Mania Grade: C
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- Story by: Ryo Hoshino
- Art by: Ariko Itou
- Published by: Tokyopop
- Rating: Older Teen (16+)
- Price: $9.99
Manga Review: THE THIRD, Volume One
Anime prequel never gets past clichéd post-apocalyptic yarn.
By Nadia Oxford
May 09, 2008
THE THIRD, Volume One
It's almost guaranteed that a manga starring a well-proportioned girl will have at least one joke about small breasts. The Third keeps up the trend disappointingly, but not surprisingly. Most of the manga is pretty predictable post-apocalyptic mercenary fare.
The Third manga is actually the prequel to the anime of the same name. In the latter, the blue-haired Honoka is an experienced and fearsome warrior. In her manga “debut,” however, she's a young and runty girl with plenty of mischief and a desire to become the best Dune Runner in the world. Such ambition requires strict obedience to a client's request, which takes Honoka to some strange places.
Not quite strange enough, though. The Earth has been decimated by a huge war that left great swaths of uninhabitable desert across the globe. Lording over what's left of the Earth is a suspiciously human-looking race of aliens called The Third, so named for the third eye in their foreheads. The Third interacts little with the human race, though they have put strict taboos on technology such as flying machines. Their motives are unclear and it's not even certain if they're friendly or hostile, but they're of little concern in the manga, which focuses on troubles like lost cats.
To be fair, Honoka makes it clear that to advance in the ranks and become the great warrior she wishes to be (and becomes in the anime), she must cater to every request put in by a client. That includes the mundane tasks. There's truth to this philosophy, but a reader shouldn't have to be be dragged along the pages like a reluctant kid on a shoe shopping trip.
Honoka's career is shaped by several other short stories following the harrowing tale of the missing cat: There's berserk robots, grizzled old mentors, technological taboos and mysterious kidnappings. The story about the Third's forbidden technology is the most interesting offering of the bunch. Honoka helps a young boy realise his dream to fly a model plane, even though the mere mention of planes is silenced on the new Earth.
There's nothing particularly wrong with the other stories, but they're not especially exciting, either. A barren planet under the rule of an alien race might not be new material, but that doesn't mean stories surrounding the circumstances have to be the same trodden cliches presented by millions of science fiction tales. Even fans of the Third anime might be a little disappointed in how slowly Honoka's origins crawl into being.