Beyond the Beyond Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Ariadne Roberts
Review Date: Tuesday, June 05, 2007
Release Date: Tuesday, June 13, 2006



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yoshitomo Watanabe
Translated by:Emi Onishi
Adapted by:Mark Ilvedson

What They Say
Futaba, a boy that has grown up in an overprotective family, suddenly finds himself transported to a strange world, where he meets Kiara, the Amaranthine. They journey to find Kiara's true master, and along the way they meet a curious cast of characters, including the rabbit-like wizard Belbel and the mad prince Virid.


The Review
An irresistibly cute cast of oddities on a magical quest to find a clumsy, fairy-like girl's master is hard to pass up, no matter how 'grown up' you think you are.

Packaging:
Noticeable for its simplicity, this is definitely one of the more tasteful covers Tokyopop has put out in recent memory. It's pretty similar to the original cover, which is always appreciated. Both feature the same image of the beautiful Kiara against a backdrop of mystical circles, although the original was a bit plainer and not so purple. The lavender scheme is carried to the back, with a refreshingly accurate plot description, and markings for rating and genre. As far as extras go, there are just two teaser pages from the next volume printed with a fuzzy, degraded look that didn't appear intentional.

Artwork:
'Elfin' says it all. From kids to ghosts to bloodthirsty twins, almost everything is adorably twee. And despite that, it can still be effectively creepy when it needs to be, such as in the case of Prince Virid. The clothes are wonderfully designed, particularly Kiara's beautiful pixie garb. The artwork is very consistent, and quite similar to the brilliantly shaded, cartoony-cute style of Iwahara Yuji (Chikyu Misaki, King of Thorns). In cutesy manga, a popular trend lately has been to make everyone of almost any age nearly identical in body and face, but this manga doesn't do that: once the adults show up, the differences are apparent " not everyone is a skinny little babyface.

Text/SFX:
The script read well and without any errors. Some of Tokyopop's font choices in the past have been difficult to read without straining your eyes, but I was very pleased to find all text easy to read, even the small side dialogues. The SFX were untranslated, except for the ones in speech bubbles.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As he hangs out with his schoolmates, twelve year old Futaba Kudo hears a faint voice calling him from somewhere. Assuming he just heard something else, he heads home to quell the constant calls on his cellphone from his over-protective family checking up on him, but is stopped in his tracks when the voice comes back. This time it's attached to the body of a delicate girl coming out of the sky. She's so thrilled, calling him her 'master' and expressing her delight at finally meeting him. Unruffled, he calmly asks, "Are you some sort of witch? Do you come from some fantasy world?" Kiara says she came here just to meet him, but Futaba insists he didn't call her. Nonetheless, a cloaked stranger appears and attempts to attack with a sort of winged reptile, and orders it to destroy the Amaranthine's master. Kiara, still believing he's the one she was looking for, holds Futaba's hand and tries to cast a spell only she and her master could cast, which makes her realize Futaba really isn't the one she was looking for.

As they run away, powerless, his cellphone rings, and Kiara asks to borrow it. She tells him it can open the gate for a short time, and it will be her last chance at finding her master. Just when she's about to leave, the beast attacks again, and she is knocked out of the way. Spontaneously, Futaba grabs her hand and runs with her toward the gate, jumping into the other world.

In this foreign place, they meet the predictable mascot character: a rabbit-like wizard called Belbel with a sassy but wise personality. With her help, they proceed on through the land to find Kiara's true master, but along the way find endless people intending to capture the Amaranthine (Kiara) for themselves, including the frightening prince Virid. Futaba remains the sane, level-headed one who helps as much as he can, perseveres even in bad times, and keeps up the group's spirits.

Comments
The variety this single volume provides is impressive. It runs the gamut from paranormal, drama, adventure, comedy, fantasy and slice-of-life, yet keeps it all woven together without seeming jumpy or contradictory. The touches of camaraderie between new friends, unstoppable loyalty, and psychologically-tainted twins are used to great effect. It even has a dash of fanservice between Futaba and Virid for the yaoi fangirls, although the hints will be unnoticed by virtually everyone else.

I was surprised to see how charming the characters were, and that the animal mascot wasn't annoying! Truly a rare thing. Futaba is an admirable boy, with an eager, virtuous personality that meshes well with Kiara's lamb-like innocence. Stories of dauntless characters seeking their mate, wherever they may be, is a favorite plot of mine, but even if you aren't already hooked on such a plotline, Beyond the Beyond should find many readers easily. It's got the charm to appeal to girls and boys, from kids to teenagers and even bitter adults like me. A fantastic start to a very promising series.



Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: C+
Text/Translatin Rating: A-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
MSRP: 9.99
Pages: 192
ISBN: 978-1598163711
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: Beyond the Beyond