Bus Gamer 1999-2001: The Pilot Edition Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, October 03, 2006
Release Date: Friday, September 01, 2006
Translated by:Alethea Nibley
Adapted by:Nathan Johnson
What They Say
Toki Mishiba, Nobuto Nakajyo, and Kazuo Saitoh are hired to play the Biz Game; a game much like capture the flag, only with company secrets and insane amounts of money involved. At first they think it's a crazy-but-fun way to get some money, but as the game goes on, they hear stories about mysterious deaths on the news, and recognize the victims as members of the teams they've beaten in the game. When one of the losers of a game dies right in front of them, they realize what is really at stake: their very lives!
An interesting premise that was abandoned and never finished, making this an incomplete manga with no completion in sight. My advice, wait for TOKYOPOP's upcoming release of Wild Adapter
I really dig the stylish front cover, which looks even better on the matte finish. The print reproduction is well done for the most part, although it can get a little dark at times. Chapter inserts with character information and artwork are present, but no color printing was used for the inserts with character artwork. A bit of a shame too, as I think that would have been the one selling point with this title as a treat for Minekura fans.
While I still find Minekura's artwork to be an acquired taste, so very unique yet utterly awkward at the same time, she doesn't seem to be firing on all cylinders here. The action sequences are vibrant and well sequenced, but the backgrounds are very bland or non-existent. Most panels are actually headshots with white backgrounds. The final chapter is illustrated quite nicely to go with the unfolding action, but it's a shame we'll never see any more of the progression.
SFX are partially translated with no rhyme or reason as to why some were left with no accompanying subs. The English script is littered with f-bombs and other profanities to the point of excess. There are also quite a few eye-raising colloquialisms ("busting a solo on my meat flute"). The currency was also translated into dollars instead of leaving the yen.
Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
In the world of television, a "pilot" is defined as a prototype for a larger feature that is produced to gauge both network and audience interest. A pilot could be called successful if it turns into a series and gets network adoption. Despite the subtitle, Bus Gamer 199-2001 isn't as much a pilot as it is a victim of publishing circumstances. First put on hiatus when the original seasonal magazine from Enix was cancelled, the title was then revived only to be put on hiatus a second time--where it now still resides. Creator Kazuya Minekura, of Saiyuki fame, call this release a prologue for something she would like to return to someday soon, but ultimately this is more an abandoned idea that ends in a most frustrating spot with no future story in sight.
What immediately piqued my interest enough to pick up this one-shot was the dark and unique premise: a trio of loners caught up in a deadly game of corporate espionage and takeovers. When the moneymakers begin to grow bored and weary of trading stocks and standard corporate ventures, they decide to use their power and money to hire teams of "gamers" to compete for their representative companies in a deadly game of steal the company's data disk. Who competes in these competitions? The desperate and needy are taken advantage of and turned into pawns on the corporate chessboard.
Quite the interesting premise for a manga, no? It's just too bad that we will never see these ideas come to fruition. Kazuya Minekura is known for creating stories which feature bishounen manly-men who discuss their feelings and need for each other quite openly; and her trademark is is true form here. Unfortunately, the melodramatic dialogue bogs down a story which is already has limited time to take off. And while there are hints are tragic character beginnings and background stories, it's all for naught. Just as the action begins to kick up with twists and turns starting to develop, the book just stops. There's nothing more, that's it. Game over man.
I should've known something was awry when I surprisingly found Bus Gamer sitting on my local comic book shop's shelves. Where did this title come from? This is THE creator of TOKYOPOP's successful Saiyuki series, right? One would think it would have been advertised quite aggressively, but at the time of this review the title is even absent from TOKYOPOP's website.
It's because this is an incomplete manga, with no revival in sight. What we are given is an interesting premise, but an empty execution. Kazuya Minekura's "follow your nose" style of storytelling makes this even more of a frustrating experience, as there is too much time wasted on melodramatic manly bishie hugging. The time spent male bonding might have paid off, but that's something I'll never be able to find out unless Minekura decides to pick this off the hiatus heap. My advice, wait for TOKYOPOP's upcoming release of Wild Adapter.
Mania Grade: C-
Art Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: C-
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: TOKYOPOP
Orientation: Right to Left