 3, 4, and 5 are primarily about their misadventures as they try to earn enough to eat and survive on the road (it reminds me a lot of the struggles of the inhabitants of the Bebop in Cowboy Bebop). I think that Endoh is trying to use these chapters to build up the relationship between Alzeid and Rahzel. However, I don't find it convincing at all. There's no chemistry between the two, and I still can't figure out why Alzeid doesn't just ditch Rahzel.
That aside, this particular translation and type of story would probably be a good starter series for someone who has never read manga before, especially one who enjoys fantasy stories and prefers shorter storylines. There's no Japanese honorifics to trip a newbie reader up, nor does this series require any other knowledge of Japanese culture.
Mania Grade: C
Art Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: B+
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
Orientation: Right to Left