King of Thorn Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B-

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 978-1598162356
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: King of Thorn

King of Thorn Vol. #01

By Ariadne Roberts     December 17, 2007
Release Date: June 12, 2007

King of Thorn Vol.#01

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Yuji Iwahara
Translated by:Alexis Kirsch
Adapted by:Aaron Sparrow

What They Say
Twin sisters... Separated by fate... Drawn together by a horrific illness... Kasumi and her sister, Shizuku, were infected with the Medusa virus, which slowly turns the victim to stone--and there is no cure! Hope for salvation rests in Kasumi and a select few who are put into a cryogenically frozen state until a cure is found. But Shizuku is left behind, and in the not-too-distant future, Kasumi awakens to find herself in an unfamiliar world with terrifying beings roaming the terrain. Resolving to unlock the mysteries of the disease and the fate of her twin sister, Kasumi struggles to survive in this treacherous world!

The Review
The English cover is the same as the Japanese, aside from the slightly tweaked colors, new thorny logo, and ever-present Tokyopop spine logo. On the back is a few choice square illustrations, including a cute picture of Kasumi and Shizuku in pajamas. Two color pages, a two-page afterword from the author, and a teaser description for volume two are included.

At first glance, you could easily mistake the art for something from an American comic book or cartoon. The paneling and general visual flow of things is the same, but everything else has a distinct cartoony look different from anything I have ever seen drawn by a Japanese artist. It took me a while to figure it out, but I believe it may be the small amount of screentone used that sets it apart.

While the artwork feels incredibly stylized, it is still very approachable because the characters show so much raw emotion and so much personality on every page.

All sound effects are untranslated, aside from one on the author's afterword. I didn't see any honorifics used, but unfortunately I am unsure if they were removed or if they weren't present in the original text.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After a lethal virus known as "Medusa" spread quickly across the globe, killing people in just six weeks, an advanced cryogenics facility accepted 160 infected people to be frozen until a cure was found. The protagonist, a young Japanese student named Kasumi, got in, but her twin Shizuku didn't. It breaks her heart to be separated from her twin, and haunts her throughout the story.

Something goes awry at the facility, and a few dozen people wake prematurely to find their capsules are surrounded by prehistoric beasts and the castle in ruins. Amidst the chaos, seven people escape, and begin a race against time and bleak circumstances to find out what's happened to their world and possibly a cure for the virus that is slowly killing them all.

Some aspects of this story are cliched: the big hulking tattooed guy, the meek little girl, the abrasive geezer. You can accurately guess their personality just based off their appearance, which aids the reader in remembering the characters, but makes everything feel that much more unoriginal.

I'm not sure if Iwahara intended for the story to be chilling or scary -- he probably did -- but to me it was neither. I didn't feel connected to any of the characters, most of who weren't even given names (at least so far) and given virtually no backstory. The high stakes scenario should be interesting by default, but it just didn't feel the thrill and danger that it should have. It felt paint-by-numbers: women crying and flipping out, men coming to blows, mysterious survivor scaring everyone else, plucky young 'un shocking everyone. I don't feel any doubt that Kasumi will make it, or that she'll be reunited with her sister somehow, but then again, if you look at his other series Chikyu Misaki, Iwahara is good at leading stories to strange places. This is by no means a bad start, just a little disappointing given how enjoyable and creative his other series have been.


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