Junk Force (novel) Vol. #02 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B-

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Info:

  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: C
  • Text/Translatin Rating: D+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 7.99
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 1-59796-111-6
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Left to Right

Junk Force (novel) Vol. #02

By Mike Dungan     June 16, 2006
Release Date: July 11, 2005


Junk Force (novel) Vol.#02
© TOKYOPOP


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Hideki Kakinuma
Translated by:Gretchen Kern
Adapted by:

What They Say
The Junk Force saga continues, with more post-apocalyptic comedy adventures inspired by the manga. The hunt to shut down the mysterious and heavily-armored Z.P.T. organization is once again in full swing! This time out, the gang discover a rogue virtual reality program, harbor a fugitive of war, go up against a bizarre castle-dweller and more! Plus, what is this new emotion Wooty is feeling? And what's REALLY up with Louis and Liza? Follow the mismatched tank crew through their latest escapades!

The Review
The dystopian adventure-comedy manga is novelized once again, with some new stories thrown in.

Packaging:
The cover is a colorful image of Wooty sitting amongst a pile of weaponry with a blue sky as the backdrop. She's dressed as usual in her tank top, bandana worn as a bow, and her camouflage pants halfway down her hips. It would be even better if the logo hadn't been positioned to eliminate the panty shot her pose is creating. The back cover is almost entirely white, except for a great close-up of Wooty in full rant, with the novel synopsis underneath her in a surprisingly small font. I like the look of the design. I think the cover is especially attractive, except for the unfortunate placing of the logo.

Artwork:
As this is a novel, there is very little artwork, just the cover and a few splash pages here and there. The artist isn't credited, but it's clearly Yusuke Tsurugi, the artist of the manga. His style is much cleaner here than in the manga, probably owing to having more time to finish it. It's nice and lush, with a lot of screen tone and expressive faces.

Text/SFX:
Open the book, and the very first thing you see is "Translatot: Gretchen Kern." The rest of the book is also heavily riddled with typos, grammatical errors and typesetting mistakes. There is some small improvement over the first novel, but not nearly enough. The pictures of the characters in the front of the book have half the descriptions missing from Liza and Wooty. There's hardly a page in the book that doesn't have at least one mistake on it. As for the writing itself, the dialogue is stiff and unnatural for all the characters, but especially so for Mill. She's a young woman from a wealthy family, so she's supposed to speak in a more refined and educated manner than the others. To get this across, all contractions are eliminated from her speech. Instead of making her sound more educated, it just makes her sound like English is her second language. It's stilted and odd-sounding. The editing of novels from DrMaster and their predecessor, Comics One, has always been awful, and unfortunately, this is one more to add to the list.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the cute warrior android Mamet having joined the crew, the gang now begins its new mission of discovering the location of the Z.P.T. program so they can destroy it. Liza is 16 and the cool-headed leader. Louis is 14 and the mecha-maniac who is tasked with keeping their cast-off tank and weaponry working. Wooty is the unbelievably well-endowed 14-year-old gun-nut with a violent streak. And Mill is a 13-year-old daughter of a wealthy family with lethal cooking skills.

In the first story, the gang stops at a deserted town to investigate Z.P.T., the planet-scouring program that is out of control, destroying all life on Earth. What they find instead is a virtual reality program in an abandoned amusement park. With the many bugs in the program, and operating only on stored up solar power, Louis and Liza are stuck inside the program with time running out. If they don't complete the scenario before the power runs out, they'll be lost inside the system forever, and their bodies will die. The problem is that the scenario calls for them to make it to the chapel and kiss while the game does it's best to stop them.

In the next story, the crew finds two neighboring towns that are locked in war, run by an artificial intelligence program that keeps both forces in perfect balance, and has done so for the past 30 years. But a young man from one town, and a girl from the neighboring town just might have the courage to stop the program and free both towns, if Lisa, Louis a crew are able to help them.

Traveling again, the crew comes on an ancient walled town, with a castle in the middle of it. Inside is one lone man surrounded by several android maids. He gives them a place to stay for the night, but it quickly turns into a gothic horror story as everyone finds there's something in the basement that is far worse than anything they've encountered before.

During a battle, they find a young man from a local town who is trying to get to an abandoned military base nearby that could have a supply of military rations for the starving people back home. Liza and the rest decide to help him on his mission. Surprisingly, Wooty starts acting like a girl around him, which scares the rest of the crew worse than any enemy they've met before. They're pursued by member of Ahab, a vigilante group that are after the young man. Wooty protects him with her life, as the group pulls every trick in the book to keep the young man safe.
Later, the group manages to find something unbelievable. A lake surrounded by a forest in the middle of the desert. They are given a luke-warm reception by the mayor, and later learn that the town is paying protection money to local bandits to keep themselves safe. Learning about this, the gang decides to do something about it, but it may end up costing one of them their freedom.

In the final chapter, they arrive at a military scrapheap. It's their hope that they can find some salvageable parts, but they end up fighting a heavily armed and armored scrap machine that won't let them escape. An old man is discovered living there, and he's got a plan to defeat the machine, if they can only find the Dreadnaught tank buried in the debris and get it running again after 30 years.

Comments
Despite the atrocious editing, the story is entertaining. Some of Kakinuma's humor manages to seep through around the edges, and the stories are well-constructed. He's obviously been working on this story in some form or another for most of his adult life, and the mecha-fanservice is maxed out at 11. If the book was better edited, I'd have no problem recommending it, but as it is, I'd have to say "Buyer beware."

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

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1 
Shiroi Hane 12/8/2011 6:14:27 AM

This review is for the novel, however the cover art is for the manga.
Neither was released by Tokyopop - the manga was published by ComicsOne and the novels by DrMaster (as mentioned in the prose).

As a point of interest, the logo was repositioned over Wooty's crotch on the English cover; the original Japanese cover was a lot less discreet...

The art is actually by Eiji Komatsu, the original character designer. His art is quite makedly different to Tsurugi's and also pretty recognisable (I knew it was his at first glance and was the main reason I originally picked up this novel in fact)

 

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