O-Parts Hunter Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Thursday, November 23, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, December 19, 2006
Translated by:Tetsuichiro Miyaki
What They Say
Jio is a young boy with a tragic past who only trusts one thing in the world: money. Little does he suspect that he is also a very powerful O.P.T., and inside him sleeps a demon of incredible ferocity. He meets up with a girl named Ruby, and together they decide to embark on a dangerous quest to discover as many O-Parts as they can. Will Jio help Ruby realize her dream of becoming a world famous treasure hunter? More importantly, will Ruby help Jio realize his dream--of world domination?!
If you love shounen manga, then you'll find a lot of enjoyment here in this derivative yet enthusiastic title from the twin brother of that other manga-ka who did some story about ninjas or something.
Cover features the original Japanese artwork, with the new English logo replacing the Japanese title. The cover definitely lets the reader know what they are getting, straight-up shounen here! The coloring is a little blurry, but the print reproduction on the inside looks quite good. No color plates used on the first few pages and chapter inserts. Extras include a single page of character sketches and a summary of the O-Parts found in this volume.
Seishi Kishimoto's artwork is so similar to his brother's, that if it weren't for the fact that they are twins who were influenced by the same manga and grew up drawing together, the term "copycat" would be appropriate. If you liked the artwork in Naruto, then I have no doubts you'll enjoy what you'll find here. Character designs are definitely in that shounen adventure mold, with backgrounds simple yet effective and the highlight being the clean action artwork.
SFX are translated with overlays, which like most of VIZ titles are done quite well. They've got this down to a science. The original title "666 Satan" has obviously been changed, but the demonic references inside the book remain. The English script is handled quite well, although a few grammar errors made their way past the editing process.
Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
For probably every manga reader, especially shounen fans, the name Kishimoto is associated with the international phenomenon Naruto. But did you know that Masashi Kishimoto has a younger twin brother, who just also happens to be a manga creator? O-Parts Hunter, originally entitled 666 Satan and serialized in Square Enix's Monthly Shounen Gangan, is the debut title from Seishi Kishimoto; a release that has had its fair share of controversies mainly stemming from the title living within the large shadow cast by Naruto. Some will call O-Parts a copycat, but as Seishi would explain it in the early moments of this first volume, the two brothers just grew up reading the same manga (especially Toriyama's Dragonball franchise) and drawing together everyday; the similarities are inevitable.
That being said, after reading this introductory volume, it's not only clear that both brothers have been similarly influenced but Seishi Kishimoto is also riffing off quite a few other popular shounen manga franchises. The story is your basic shounen adventure set in a generic shounen fantasy world, with a young girl and boy out to collect relics of an ancient civilization (Dragon Balls, Dragonball) that can be wielded by trained users for powered-up good or evil purposes. It's the type of story that could be ripped from any shounen magazine by any publisher.
The boy, Jio, is unknowingly living with the slumbering soul of Satan inside himself (fox-demon, Naruto), whose main dream in life is "world domination" (the ultimate treasure, One Piece). Like most shounen manga boys, he has tragic beginnings; now leading a lonely life that has left him a bit snarky and defensive. Ahh, the classic tragic, lonesome shounen anti-hero. He is accompanied by Ruby, the daughter of a famous O-Parts archaeologist who has gone missing. Her dream is to become a famous treasure hunter (again, One Piece), and she befriends Jio in a move of sympathy disguised as his employment as a bodyguard.
So yes, the foundation and structure of O-Parts Hunter is completely derivative; but does that make it any less enjoyable? I would lean towards "no", but that answer will in the end depend on the reader. There will no doubt be those who find the events and conveniently tragic character backgrounds to be quite uninspired. However, those who know the formula and enjoy it will most likely find the quick pacing and Seishi's obvious love and enthusiasm to be quite palatable. I mean, how many of those long-running shounen titles out there will introduce a rival character out for revenge, engage both in battle, and resolve the plotline within not only the first volume, but one monthly-sized chapter!?! Seishi moves quick, but not recklessly. The fact the first volume does not get bogged down in long, overdrawn battles is a good sign of things to come.
While I hate to draw hard-lined comparisons between titles, it's almost impossible not to while reading this first volume of O-Parts Hunter. Seishi Kishimoto's world, characters, and plotlines riff directly off of other popular shounen franchises; including his older twin brother's international hit Naruto. There are frequent moments of déjà vu, which will no doubt turn off those who were hoping for something more unique.
On the other hand, you gotta hand it to Seishi Kishimoto for getting his start with a formula that works and doing it with gusto; as well as admitting that yes, he shares quite a few similarities with his twin brother Masashi. Their common influences and techniques are inevitable. However, that doesn't mean that Seishi is just going through the motions here. The enthusiasm and energy is obvious, with the quick pace something that is much more welcomed than the snail's pacing of his shounen cohorts.
If you love shounen manga, then you'll find a lot of enjoyment here. Outside of changing the horribly silly, original Japanese title, VIZ has left this potentially controversial title unmolested, with all the "666" and "Satan" references in place, as well as the small panel that includes nipples.
Mania Grade: B-
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Viz Media
Orientation: Right to Left