Junk Force Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 15 & Up
  • Released By: DrMaster
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 1-58899-366-3
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Junk Force Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     December 24, 2004
Release Date: January 01, 2004

Junk Force Vol.#01
© DrMaster

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist: Kakinuma Hideki (DARTS) / Tsurugi Yusuke (Mechanical Design: Matsukawa Kenichi; Character Design: Komato Eiji)
Translated by:Toshi Hosaka
Adapted by:

What They Say
It's 2100 and the earth is an ecological wasteland. The governmental organization known as the Z.P.T. has a plan to purify the planet, but it fails tragically. Was the disaster that follows Z.P.T.'s intention all along? In this post-apocalyptic future, the buxom young women -Liza, Wooty, and Mill and one fortunate young man - Louis, use there mechanical prowess to fend off waves of the government's state-of-the-art military forces in an attempt to save the world!

The Review
ComicsOne reworked the original cover art by slightly enlarging the image of Liza and changing the background she is on. It looks good and C1's cover actually has a sci-fi feel that the original was missing but what it doesn't have is an image of a Dreadnaught (beautifully designed by Matsukawa Kenichi) on the back. Logo Check!! (2003 Megs)... the original logo is used here, retaining everything including the series subtitle "Leave the planet and don't look back!" Inside ComicsOne crammed the color foldout on to a two-page spread in black and white. I was really pleased to see they presented both sides of the foldout but because of the size differential there is a little bit of art lost from the top and bottom of each piece.

C1 keeps all of the original mecha data files that are full of specs for all sorts of machines featured in this volume nicely translated with specs in metric measurements. Nice! The printing is not great. While the colored pages that are now in monochrome are great, the rest of the GN is a few shades too dark. For fan-service fans, this could be nightmare as camel toes blur into the screen tone around them!! Shame!

This volume also features ads for: My Sassy Girl, NOW, Iron Wok Jan! and Crayon Shin-chan.

Character designs by Komato Eiji are very cute and Tsurugi Yusuke does them justice by keeping them shapely and keeping the costumes tiny. Female characters are well endowed and they all have a unique look to them. Seeing Wooty in her bathing suit while wearing oversized camoflauge print pants is a stark contrast to the dainty dresses that Mill wears. Bad guys have a good mix of freakish cyborg-olf and techno-slob. Nice! Matsukawa's mechanical designs are functional and etchi (piloting positions are noted in detail in the mecha files). The detail on most the mechs are few levels above that of the character designs. Unfortunately, the below average printing takes away from some of that nice art.

Backgrounds are often sterile which is a shame. Ken-sensei usually presents a creative looking town or landmark but usually does not carry that throughout the rest of the chapter's panels. The layout and the action scenes often make up for the dull backgrounds with nice panel progression and good use of perspective.

Fan service is pretty high. There are a few pages of frontal nudity in this volume but after a while areole are covered with soap bubbles or not drawn in at all. Shucks!

ComicsOne is still one of the best in the business in regards to how they deal with SFX. They have tastefully translated SFX close to the original SFX. By using small subs they do not compromise Tsurugi’s art.

Hosaka's translation is pretty good. While I have to say there are few situations where the context is a little off there were only a few moments where things were completely off. A few grammatical errors are here and there but it's better than some of C1's earlier productions.

One thing I did notice though was that they have the wrong reading for the mangaka's family name. It is actually read Tsurugi not Ken. Not a good first impression if you ask me.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the Earth's population reaching 10 billion the exhaustion of natural resources would bring humanity to another world war. Earth had split into two factions: the Earth Regeneration and Mars Pioneer ideologies. While one group resolved to use the existing resources to help restore nature, the other wished to leave Earth behind taking the remaining resources to colonize Mars. The war lasted four years and in the end, the Mars Pioneer faction succeeded with their plan leaving the Earth to a mechanized system called the ZPT amongst the remaining Earth Regeneration followers. This ZPT is an automated system that could purify the now desert planet of those substances that prevent the growth of nature. Unfortunately, after thirty years, the people on Earth were still struggling and the ZPT began to purify what the system considered the planets biggest problem - humanity.

We meet a small group of survivors in this wasteland as they struggle to live amongst the pollution and the reckless cleansing of the ZPT machines. Mill, Liza, Wooty and Louis by scavenging and recycling are on a mission to stop the ZPT and give humanity another chance on Earth. They have been at it for a little while and even though the pickings are slim, they are making do with their three tanks and multi-purpose trailer.

Recently the large regeneration cities that were created after the war have dwindled. Resources have become so scarce that those looking have to take the ZPT head on. Even then, scavengers never know if their homes will be there when they come back. However, unknown to the Earth Regeneration faction the Mars Pioneers have been sending androids to investigate the current status of the Earth. Right now, no one really knows for what purpose, but they have found out that these humanlike-droids are powered by a powerful bioreactor that could be key to something big in the future.

Fate brought Louis together with one of these androids in a small crater city and from that point on there were now five members of this team. With this new partner, they are able to take on moving fortresses along with small ZPT robots. They can also have someone else to share fun times at abandoned amusement parks and hot springs. Being family with an android is not too bad. Having her call you “mom and dad ,” can be.

The concept of Junk Force is very intriguing. Depleted resources drive humanity to world war eventually resulting in humanity either splitting for Mars or struggling to restore Earth to what it once was. The little bit of history at the start of the series readers can quickly understand the difficulties that these characters have to live with. At the same time by presenting the different weapons and machines that are out to rid the Earth of polluters really kicks up the sympathy a notch. Even with the firepower that Liza and company have dug up and restored the odds are heavily stacked against them and everyone else.

Luckily, this mishmash team is upbeat and quite capable so when the action picks up they are there to meet the task. Furthermore, the concept of the Mars Pioneer faction having ambitions for the Earth, gives this series a lot of potential in the future. If things were tough already, watch out, maybe.

Junk Force is at its core a nice sci-fi title with fun characters, good mechanical designs and some decent fan-service One thing that I found interesting was how even the filler was vital to character development. A scene where things look really silly often softens the occasional long streaks of heavy sci-fi tension and can even create relationships that at the start of the series were a little questionable. Based on the CD dramas and the novels by Kakinuma Hideki and is the alternate point-of-view title to Softbank Publishing's Junk Force ~From Mars~ novel series (Kakinuma actually calls Junk Force "Junk Force ~From Earth~). All of these stories revolve around the same premise but while their characters and settings might be different, the war and mecha are all the same. What separate the manga from the others are the interactions between these characters. So far, we have had a chance to find out a bit about Louis and Mamet's histories. These two have gone through horrific lives to get to where they are now the manga does a decent job of showing those two as they try to survive against the odds. While I would like to see some more direction, I was definitely entertained with the start of this series and knowing that there is some good stuff to work off (Kakinuma wrote these novels as well as those for the Gall Force series) has me expecting good things in the future.


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