kamiyadori Vol. #01 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: C+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 1-59816-633-6
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

kamiyadori Vol. #01

By Jarred Pine     November 29, 2006
Release Date: December 12, 2006

kamiyadori Vol.#01

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Kei Sanbe
Translated by:Ray Yoshimoto
Adapted by:Mike Wellman

What They Say
From Kei Sanbe, the creator of the hit series Testarotho, comes a chilling vision of a virus that is utterly out of control...

In a dark future, a biological disease that transforms humans into monsters called the Kamiyadori plagues the city. The peacekeeping forces include a special team called the Right Arms, specially trained officers with powers built into their right arms. They must keep tight control on those who are infected--and the only salvation they offer is execution! But when one Right Arms officer is unable to kill a young boy and his sister, he sets off a chain of events that may bring a ray of hope to a world filled with despair and chaos...

The Review
Kamiyadori is a stylish, violent manga that seinen and action manga fans will want to check out, but also offers up good substance with bleak stories about survival and the human element.

TOKYOPOP uses the character artwork from the Japanese cover, but they change up the background and English logo. The fiery background works well, fitting with their whole biohazard theme, but the black blocked logo space and Tokyopop stripe feel a bit distracting. The print reproduction is very spotty with lots of muddied tones and a few areas of moiré. There are also a few alignment issues, with a couple instances of text bubbles being cut off at the edges.

Kei Sanbe sure has a lot of fun, doesn't he? Male character designs are quite stylish, ruff and rugged with a punk edge; something very comparable to Nightow's Trigun. Sanbe also likes his women nude or scantily clad. Not sexy, mind you, just often showing off the goodies. A good amount of the panel artwork features a lot of stylish posturing with nicely detailed weapons, although I'm still unsure how the "scissors gun" works. The action sequences cleanly illustrated with a variety of panel sizes. Backgrounds are decent, although I found myself wish there was more to see of this dystopian world.

SFX are not translated unfortunately. However, signs and other in-panel text are translated in the margins, so kudos for that. The English script is very well handled; no awkward colloquialisms and it just has a nice flow. In fact, I'd even go as far to say that I enjoyed this title more just because of the well done adaptation.

Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
What I have learned by reading Kei Sanbe's Testarotho, previously released as 4 completed volumes from CMX, is that 1) he likes to draw nude or scantily clad women whenever possible and, 2) he likes to draw bad ass men with even badder weapons. Testarotho had plenty of interesting ideas, but Sanbe had a little trouble getting them all out in time before the series was abruptly cancelled. After reading Kamiyadori, it's still apparent that Sanbe still likes his women naked, his men rugged like a Pale Rider Clint Eastwood, and he still has plenty of interesting ideas.

Set in a dystopian future, the human race has come under attack by a virus called "kamiyadori" which causes a human body to undergo a gross and violent mutation into some kind of grotesque, insectival monster. The outbreak has divided society into those who are infected, those who are infected but have access to drugs, and those who are not infected at all. The infected are controlled, and often time executed, by a peacekeeping force that employs a special ops team called "Right Arms"--humans who have been given a strain of the virus in order to gain superhuman strength in dealing with the monstrous mutations.

What Sanbe does quite well with this introductory volume is creating stories that touch on the human element and behavior, rather than focusing on big, explosive battles between the Right Arms and the infected. Oh, Sanbe really wants to draw stylish posturing dudes with big guns, but he offers a nice bit of substance to go along with introducing the reader to this dark, bleak world. The Right Arms agents, Jil and Vivi, are tools for Sanbe to tell smaller stories about family members doing what is essential to survive, but at the same time he builds his characters through dream sequences and their reactions to the world around them.

While I applaud Sanbe's ideas and storytelling ability, he has a real problem writing women into his story without subjecting them to otaku fetishes. Vivi is a tiny moe-like character who is subject to frequent panty shots during her executions, only without the panties. Someone put some clothes on the little girl; ever hear of underwear!? The peacekeepers also use strange, completely naked moe girls as tools for observing the infected throughout the city while hooked up to a dream cyberpunk device. Evidently their nakedness helps them see, or something. The virus mutations also result magically in clothes being torn off and disintegrated. It's not sexy, but rather a little disturbing and obvious ploys for seinen fetishisms. My hope though is that Alisa, an officer of the peacekeeping forces, develops into an actual character rather than a vehicle for fanservice.

The book builds up into a longer story arc which features the introduction of a liberation group looking to make a statement against the peacekeeping forces, using a "fake" team of similar Right Arms fighters to do their bidding. It starts to creep into the heavy-action oriented material, but it's because Sanbe kept the story interesting up until that point that makes it all work.

For those readers who enjoyed Testarotho up until the abrupt ending, you'll definitely want to pick up Kei Sanbe's current title, Kamiyadori. Since it is still ongoing, I can't promise a satisfying ending, but I am certain that if you enjoyed Sanbe's artwork and dark storytelling style that you'll enjoy this work. It's definitely a mature manga, featuring lots of grotesque violence along with nudity and awkward fanservice, and I'll admit I'm a little surprised at the "OT" rating on the back of the book.

Kamiyadori is a stylish, violent manga that seinen and action manga fans will want to check out, but also offers up good substance with bleak stories about survival and the human element.


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