Empty Empire Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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Mania Grade: C-

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  • Art Rating: C
  • Packaging Rating: C
  • Text/Translatin Rating: C-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: CMX
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 1-4012-1121-6
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Empty Empire

Empty Empire Vol. #01

By Brian Henson     September 06, 2007
Release Date: August 28, 2006

Empty Empire Vol.#01

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Naoe Kita
Translated by:Tim Rogers
Adapted by:Tim Rogers

What They Say
A boy with no memory finds himself on the run. Rescued by a girl who is a guardian of the imperial palace, he is named "Rose" due to the mysterious, flower-shaped scar on his forehead. Rose bears a striking resemblance to the recently departed, beloved emperor and may in fact be his clone! One faction wants the reluctant Rose to assume the mantle of leadership; another wants to put their own clone on the throne instead...and eliminate Rose in the process.

The Review
The clone of a dead emperor must come to terms with his own existence and taking the place of his predecessor,.... or does he? Maybe all we really want is a setting for goofy hijinks.

Our main character graces the cover of volume one (because let's face it, the main character is supposed to be on the front cover of volume one), although covered in the cloak pulled over the face with only the eyes really showing... we just kinda have to assume it's the main character. The implied mystery of the cover doesn't really set too well with a title that should be selling it's humor as it's strongest point though. The back cover does give us a picture with some personality. A decent shot of the main character, Rose, sticking his tongue out. On the inside, the print quality of the volume is consistent, but the paper quality is not what most fans are going to be used to in their manga. The volume isn't flimsy, but it is of a lower production value than your average manga these days.

Naoe Kita's artwork style on this had me immediately thinking back to the late 80s when I really got into manga and anime, not too surprising since the original work began serialization in the early 90s. While I rather like Kita's art style with the characters, there is a frequent lack of background artwork and wide shots. Frequent use of close head shots, abstract backgrounds, speed lines, and just plain white space detracts from the volume due to overuse. The occasional insert of furniture, a standard contemporary street fade into the horizon, or a random castle angle is not adequate to create the impression of a full world that the characters inhabit, particularly one 500 years in the future.

The dialog is easy to read and not cluttered in the text boxes, which is always a good thing. At least I don't need to squint or get a magnifying glass to know what Rose just said to Ririka. On the down side though, the sound effects in the volume are inconsistently done. Some of the original Japanese sound effects have been left intact with translations added, while other sound effects have been replaced entirely with English equivalents. I prefer my Japanese effects intact, but I'd rather them all be changed to English than just a random portion of them. Consistency goes a long way in these kinds of things.

Contents: (warning, this section may include spoilers)
He has no memory of who he is, chased by people trying to kill him, shot in the head, and the story has just started. You have to give points to a manga that shoots it's main character in the head on the third page.

Discovered on the street by Ririka the "Beast Tamer" who takes our amnesiac hero to Eiri, a genius who is being consulted by the government on a proposed plan to clone the former emperor to make a replacement. Given the name 'Rose' because of the flower-like scar on his forehead, Rose stays with Eiri as he tries to determine who he is and where he came from. However, this doesn't take very long as Eiri recognizes Rose as being identical to the dead Emperor Idea and quickly deducing that the government went ahead with its plan to clone a new "Idea" even though he wouldn't have the memories that made the former emperor the great man that he was.

Now Rose has to dodge the assassins the government sent to erase their failed project. For a short while anyway. In a quick turnaround, the body of Idea has been stolen and now Rose is their only plan to restore order to the empire. Now, they're determined to turn Rose into the new Emperor Idea whether Rose likes the idea or not. Then a set of religious fanatics make an attempt on Rose's life because it's a sin that an attempt to recreate the dead Emperor Idea was made.

Then the late Emperor Idea's body is stolen a second time and Rose has to track down the infamous thief Kid who was caught once before by the original Emperor Idea. If the body of Idea is sold off, another faction could make their own clone and program it however they wanted. Plus, it looks like Kid wants a rematch with Idea, even if it is with Rose filling in as Idea's clone.

You may be thinking to yourself now,.... whoa, all that in the first volume. Yeah, all that in the first volume. That actually reveals the largest problem with The Empty Empire. All the elements you would expect of the story are there, but that's it. The story plays out without any surprises or real uniqueness. Each story development happens because it's just what's supposed to happen next in this kind of story. Most of the story feels contrived and the resolutions depend heavily on the reader just accepting this is the way things are supposed to work out as opposed to it being the natural result of the character's personality or choices.

Most of the characters are flat representations of their nitch in the story. The 'rival' scientist Dust that did the actual cloning of Rose that the genius scientist Eiri recommended against barely makes an impact. The butler of the former Emperor Idea who betrays the fake clone of Idea, Rose, only to later save him and then to go on to serve Rose as the successor to Idea is a completely predictable turn of events. Even the last major confrontation of the volume with Kid ends exactly as you expect, with Kid actually having looked up to Idea and becoming chummy with Rose in the end.

Very little time is devoted to making the build up to or the climax of events believable or convincing. The characters themselves get little time to do more than play to their stereotypes. The strongest thing that The Empty Empire has going for it is a decent dose of comedic value, although even some of the humor is fairly predictable as well. If the title devoted more time to actually developing the characters and the comedic interplay between them, it would be an improvement. However, The Empty Empire is a fairly standard formula with no real uniqueness to give the title its own identity.


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