Maniac Road (aka Manii Road/Road of Maniac) Vol. #03 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: DrMaster
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 204
  • ISBN: 1-58899-015-X
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Maniac Road (aka Manii Road/Road of Maniac) Vol. #03

By Eduardo M. Chavez     April 21, 2005
Release Date: February 18, 2005

Maniac Road (aka Manii Road/Road of Maniac) Vol.#03
© DrMaster

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

What They Say
The fun otaku fetish keeps rolling as the Maniac Road story comes to a stunning conclusion. A shark dashes our gang s fun day at the beach, but what ensues is a full blown witch hunt to capture a World War 2 submarine. When Takezou s family starts showing up, we begin to see a more serious side of Maniac Road s commander-in-chief. Hilarious competition arises as Takezou s sister Shinano threatens his peaceful seclusion. But the fun subsides and the drama increases as the store catches fire, and it is up to Takezou to rush forth and save Aoba from the flames! But his sacrifice may be too great this time.

The Review
Presented in a B6 this DRMaster series is in right-to-left format. DrMaster uses the most of the original packaging used by Media Works. They have kept the original cover art featuring the entire main cast wearing their work uniforms. They have also maintained 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, as they have had some mixed results with original logos in the past. The opposite cover has a cute SD image of Itsuki sitting around in a bunny costume above the long volume description.

The printing looks very 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 DrMaster 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 (which introduces Kurihashi's follow-up manga Pretty Maniisu) and a few ads: 888, Kosplay Koromo-chan and Tori Koro.

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 yamato 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 rarely lose much detail in whatever 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, and commando - are all here and look really nice on his cast.

Backgrounds are not Kurihashi's strength. Actually, his best happen to be photographs of Akihabara that he placed his character art over. Nevertheless, 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.

Ahhh. Would this be a DrMaster title if it did not have a few typos? Well this volume starts on the wrong foot with typos right on the volume description. Seems their word processing program does not have apostrophes or hyphens. The rest of the manga is much better and the research seems to have improved from the last volume.

SFX are translated with subs in this series. Generally, DrMaster 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)
Business is going well at Maniac Road, but occasionally everyone deserves a break. Therefore, the young proprietors of Maniac Road have decided to take some time off from the business and have hit the beach. One might not expect an otaku to find much to obsess over while relaxing on the beach, but Takezou seems to have found something that was built with the utmost care and precision in the waters around it. Otaku come in many forms and some of them make small models, others make life-size ones!

Once back in Akihabara, Takezou ends up running into someone who might be his only true rival. This person knows all of the ins-and-outs of fandom. She knows the concepts of value and aesthetic. She knows how to trade and barter. She knows how to abuse the downfalls of otaku and their social ineptness. This person is Takezou's equal in almost everyway... But what would you expect from his little sister, right? Shinano is here to stay and Maniac Road is going to get a lesson in crane games, cosplaying and family responsibility.

Finally, in the last mini-arc of this series, Aoba comes to terms with what fandom means to her and to her family. It is much more than the shop and the stinky otaku clientele. When she realizes how much work and effort is put into the things people collect, the games people play, the stories they make or even the feelings they want to express, she realizes that being an otaku is limited to video game freaks or doll makers. She understands the work her father put into what made him happy. She sees the efforts that the local ramen shop owner puts into perfecting the right flavor of his craft and it is all the same. It is an expression of one’s passions and when her shop needs it, the most she has to help put her impression on it… like a proud maniac.

Collectors know that everything has a shelf life. Certain items can be kept for years and then there are other items that do not last quite as long. In situations like the later, collectors often try to replace the item, hopefully with something similar but maybe better. In Maniac Road, Takezou and the girls have to replace something that is dear to them. To the girls this was something they felt was irreplaceable. They had too many memories and too much history there. What they lost was a part of their family.

What Takezou felt was something very different. He understands all that the girls lost, he lost quite a bit himself, but he also understands that those memories will be used to recreate what they had and make new memories together. They will make this not just for themselves, but also for everyone who shared in those memories. Maniac Road eventually became a collector's item, but one as unique as those who run it. That is the passion of otaku... having items that are representative of their own personalities and tastes. That is illustrated in every chapter of each volume of Maniac Road, because this is obviously a view into Kurihashi's otaku heart. Yeah, the ending is a little cheesy, but it shows how ideally an otaku can obsess over anything - big or small, cute or cold or something that is not even that tangible.

From start to finish Maniac Road has been one of the more honest and insightful looks into fandom I have experienced ever. It shares the history of various manias from the perspective of someone who has done it and has been a maniac. The results are funny and very genuine. Even with all the comedy it never really goes too fantastic or takes the subject topics lightly. Every chapter appears to be well researched, well thought out and that alone made it very entertaining. In my opinion, this is one of the true gems of this past year. If you are an otaku this is a must buy and if you are just getting into this new world of Japanese fandom Kurihashi and his characters will introduce you to the rest of what is out there. Maybe you’ll find out that you have already been a maniac, as well.



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