Maniac Road (aka Manii Road/Road of Maniac) Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: DrMaster
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 180
  • ISBN: 1-58899-012-5
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Maniac Road (aka Manii Road/Road of Maniac) Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     September 17, 2004
Release Date: July 01, 2004

Maniac Road (aka Manii Road/Road of Maniac) Vol.#01
© DrMaster

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Kurihashi Shinsuke
Translated by:Joanna Schug
Adapted by:

What They Say
Maniac Road is a story about a run down electronics store, located in the backstreets of Akihabara Japan. On its last leg, three sisters the store owners hire the resourceful Takezou. With a stroke of genius, Takezou, refashions the store into the perfect shopping ground for otaku. Business begins to boom and the adventure is on, as the sisters meet some of the strangest characters of the growing Japanese manga/anime scene. With its finger directly on the pulse of the modern-day otaku, this hip comedy will thrust you into the eclectic world of Japanese pop culture. Are you a maniac for anime and manga? Then jump on the road-- the true otaku breaks for no one!

The Review
Presented in a B6 this ComicsOne series is in right-to-left format. C1 uses the most of the original packaging used by Media Works. They have kept the original cover art featuring the entire main cast expressing their contrasting everyday personas on top of a map of the Akihabara district of Tokyo. C1 also keeps the original theme of the Japanese logo. The title has changed slightly from "Road of Maniac" to "Maniac Road" but they kept the original design with kana. It's a good move from C1 as they have had some mixed results with original logos in the past. The opposite cover has a cute SD image of Itsuki napping in a kitty costume above the large volume description.

The printing looks pretty good. Screen tone in particular does not suffer from the distortion present in other C1 titles. As this GN is practically the same size as the Media Works printing I did notice any alignment problems that would have come up when enlarging the scans. Inside ComicsOne includes the original volume header but in black and white instead of color. At the end of the GN there is a long ato-gaki and a bunch of ads: NOW, My Sassy Girl.

Kurihashi's character designs are not very fancy but they look good and work very well for this genre. He has every base covered - short young genki girl, flat chested but long legged high school girl, tall young yamamoto nadeshiko type, glasses wearing girl, variety of otaku and then the pretty boy type. He designs all of these without much detail, using thin but sharp lines that look equally good when characters are far in the background or positioned in a close-up. What I noticed is that his eyes in particular rarely lose much detail no matter what the angle or position (some mangaka tend to simplify faces in certain angles but Kurihashi rarely does that). Ever so often he may even turn to a sketchier look. Eyes tend to get more detailing and his jaw-lines become stronger in these images. As cosplay plays a role in this first volume, Kurihashi has a good range of costumes. He admits that he did not design all of them, but the designs are an interesting mix of a variety of popular looks - succubus, bunny girl, robot cat-girl, commando - are all here and look really nice on his cast.

Kurihashi does not have great backgrounds. Actually his best happen to be photographs of Akihabara that he placed his character art over. But his layout is pretty impressive. He uses a lot of manpu to set a feeling of otaku passion, which is focused and very strong. Because of this there are situations where manpu will overpower the character and background art, filling panels with a variety of FX making readers focus on the FX instead of the rest of the panel.

There are a few grammatical errors here and there, most notably is in the volume description on the back of the GN. There are a few typos here and there as well, but that seems to be standard for ComicsOne titles. SFX are translated with subs in this series. Generally ComicsOne does this better than most studios and this is no exception. What makes them unique is their use of smaller subs so they rarely compromise art in their smaller sized GNs.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In the world of otaku, there is one place that looms large as if it were a Holy Land. Like Mecca, Tibet, Jerusalem, or the Vatican a small neighborhood in the Kanda District of Tokyo is the epicenter of their people. There are times of day when this area looks almost every other Yamanote neighborhood, but from just before the stores open up until the last subway ride at night Akihabara becomes the heart of the otaku. All receipts point there for deals on electronics, digital media, manga, doujinshi, cosplay cafes and hentai. Basically every otaku necessity can be found there and there is where we are introduced to Muto Takezou.

Takezou is a relatively well rounded otaku. He is a video game fan, watches anime, cosplays, plays survival games and enjoys assembling model kits. There is nothing he has not tried in this culture. When we first meet him he is attempting to pre-order a video game and when the store tells him they do not take those, he settles in to wait on the streets of Akihabara until the release date. Only in Akihabara would something like this be normal, but people like Takezou are what makes Akihabara so unique.

There are some that are oblivious to otaku culture even in Akihabara. Some people may even dislike the culture, stereotyping otaku with eyes of prejudice. It is true that not all of Akihabara caters to fandom, but the heart of the otaku can only be there as those who cater to the otaku love them as much as the otaku love the area.

The Kinohara Electronics Shop is one of many small family owned appliance and parts shops in the neighborhood. One can usually find these in the alleys and side streets of Akihabara catering mainly to local residents looking for deals and discontinued items. This shop is feeling the competition. Ever since the owner passed away, his children have struggled to keep the business afloat.

When they meet Takezou, apparently sleeping on the sidewalk like a pile of garbage, they at then of their road. Bill collectors will be back in a month for payment or the shop will be forced too close down. If Aoba, Itsuzu, and Haruna want to keep the shop they will have to do something crazy. Luckily "crazy" just walked through their door. With Takezou's help this store could become an otaku heaven. A little work, some publicity, a cosplayer or two and some hard to find items and otaku will come from all over to get here. They just need to hear about Maniac Road and they will find a way.

Maniac Road is simply an otaku dream. Otaku stumbles around Akihabara, falls in front of an electronics shop on the rocks, finds some rare items in storage, helps sell them and with the shop owners approval a one stop otaku heaven is born. While it may not appeal to the casual manga reader, to the person arm-deep into fandom this could be the ideal situation to be in. Playing a role in the sales of the products you enjoy. Being involved with the fans by providing them the products these "hunters" want/need. Showing appreciation as fans by having staff cosplay, having contests or staging events. The cast in this story comes from different levels of fandom. Takezou is the hardcore otaku; Aoba dislikes otaku and their mentality; Haruna is just as removed from fandom as her sister Aoba, but unlike her younger sibling she accepts it unconditionally; youngest sister, Itsuzu, is growing into an otaku already. Kurihashi presents the stages on the road to being an otaku, through differing perspectives and personalities. As Kurihashi knows there are many different types of otaku, from different eras and backgrounds but what they all have in common is a love for detail. Getting all of the little things right. Whether it is from a model ship, a costume or customer service it is that obsessive quality that will lead someone onto the maniac road. After reading this first volume, it appears as if Kurihashi obsessed over this title cause he made sure present the feelings of an otaku from an otaku's point of view.

Kurihashi-sensei is an old skool otaku from an era before there were scores of magazines, specialty stores, huge conventions, and fansites. When Kurihashi started on his own maniac road, he was into military models and dioramas, which he occasionally found at the local stationary store. There was only one model magazine available and he would have to make some of them out of clay. Times sure have changed, but the passion remains strong. Kushihashi's love for models is evident in the first few chapters; his current obsession with survival games is shown at the end of the GN. With every new topic Kurihashi shows his readers more of his on road to mania and I realize I too have been on the same road hoping my otaku dreams would come true.



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