Grenadier Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, August 09, 2006
Release Date: Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Translated by:Nan Rymer
What They Say
Rushuna is a golden-haired Senshi--a gunslinger who travels the land with one purpose: to make the world a peaceful place. However, her journey of nonviolence is never easy, and when she joins force with an ambitious samurai named, you better look out! Rushuna just might be forced to display her amazing gun skills--and she's got two big ones! ¨ ¨Keep the door closed and draw a hot bath--Kaise-sensei's exhilarating, action-packed manga, which sparked the popular anime, has arrived!
The publisher uses the original Japanese cover for this volume with just a few minor changes. The front cover is a picture of Rushuna wearing a skimpy yellow robe slit up to her waist and pointing her revolver downwards toward the reader. The yellow and red colors are appealing and mimicked well in the title. Now I usually don't like it when a publisher adds or takes away from the original artwork, but in this case Tokyopop added a blue sky with clouds behind Rushuna, which works well. However, they moved Rushuna down and placed the books' title across the top, which effectively cut off the bottom 25% of the original picture (Rushuna's legs and gun holster). I'm sure plenty of people might feel this is being too finicky, but this series has some nice covers so it just makes me cringe a little because of the way some publishers have treated cover art in the past.
The back cover is nicely done. Rushuna is firing her gun and she is colored in black and blue where the explosion from the barrel is solid white with the book synopsis written in this white space. The printing itself is nice and dark throughout, unfortunately the first few are printed in black and white, but appear to have originally been in color.
The quality of the artwork is a little inconsistent. On the upside, Rushuna is beautifully depicted throughout the book and a lot of her poses while she's firing her gun or dodging are really cool. The panel layout is heavily varied, the shading is well executed and a lot of the battle scenes are just plain cool. But on the downside, sometimes the fight scenes are so cluttered and overladen with speed lines that it can be distracting. My other complaint is the heavy amount of SD for comedy relief. This is an action series with a hot, ditzy, gun-toting blonde but it's a bit of a buzz kill to see her drawn in SD.
Additionally, although there is no full-frontal nudity in this volume, which is disappointing considering how many panels have nude women. But I was a little impressed that the artist was able to avoid drawing nipples for over 15 pages while Rushuna fights in the buff.
The text reads okay. There is only one spelling error and for the most part the dialogue reads fine but there are times when it seems awkward in certain places. Since I can't read the original Japanese I can't comment on whether the problem lies in the translation or the adaptation. As par for the course, the publisher didn't translate the Japanese SFX.
Contents: (Oh yes, there may be spoilers)
Rushuna Tendo is a buxom, gun-toting blonde traveling across Japan on her way home to some undisclosed location. Along the way she picks up a traveling companion named Yajiro. Yajiro is a young samurai and it's unclear why he is traveling with her, but considering Rushuna is hot, mysterious, a tough fighter, and an overall happy-going young girl, I can't say I wouldn't follow her like a puppy for a little while myself.
As Rushuna makes her way home it quickly becomes apparent that she's an ultra skilled marksmen. She can hit opponents at any distance, make unbelievable dodges against an enemies attack, and she can reload her revolver in the blink of an eye. Her first big battle is against the local king wearing his battle armor. His strange weapon is surprisingly powerful and Rushuna takes a pretty good beating during their first melee. The plot thickens a little when it's revealed there is another person manipulating the king like a marionette, and the death of someone Rushuna knows, bumps the maturity level of this title up a notch from that seen in the anime version.
There is a flashback to when Yajiro and Rushuna first met, but it doesn't do a very good job explaining the real reason behind Yajiro joining Rushuna. However, I was delighted to see Rushuna wearing a completely different costume and fighting with two handguns that appear to be much nicer models than the one revolver she is using in the current timeline. The story isn't very deep, but it's cool to see a gun-wielding female lead character in this particular time of Japan's history.
Grenadier takes place in Japan during the early proliferation of firearms. So a characters choice of weapon varies between traditional and sci-fi style guns, which I find pretty interesting because of the time frame. I personally enjoy reading various authors interpretations of the time frame when samurai were being replaced with undisciplined thugs/soldiers with firearms.
If you're familiar with the Grenadier anime then you know this story doesn't take itself seriously, it's just a fun read with a helping of fanservice. At this point the characters are rather two dimensional but I'm hoping future volumes will develop the characters better than the anime version. However, I really like the more mature direction this manga is taking. In the anime Rushuna never killed anyone and usually ended battles with a hug, but in the manga innocent bystanders get knocked off and Rushuna herself kills people left and right, and the carnage can get fairly graphic. Case in point, after killing a band of soldiers in this volume Rushuna says, "I'm Rushuna Tendo and I'm the one who killed you." So if the storyline continues with this darker theme and the characters develop some then I'll be satisfied with this action heavy series.
If you prefer your action stories free of humor and completely serious then this series isn't for you. But if you like the idea of a skimpily-clad lead female character who reloads her revolver by bouncing six bullets out of her cleavage and loading them into her gun in midair then you should check out this title.
Mania Grade: B-
Art Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
Orientation: Right to Left