Doors of Chaos Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B

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Info:

  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: All
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: N/A
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Doors of Chaos Vol. #01

Blood and gore abounds

By Ron Quezon     September 03, 2009
Release Date: January 24, 2008


Doors of Chaos
© TOKYOPOP

Just as Mizeria is about to have her coming of age ceremony, fate comes crashing through doors of her world.  Whether she believes it or not, the key to saving her twin sister Clarissa and their world is Mizeria herself.

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist: Ryoko Mitsuki
Translated by: N/A
Adapted by: N/A

What They Say
When all the doors open, the world will slip into chaos... Only the twins Clalisa (open) and Mizeria (close) control the Four Doors that protect the world from descending into chaos. When Rihitel, their guardian, kidnaps Clalisa, he weakens the Door of Chaos and demons begin to pour through, threatening to destroy the entire kingdom. Will Mizeria find her sister in time to close the door and restore order to the world? The premier global release from Japanese manga-ka Ryoko Mitsuki is a Gothic tour de force that travels beyond space and time to worlds you've never dreamt possible.

The Review
Packaging:

The color front cover has both Mizeria and her sister Clarissa in flowery dresses above the Doors of Chaos title (in gold lettering).  In the lower right is Rikhter, and in the opposite corner upper left is the White Guardian.  Upper right is one of the mystical doors, next to a black strip with the TOKYOPOP logo in gold. 

The spine and back cover are relatively simple.  The spine is black with gold lettering for the title and a red TOKYOPOP logo.  The back cover is brown with the title and summary in gold lettering.  On the bottom of the back cover are the older teen rating, fantasy category, and ISBN in the lower right.  In gold is TOKYOPOP’s “Leading the Manga Revolution” stamp just below the summary.

Personally, I think the front cover is a bit cluttered, and TOKYOPOP could have spread the images to both the front and back cover.  The binding could be taken up a notch, and some of the printing isn’t as crisp, especially in the darker panels.  Extras include a table of contents, splash pages, postscript, a thank you from the author, and a small preview for the next volume.

Artwork:

The manga employs highly detailed and fine-lined artwork with a strong Gothic theme.  Characters have exaggerated eye sizes communicate emotional changes, but otherwise have subdued facial expression in the mouths or noses.  Additionally, the author uses a lot of hand gestures to emphasize character reactions, hand covering the mouth for surprise, etc.

The background is set in what looks like 16th or 17th century Europe.  The background elements, such as horses, carriages, castles, are kept to a minimum.  However, the costumes are elaborate and ornate with lots of frills on the dress and many of the men are in military/ royal garb with long shelves and capes.

The nocturnal characters are particularly haunting, as most of them have highly detailed, ghastly images and evil smiles.  The character design of some Discordants remind me of Homulculus from Full Metal Alchemist, by Hiromu Arakawa, with disturbing images screaming bodies, protruding bone fragments, or impaled heads and torsos. 

Text/Translation:

As with most of their titles, TOKYOPOP translated the text bubbles and signs, but most sound effects and action wording are not translated.  The flow of the manga is right to left, and for the most part the English word placements are easy to follow.  Where sound effects are translated, they are placed as small translations close to the original Japanese words.  Additionally, there are incantations that both Mizeria and Clarissa use (as well as the Discordants) that show up in special, calligraphy-like font so you can tell that the words themselves are not supposed to make sense.  My only complaint is that some of the placement of the words is artistically impressive (woven into the backdrop, or into Mizeria’s clothing) but not very practical for reading.

The text is fairly easy to read for a teen/ older teen audience.  This may be an alternate universe set in what looks like older Europe, but the language and tempo fits for the characters. 

Content:

Mizeria and Clarissa have lived their entire lives in the Locked Garden of the Druaddle Kingdom’s Royal Palace.  The teenage twin girls have really only known each other and their handsome guardian and teacher Rikhter.  They also know that they are destined to become magic users called Harmonizers in this fantasy world.  Their Coming of Age Ceremony comes on their 16th birthday and starts off well enough, but soon Mizeria realizes something has gone terribly wrong…  The Rhythm Bell rings and one of the four doors separating the diurnal and the nocturnal worlds opens!  Dark servants of the nocturnal world pour through and quickly overwhelm the people of the palace.  Even more shocking is that Clarissa is being kidnapped- by Rikhter himself ?! 

Why would Rikhter kidnap one of them, and whose side is he on?  Who is the White Guardian and why does he refer to Mizeria as the “Living Key”?  How will Mizeria be reunited with her sister Clarissa?

In Summary:

If you are a fan of fantasy-shojo manga or Gothic theme manga, or both, Doors of Chaos is worth picking up for your reading list.  I found the story to be quickly engaging, with a fantasy world complete with royalty, magic users, and the ageless battle of light and dark. The characters are complex, with issues and quirks that make you smile and sometimes cringe.  The reluctant protagonist, Mizeria, draws you in as you see her force herself out of her shell.  Not only is her concern for her sister genuine, but you feel for her frustration when argues with the White Guardian.  It doesn’t help that there are forces well beyond her control at work here.

Mizeria is not called a “key” for nothing.  There is an overarching story going on as well that is just as intriguing.  Just as there are Harmonizers who restore physically broken elements of the world, there are Discordants who disrupt energy levels and generally destroy things.  Of course, you have to guess whose side each one is really on.  How the magic works reminds me a lot of Full Metal Alchemist, by Hiromu Arakawa.  That is, Harmonizers and Discordants manipulate energy much like alchemists do in FMA.  On top of all that, this mystical world looks like a version of 16th or 17th century Europe, with a strong Gothic theme mixed in.  Although I am not so much into the heavy eye shadow, if you are into frilly European dresses and formal men’s uniform collars, you’re in for a treat.

Doors of Chaos is rated OT for older teen, and I agree with this rating.  There is a considerable amount of blood and gore which may be inappropriate for younger readers.  There are also some scenes with borderline nudity and adult themes that would not be recommended for younger readers as well.

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