Cy-Believers Vol. #01 (Mania.com)

By:Danielle Van Gorder
Review Date: Friday, May 23, 2008
Release Date: Friday, February 15, 2008



Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Shioko Mizuki
Translated by:Keiko Bensen
Adapted by:Kai Connick

What They Say
Rui has just transferred to a new school, and hopes to make friends quickly. Unfortunately, it seems that most of the social groups around campus have been recently shut down - by the boy who just happens to be Rui's fiance! Still, determined to get around her controlling, selfish betrothed, Rui starts a new club that won't be so easy to shut down. Welcome to the Computer Believers!

The Review
Packaging:

Go Comi does a pretty good job with their releases overall, but this one doesn't seem to be up to their usual standards. The print quality is overall very good, with solid dark blacks, and excellent screentone reproduction, but some pages have lines that seem oddly faded and broken in places. I can't tell if that's due to the original material, or too-light printing, but with the way certain panels looked, the printing is most likely the culprit.

They're heavily playing up the connection to Crossroad on the cover as well - not just by mentioning the title, but by using the series logo on the back cover as well. It's an eye-catching way of attempting to reach the audience they've already built up for Crossroad.

Art:

Mizuki's art is willowy, almost delicate, and she seems to have a real love of interesting poses that impart more drama to each page than the subject matter might otherwise dictate. Backgrounds are really minimal, though, making it clear that the characters are what she really wants to be drawing. Her character designs (at least, for the major characters) are nicely distinct.

Text/SFX:

All sound effects are translated. Where possible, they're replaced with the English translation, but larger effects that cover portions of the artwork are subtitled. The translation didn't read as smoothly as I would have liked - several panels left me trying to interpret exactly what was going on. At the end of the volume is a page of translator's notes.

Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):

Meet Natori Nijo, head of the school Public Safety Commission and terror of school clubs - he shuts them down mercilessly at the slightest provocation. Nobody can stand in his way, including the student council. As Rui's fiance he's no less controlling - or creepy, and he's determined that Rui will have his babies...or else.

Then there's Rio Kisaragi, almost too beautiful to be real. Is he an uncontrollable flirt, or just a business man with an eye for opportunity? Or maybe he just wants to get his hands on all the sweet, delicate computers he can - he certainly seem to have more affection for them than normal, but the Computer Club has been shut down by Natori and the PSC. Maybe it's because he has more than a few computer traits himself?

Azumi Takano is the other remaining member of the computer club, and (with the one hundred and seven spirits that haunt him), the only person who Natori fears. Are these fears due to the spirits, or to the years of merciless torment that Azumi unthinkingly inflicted on him?

Rui just wanted to come to Tokyo to enjoy a normal high school life, but with these three in the picture, the chances of that seem slim. Not only that, but her dream of joining the school's famous PR club is dashed on her very first day when they ship her off to the Believers - the dregs of the club, who have no activities, no budget, and no real reason for existing. Rui isn't the passive sort, though, and certainly isn't going to stand by and accept this without a fight!

Comments
Is this a strange sort of romance? A zany situational comedy? Some sort of of dystopic condemnation of modern Japanese life? A parody of your typical high school manga? At the end of the first volume, I have no idea. The story goes off in so many different directions, adding and discarding and then picking up again plot threads like there's no tomorrow that I'm not entirely sure that even the author knows where this is going.

But - it's very funny. Rio's robotic nature and "hard shut down," the microwave club member, the psychotic student council president who looks like she's straight out of a Japanese horror flick, the vacuous members of the Believers who focus so completely on doing their side jobs, and even Rui's manic outbursts all combine to form a decidedly oddball comedy that leaves the reader guessing to the very last page.

This isn't going to be for everybody. Truthfully, I'm not sure exactly who it's for. The humor hit exactly the right random chord to work for me, but as with all humor that's going to be a very subjective thing. The characters are bizzare, the situations they end up in are bizzare, and the school itself is far from normal. Really, I need to pick up the next volume just so I have a clue as to where this is going to go.



Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Go! Comi
MSRP: 10.99
Pages: 200
ISBN: 978-1-933617-76-3
Size: B6
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: CY-Believers