Gunparade March Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C

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Info:

  • Art Rating: C+
  • Packaging Rating: N/A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: ADV Manga
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 216
  • ISBN: 1-4139-0035-6
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Gunparade March Vol. #01

By Jarred Pine     May 30, 2005
Release Date: October 01, 2004


Gunparade March Vol.#01
© ADV Manga


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Hiroyuki Sanadura
Translated by:Javier Lopez
Adapted by:

What They Say
The Japanese military’s numbers are dwindling, and the 5121st Anti-Tank Platoon has been organized to pick up the slack. Comprised entirely of teenagers, this platoon is facing the Phantom Beasts in a final stand against the invaders of Earth.

The Review

Packaging:
Since this an uncorrected galley proof, there will be no packaging grade.

Art:
The artwork here feels a bit weak and generic. The character designs are for the most part androgynous. I can point out the girls by their chests and random ass shots, but the faces seem to be copies of the same base design, featuring a mix of generic shonen and shojo line work. There are also a few instances where it looked like character artwork, specifically the heads, were recycled.

The backgrounds are bland and don’t stand out or give the reader any perspective. The action sequences are pretty flat also, featuring an overuse of action lines to create the fast paced effect, which doesn’t work to well in this case. I also found the Phantom Beast designs to be quite silly and stood out like a sore thumb.

Text/SFX:
SFX are translated and subbed next to the original text. I’ve never been a fan of this method, as I believe it creates panel clutter, which is the case here. The dialogue reads just fine, although for some reason I thought it was a bit stiff and emotionless when it needed some emotion. Of course, I have no idea if the original text was this way also. In the back of the book are translator notes, which is something I wish we’d see more of in translated manga.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
The depiction of war and the effects it has on the younger generation is something that has been explored ad nauseam in anime and manga. Usually these stories include mech, giant robots, and the young, military elite that pilot these advanced weaponry. With this first volume, Gunparade March attempts to put a spin on this familiar storyline by focusing more on the relationships that can occur with these teenage pilots during these harsh times. Is it possible to find love in a time of constant war?

The story begins with a bit of an alternate history lesson. World War II ended in 1945 when the Black Moon appeared and mankind was invaded by millions of Phantom Beasts, grotesque monsters that thrive on destroying humanity. Fifty years later, the battle rages on and the Earth has been ravaged by war and biological weapons. In order to combat these monsters, Japan has developed a strong defense perimeter as a last line of defense. They also have enacted a bill that allows the drafting of children between the ages of 14 and 17, who are sent to the front lines to train and go to war with the Phantom Beasts.

An interesting setup that is explained in a few pages, but for those expecting epic, war battles, this is the wrong story. There is only one small battle, along with a few mock training exercises, so the action is pretty light and not the focus of the story. Instead, the focus is on the teens of the 5121st Army Unit, specifically the shy, kind-hearted boy Atsushi Hayami and the quick to anger daughter of a power family, Mai Shibamura. Together these two pilot one of the Shikon units, mech used to fight against the monster invaders. As the training progresses, the young soldiers learn to work with each other, while Mai and Atsushi start to develop feelings for each other. The problem is both of them are having a little trouble expressing their feelings to each other.

The plot winds through pretty cliché story lines to set up all of its characters: team-building training exercises, Shikon maintenance, a real-life battle, and the relaxing time at the beach. The problem is that none of the characters really get flushed out, not even the two main characters which really weakens the moment these two finally hook up with each other. The background characters are pretty much non-existent, no memorable personalities to go along with our leads. The pace is pretty quick and feels a bit rushed. The story also has a lack of focus, going from action to comedy to romance at breakneck speed, and never really mastering anyone of them. For those interested, there are plenty ass shots, usually in extremely tight clothing, thrown in at random opportunities which I found distracting and caused my eyes to throb due to the constant rolling.

Comments
This first volume suffers from having its fingers in too many subgenres without mastering any of them. Action, comedy, romance, fanservice, all are present here in this story, but each one of them is not done very well. The pace feels rushed, the jokes barely muster a chuckle, the romance is pretty ho-hum, and the fanservice is random and not really attractive. The premise is interesting, relationships and love at the front lines of war, but it does not deliver nearly as well as I had hoped it would. Here’s hoping the final two volumes of this three volume releasing do something with this promising premise.

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