You Nitwit! Heroes Are Extinct!! Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Friday, August 31, 2007
Release Date: Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Translated by:Melanie Schoen
What They Say
Heroes (hee-rows) noun, plural, Earth variation: species of teenage Earthlings that come in groups of five, transform into "rangers" with color-coordinated outfits, and strike intimidating poses to ward off evil! General Cassiel has come from light years away with the intention of conquering Earth, and more importantly, meeting Earth's warriors in battle for a showdown of epic anime proportions! But what will he do when he discovers that no heroes have come out to meet him in battle? Will he claim an easy victory; or, do Earth's heroes just need a little help getting out the door?
Sent by the Bazue Empire to conquer Earth, the Grand General Cassiel should know what it means to be a hero. Or does he? A dreamer through and through, Cassiel insists that heroes must look cool, be able to cut skyscrapers in half, and defend values like honor and justice " a rather idealistic view, to say the least. Heroes are Extinct! Is at once a humorous parody full of heart and a personal drama about the nature of dreams and reality. After all, is it really about the capes, explosions, and fancy costumes... or the person underneath the mask?
Alien invaders have arrived at Earth with overwhelming force... much to the disgust of their commander, Great General Cassiel. Where's the glory of beating down a civilization that can't fight back? He's determined to have his showdown, even if he has to engineer the opposition himself. But can he keep his subordinates from conquering the planet before his plan is in motion? And how long can he keep up his double game?
This first volume comes in a larger-than-usual format, about the same dimensions as FMP or one of Dark Horse's old releases. The dust jacket has a very clean, but somewhat boring, head shot of the main character, General Cassiel, sporting a smirk and his eyepatch, with the kanji of the original Japanese title in the background. The back cover has a full-body shot of him from the rear.
I'm not totally in love with the title treatment " "You Nitwit", "Heroes Are", and "Extinct" get three different fonts, and double exclamation points don't do much for me either.
It's almost too bad, because it's obvious a good deal of care went into the design, there's certainly nothing WRONG with it, and it's of high quality. It's just not dynamic at all. I wouldn't have picked this book up out of a pile based on the cover, which would have been a shame, as good as it is.
Inside the front leaf of the dust jacket is a nice little poster shot of the three main characters. (Maybe this would have made a better cover picture? Come on, there's a barely-dressed girl on there, sell that stuff!) The rear leaf has a Digital Manga logo.
The rear cover inside the dust jacket is covered with some comic sketches (most of which won't make any sense until you've read the volume... and a couple of which still won't). But the real treat is inside the front cover, where we get a big (if monochrome) drawing of the Earth Force Terra Rangers, complete with a translated theme song! Now you too can sing along.
I have to ding the book here on the grounds of simplicity. A great deal of the first volume takes place on an alien starship, but... the backgrounds are almost completely empty. Lots of curved hallways with windows to space, rooms with nothing inside but a table and chairs... very rarely do I get a feel that I'm looking at something alien or futuristic. (Could this be yet another subtle parody of alien ships in the shows that this manga is parodying? Or is it just a lack of imagination on the part of the artist?) At any rate, the on-Earth scenes look fine, if still not particularly inspired.
Character designs definitely deserve a mention here. I like two out of three of the alien generals' character designs " Cassiel looks menacing in a clean-cut way, and Aster's empty-headed bishounen look works for him. The third I'm not so fond of " Princess Velvet looks like a young teenager in an exotic dancer's costume that she can't fill out. Put some pants on! It's one of the few examples I can think of where a woman is both dressed extremely immodestly, yet in a way that's not sexual at all. (Or possibly I'm just into women with hips?)
The alien minions are great because of their simplicity " their uniform has masks that are, literally, bags over their heads. Human characters come off more-or-less realistic-looking " we don't really get to know them individually yet, and they have a case of "wearing the same thing every day" syndrome so far.
Overall, it's not that great-looking. Again, there's nothing wrong with it, and the parts that reflect directly on the parody aspects are done well " nothing wrong with the Terra Rangers' costume design, for example. The rest of it's just kind of there, though, an almost minimalist effort.
No problems with the translation here. Dialogue flows well, very few cases where the translator is forced into awkward wording. Cassiel's lines go from introspective to full-on cheesy with good effect. Only complaint is that the font chosen for some of the "aside" comments is pretty thin and not that easy to read, though the ordinary text font is excellent and easily legible.
The production quality is quite good. Completely saturated, rich blacks. Everything's lined up properly. Binding looks a little weird but seems to be quite secure. The paper quality is all right, though not the best I've seen lately. There weren't any parts of enjoying this where an error in the production took me out of the enjoyment of the story.
The extras are also fairly nice " a two-page poster preview, a couple of pages of original character sketches, and a few pages of "atogaki"... a short strip by the author, a credits page, a four-panel comic by one of the assistants, a quick cheesecake sketch of Velvet. A few pages of ads from DMP finish the volume off.
I'm happy with the adaptation so far. Not inspired, but good quality and error-free work that doesn't get in the way or bother me.
General Cassiel arrives with an armada of invaders from Bazue and defeats Earth's opposition in a matter of hours... but then withdraws in disgust when he discovers that Earth is essentially unprotected and that the heroes he imagined defeating never existed in the first place. In despair, he decides that Earth's only hope for resistance (and his only hope for martial glory, in overcoming that resistance) is in the creation of a new group of heroes, the Terra Rangers... and since the heroes aren't showing up on their own, it's up to him to do it!
The first volume is straight-up genre parody. Ha ha, here's Cassiel at the convenience story. Ha ha, here's him in civvies standing on top of a newspaper machine. Ha ha, he's kidnapped random people to be heroes. And so on, and so on... It'd get tedious fast if we didn't have the goofy General Aster and cynical Princess Velvet (and the alien hoi polloi, who all seem to be fanboys of their superiors) to mix up the mood somewhat.
The story starts to click when our random heroes move beyond "oh god, who is this strange person and why is he making us practice our pose?!" and start getting into the hero mentality themselves. There's a few jokes that won't make sense if you're not a fan of the genre (yes, okay, you're glad that you turned out to be Terra Green, but what is that saying about you exactly?), but overall most of it seemed to work pretty well.
If you're a huge fan of the Power Rangers and catch every new season of the show, this book will make you mad. If you're like the rest of us and recognize just how corny the old sentai shows are, you'll find it hilarious. Definitely worth reading if you're in the mood for poking a little fun at the genre.
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: B-
Packaging Rating: A-
Text/Translatin Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
Orientation: Right to Left
Series: You Nitwit! Heroes Are Extinct!!