Imperfect * Hero (aka: Akaten * Hero) Vol. #03 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: DrMaster
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 206
  • ISBN: 1-59796-094-2
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Imperfect * Hero (aka: Akaten * Hero) Vol. #03

By Eduardo M. Chavez     February 05, 2006
Release Date: January 01, 2006


Imperfect * Hero (aka: Akaten * Hero) Vol.#03
© DrMaster


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Nankin Gureko
Translated by:Carolyn Johnson
Adapted by:

What They Say
Life hasn't been all too easy for Yuji Midorikawa, Gakusei Five's G-Green, ever since Madame Mayura of the Gurdark came to live with him. However, things just start getting worse when the Dark General Zaros comes to the surface to reclaim his fiancée Madame Mayura? When Mayura refuses to return with Master Zaros, Earth is suddenly in danger and Yuji becomes desperate. He swears to return Mayura's horn back to normal but the only way that can happen is for Mayura to fall in love with someone. But does Yuji want the fierce and sadistic Madame Mayura to return?

The Review
Packaging:
From start to finish Imperfect Hero is a fine example of DrMaster trying it to be consistently good. First, I love the size. B6 height is perfect; it fits very nicely in my hands and looks good with my tankoubon on my shelf. These are slightly wider than tankoubon but I feel that help correct some of the alignment issues some NA manga have especially when manga is tightly bound. Next, DrMaster is using the Japanese cover art. This cover features the two versions of Mayura - Madame Queen Mayura and Yuji's girlfriend Mayura. The piece is full of pinks and grays but it stand out well from the white background. The opposite cover has a small volume blurb and an image of super-deformed Yuji and Mayura, each wearing their respective battle costumes. The logo is designed in a font similar to the Japanese version as well.

Inside the printing is not bad. When comparing it to the December releases, this looks great. However, upon close inspection, there are a few alignment issues and the small size really made the busy panels look extremely cramped. I liked the paper quality. Good weight, nice feel and ink does not bleed through much.

DrMaster provides a character intro and a synopsis of the previous volumes at the start of the GN. Followed by the original chapter headers, an ato-gaki called “Afterword Hero” and a thank you page. DrMaster also included two pages dedicated to honorifics (even though they are not used in this series).

Artwork:
Nankin's art is difficult to describe. I guess the best way to put it is fun. Characters tend to be caricatures - fat, pimply, big lipped character, long, thin character with medium-long hair, cute, petite, sparkly eyed character, alien with boom-boom body and horn - of manga stereotypes.

They are drawn with relatively thin lines, but are void of much detail. Instead the characters look cute and relatively simple, which is a staple of josei manga (Nankin has a background in that field). Costumes are not very fancy. They are also parodies of costumes from the Power Rangers and the like. They do not seem to be light or functional, but that is a part of the joke, I guess. Nankin also tends to use a lot of SD. The transitions are very good, but there are some characters that tend to be in SD practically all the time (i.e. the monsters of the week).

Backgrounds are interesting. Sometimes Nankin uses scanned photographs and then there are drawn in backgrounds. The ones she draws in are stale and completely lacking in creativity. I guess with all that is going on with the action and the crazy layout this is to be expected. Speaking of the layout, it is very active. It plays a big part in the pacing and direction of the manga. It is so active characters occasionally even interact with it.

SFX/Text:
Better late than never right?! After two volumes of shoddy spelling and monstrous grammar, DrMaster finally got everything right. Gone are the misspelled artist names. The errors on the volume descriptions have are splits-ville! And the insides read fine as well. DrMaster already was able to distinguish the personalities in their translation. Now people can get those characteristics without having to wonder if the cast have speech impediments.

SFX are translated with subs. I wish they could have used a smaller font in this series as Nankin's art is rather busy. These subs are taking up a bit of space in some of the more active panels.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With Madam Mayura recovering from her horn accident, the Gurdark's frustrations have reached boiling point leading them to implement plans to finally invade the surface. The Gurdark will are about to rise from their underground lairs bring with them the darkness they thrive in to the surface.

Lead by their Dark General Zaros, the Gurdark take to the streets looting and creating havoc in search for resources. Initial phases of a long-term campaign have them stocking up their caches of food and clothing - because Mayura is not around to help with that. Subsequencial rounds will consist of fully mobilized search squads on missions to "rescue" their wonderful Queen. Strategically placed attacks will facilitate the suppression of the populous. Darkness will then fill the minds of humankind, rendering them hopeless before the powerful invaders. Then a miasma will cover towns as dark mushrooms begin to germinate across the land (feeding on flora and fauna). The hearts of nubile women will succumb to the charms of the masked enemy. Altogether, the full force of the Girder will lead to the end of humanity, as we know it.

A nation without its leader has no purpose for has lost its direction. Generals and officers can provide so much to the Gurdark masses, but they do not provide the calming support, inspirational love and home-style cooking that can only be found from the source of darkness herself. Nothing will stop the Gurdark from moving forward now.

Overcoming the strength of the Gurdark might be too much for the Gakusei 5. Their technology and wide information network should help them overcome the odds, but humanity needs are the intangibles that can quickly change the course of this war. They have to study their enemy; learn their secrets and their goals for battle. Maybe strategy is not the way to defeat the Gurdark. Some might under-estimate compromise and what a peace process could bring to both sides. They might even decide to use the often forgotten power of love. Manga always seems be able to mix that in at the right time.

With final battle forthcoming, Yuji, Mayura and Momoyama will have to risk their lives for what they believe is right. However, the real battle will not be over the Earth or Japan, but over one masked man's heart!

Comments
What do sentai action movies and teen romances have in common?

Not much.


Nevertheless, the two genres come together in Nankin Gureko’s Imperfect Hero with good humor to create an original style of drama that can be appreciated by readers across all lines. What Nankin does in this story is take the focus away from the cliché but popular genre of sentai by completely redefining the fundamentals that the genre is famous for. She replaces those themes with drama and romance, making the weakest link the bumbling hero in the end.

When sentai stories focus on the battle team and teamwork, Nankin consistently looks at the individuals of this story instead. Moreover, Nankin often has the members of the Gakusei Five fighting amongst themselves, as their strong individual characteristics often tend to pit their personalities against each other over a number of different reasons. The focus on the individual even carries over to the other end of the cast. Under normal circumstances, the enemy’s lack of cohesiveness is what brings them down. Nankin completely turns that around, as the Gurdark are entirely dependent on the success of their strong leaders. The Gurdark are a mess from the beginning, so once they begin to break into factions their lack of control opened up the possibility for increased mayhem from any number of directions.

Eventually, as the story began to move towards its conclusion the sentai theme was turned on its edge and a new theme began to dominate. Nankin slowly began developing the concept of creating a romance manga from pretty early on in this title. We already knew there was a connection between Midorigawa and Momoyama, there usually is one of those in battalion teams. Nankin cements the romance element by quickly beginning to slide in another angle in the form of the Gurdark’s Queen Mayura.

On the surface, while utterly comical considering the type of personality Midorigawa has, this was practically inevitable. As Nankin describes in her afterword, Midorigawa is and always was green. Green meaning natural and innocent was the perfect combination of kindness and naivety that could only pull this off. Midorikawa’s strength and resilience is what caught Momoyama’s eye. He was always there for his friends whenever they were in need. Moreover, whenever, he was needed, his talents were quite often the difference in the most critical situations. His lack of selfishness stole Mayura’s heart. He showed her that she could be herself and still be liked. He was also the only person in this story able to be responsible for his actions. Therefore, even though he is weak and made fun of, he in the end was stronger in one important way in the eyes of those closest to him.

When looking back at Imperfect Hero a number of different points come to mind. I loved how Nankin was able to consistently parody the sentai genre and how ridiculously simple has become over the years. By mixing up the roles and changing the perspective of what the genre is capable of, I felt excited again over the typically repetitive concept. I also enjoyed how she kept a very casual attitude around the relationships as they were building. Nankin shows how close the three main characters have become and how hard it is to make an open decision under these circumstances (especially for a dweeb like Midorigawa). I also appreciate that she understood, that her cast has not had enough time to completely change. Mayura is still sadistic, self-centered and immature. Momoyama is still a bit shy, jealous and dependant. And Midorigawa is still indecisive and very very green to the end. They have changed a bit. Nankin had them make some tough decisions along the way, but Nankin made sure that these were only the start for them.

Imperfect Hero was never perfect, but it never claimed to be. It is a fun twist on a genre that needed it the most and brought back memories of alien romances of old. Very fun.

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