Louie the Rune Soldier Vol. #03 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: ADV Manga
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 1-4139-0123-9
  • Size: Tall B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Louie the Rune Soldier Vol. #03

By Eduardo M. Chavez     November 03, 2004
Release Date: October 01, 2004

Louie the Rune Soldier Vol.#03
© ADV Manga

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Mizuno Ryo/Sasameyuki Jun (Character designs by: Yokota Mamoru)
Translated by:Brendan Frayne
Adapted by:

What They Say
Louie is beginning to take his sorcery work seriously, but his problems and pitfalls only increase with practice. When a monk develops a technique that allows him to control the weather, Louie and his rough-and-tumble gang of fighters may be the only ones who can help the surrounding inhabitants, but Louie's lack of sense could ruin his chances of saving the day. And while he's slowly growing into a decent sorcerer, he is still a disaster when it comes to women. If you can't teach on old dog new tricks, then those who depend on Louie are in for more disappointment than one person could stand!

The Review
Presented in a tall B6 Louie is printed right-to-left. As they did with the first volume, ADV uses the original cover art on both sides of this GN. The front cover features Genie with swords in both hands, with a large Louie in the background. The image is a good choice for this volume, as these two tend to be at each other's throats for the early part of this GN. The opposite cover has an SD piece featuring Louie drinking with Ila's pet/familiar Ale, while Melissa, Merrill and Genie watch in disgust. Strange! Inside ADV gives readers six full color pages, including: cool volume header featuring Louie and a two-page spread in the middle of the GN with the whole crew for a chapter header. These pieces really show off Sasameyuki's art style very well. ADV also keeps the chapter bumpers (each featuring SD art), an ato-gaki from Sasameyuki-sensei and a "Thanks" page (this one has a great image of Genie.) The printing looks better than it did for the first volume. It is still not perfect, but definitely a step in the right direction.

Working with the character designs that Yokota Mamoru created for the novel series Sasameyuki adds a few good changes to what are already some great designs. With a few minor alterations to the costumes and adjustments to get these characters to scale Sasameyuki keeps the original feel while making these characters a little more action friendly (Yokota's designs are stunning but they look their best in color and in poses where his characters can show off their "finer" qualities). Sasameyuki predominantly uses dark heavy lines on his characters and backgrounds and like old skool artists tends to use ink to shade for specific purposes (namely shading on characters, instead of primarily using screen tone for all of her shading needs). Oh, and I did say all these characters look great. With Celcia and a lot of Ila in this volume, Sasameyuki's character art is at its best in this volume. Backgrounds are stale; which is a shame. With this title falling in the fantasy genre I wish the backgrounds were used more often cause I would love to see how Sasameyuki would illustrate this world but alas only on rare occasion is there much detail to anything besides the characters. The layout is pretty good. With the variety of sizes and positions, it works equally well with comedy and action scenes.

In typical ADV form the SFX are all subbed next to the originals. Unfortunately, they continue to sub aside text as well, which really clutters panels especially in an action title like this. The translation looks pretty good. While there might not be honorifics (which would have been interesting especially with how these characters interact), the context and the flow of the story felt really good. One thing that I was impressed with was the fact that they left in the assistants’ credits page. Some other studios would remove these because there is not much to them, some of them do not even have art on them (vol. 1 simply has an image of Merrill next to the credits) but I commend them for considering it and eventually leaving it in.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
There is only so much numb-skulled violence people can take and now Melissa, Merrill and Genie are fed up with Louie. While working with Louie has been successful in many ways, it has also been a pain in so many ways. They are not accustomed to relying on luck and fisticuffs for their success and safety, so they are slowly going crazy. In many ways, the girls are partially to blame. They do not give Louie too many chances to lead. Instead, he takes the initiative when there is usually nothing left to try, but they do not realize that when there is no other choice the results are often very risky. More often than not, they tend to overlook or quickly forget his success and they obsess on his lack of common sense. However, in at least two of his three partners, there appears to be some respect building. Let's hope Louie can work on that and not have it crumbling down.

When we meet Louie again, it appears that he might be able to finally win over his partners and possibly make a name for himself amongst the community at the same time. There have been a series of bizarre weather patterns recently, and according to some aware, it is caused by the scheming of a monk who was financially supported by local merchants, namely Ila’s father. The strange weather has become a nuisance to most in the region and has caused an uproar of hatred focused against the sorcerer community. Even though there are no real sorcerers that are involved, most of the locals believe that only a sorcerer would be capable of causing so much supernatural chaos. With the help of Ila, his gang and Celcia the elf there is no stopping Louie from resolving this situation. However, there are times when something is as good and as serious as they may be should be kept a secret from those not involved. Right!

Once back in town, Louie continues to dig himself a grave amongst the locals. Members of the merchant class find information of his past. And they will not wait to confirm who Louie is or is not, as they have begin to act out to try to further themselves by associating themselves with Louie. It is well known in Ohfun that Louie is the adopted son of the head sorcerer in this kingdom, but is more to his past than that. While his position will be eventually be based on his own abilities, he still will have connections within the magician community. However, there is not much to be said about being a sorcerer without much skill like Louie, so where does that put him in the social class structure? Normally in a situation like this, Louie would have to save himself after digging his grave, this time his friends will dig his grave for him. Hmmm, maybe Louie is not to blame for all of his downfalls after all.

This volume's two long stories take the focus away from Louie causing trouble and put the responsibility on his supporting cast. In the first story, this idea just completely falls flat. Louie's character has reached the point where he is now the strongest member of his gang in a few ways - physically his brute strength has saved them from a few tough situations and his unconditional bravery has him taking the risks that none of his partners are willing to take. In this volume, it is Louie saving the day by using both of those factors. However, instead of gaining respect as he has done before, the lack of growth seen by his partners has created a rift that appears to be widening. Unfortunately, their egos are not letting them accept that they were not capable of doing what Louie can.

The second story, which was not animated for the TV series, had Louie showing some of his better personality traits as he consistently is undermined by the efforts of his friends. Mizuno-sensei appears to be using moments like this, where inter-personal relationships take the front, to bridge the gap between Louie and his comrades. Louie's kindness and unique sense of honor has won the respect of most of those he runs into. However, if Louie is not allowed to be himself things start to fall apart. Up to this point, characters like Genie, Ila and Merrill have been one-dimensional. Ila's character got so much attention that she has progressed to where she appears to be a major source of support for Louie now. Merrill and Genie, though, still cannot support the plot on their own. Merrill is mainly comic relief, while Genie is almost a rival for Louie. But Louie already is naturally funny and he has surpassed Genie in value in battle, so without these two developing more the cast in general is weakened, as there appear to be fewer options for future stories.

Every title has a lull here and there and even though there are some hints to something big dropped here and there, this volume is a step down from the previous two. The biggest problem with this volume was that Louie was not given enough of the spotlight. Instead, in the first couple of chapters Genie's jealousy kept him in check and then Merrill's short-temper got him into trouble. If this volume did anything, it showed how weak the supporting cast is when Louie is not the focus of the sub-plot. It also showed how much better Ila's character is in comparison to the anime. Ila is still an enigma, but her influence appears to be even more powerful in the manga. More of Ila is always trouble... I mean, her presence equals more fun, so I hope she continues to play a strong role for the rest of the series. Even with this hiccup, Louie (along with Those Who Hunt Elves) is still ADV's best title. Good production, good translation, great art and entertaining stories clearly put this above most fantasy titles out there.


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