Freak - Legend of the Nonblonds Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: C+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: ICE Kunion
  • MSRP: 10.95
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 89-527-4605-8
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Freak - Legend of the Nonblonds Vol. #01

By Jarred Pine     November 20, 2006
Release Date: August 01, 2006


Freak - Legend of the Nonblonds Vol.#01
© ICE Kunion


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Chung Yu / Dong-Eun Yi
Translated by:WonJae Huh
Adapted by:Jamie S. Rich

What They Say
Come and meet totally new bounty hunters who are nothing like anything you've ever seen before! Tublerun who could take away all your powers by simply putting his hand on your head, Verna who can hack into almost anything, Lorel, the hypnotist and the leader of this group called the "nonblondes". These guys will lead you to a world full of excitement and fun! There's nothing they won't do, and nothing they can't do! Come and join their fabulous adventure in this first book of the series.

The Review
Bounty hunters, thieves, cybernetics, superpowers, you've seen it all before in other manga and as expected all these are used together to create a story that is very high on action but pretty light on just about everything else. That said, it's still quite enjoyable for what it is.

Packaging:
The block-text logo won't impress anyone, but the artwork on the front cover is quite appealing with boys, swords, hot cars and girls all done with a nice coloring. Inside, the print reproduction could use a little work. The pages can be quite dark at times, as well as areas of moiré and fading. The alignment is a problem as well, to the point where text bubbles are cut off. The inclusion of the creators' after words as chapter inserts is a great extra for readers.

Art:
Chung Yu won't win a lot of points with originality, as the designs feel ripped right out of the most popular shounen manga, but he will score points for the enthusiasm and energy put into the artwork. Explosive action sequences, energetic panel compositions, and a good variety of character designs that should appeal to a broad audience. The action can get a little too busy at times, but it's fun to read nonetheless.

Text/SFX:
English script is well done, with the appropriate youthful attitude that does justice to the storyline. The SFX are translated with overlays without removing the original text. Sometimes the new SFX are overlayed, sometimes they are subbed next to the originals; but both methods create a bit of clutter.

Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
While reading Freak, it's immediately obvious that both writer and artist are fans of popular manga titles like Naruto, GetBackers, or other action oriented, hip and cool manga found in Shounen Jump or Shounen Magazine. Now, Dong-Eun Yi did state in his afterword that he gets upset when his story is compared to these manga, but I will say these comparisons are probably working in favor of this title rather than against it during these early stages.

In a futuristic city where corporate secrets are hunted like treasures of the Caribbean, pirates flock to these same corporations and other private clients to steal them. To protect themselves from these thieves, bounty hunters are hired to squash all intruders. Of course, in such a futuristic society there are gadgets and enhancements to make thieving or hunting easier; in this case it's Liquid Metal, which can be turned into any weapon formed from the user's brain patterns.

For the Nonblonds, a first-class crew of thieves, they will employ a variety of weapons and tools, including an all-enclosing LM suit named Cerebro that is a computer hacker's dream, to get what they want. They also have a few special abilities at their disposal, including hypnosis and ghosting another's abilities for a short period of time. The Nonblonds don't just take any case and they carry out their duty with a strict code. You get in and get what you were hired to do, nothing more and don't get too involved. But when they are hired to unknowingly steal an item from a powerful crime boss, they are blackmailed into stealing the greatest corporate treasure available--the brain of the doctor who invented LM.

Bounty hunters, thieves, cybernetics, superpowers, you've seen it all before in other manga and as expected all these are used together to create a story that is very high on action and pretty light on just about everything else. You could say that Dong-Eun Yi's best achievement with his debut title is that he was able to derive so many elements while keeping the story entertaining throughout. After the standard introductory chapters, an ongoing storyline develops that continues to build throughout the rest of the volume and leaves the reader thirsting for more with a nice tease for future events in volume two.

What will need to improve in future volumes are the characters themselves, who remain flat caricatures of every shounen archetype available. You got your standard brainless, gutsy hero with a big heart and appetite, the kid with glasses who seems to do nothing, and the tough girl who is a proxy for the other two's mother. A lot of recycling going on, but the enthusiasm and creators' love are definitely apparent; and that goes a long way with a debut volume.

Comments
If you've read enough manga, chances are you've read something that is quite similar to Freak. It is a derivative of manga of today's most popular shounen manga magazines, but I think the familiarity will actually be a benefit for a little unknown manwha from a small publisher. Readers of Naruto, GetBackers, or Black Cat will probably eat the Nonblonds up with a giant spoon, as the explosive action battles will easily entertain. Those who are seeking something with more originality will be best served elsewhere.

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