Maoh: Juvenile Remix Vol. #01 - Mania.com



Manga Review

Mania Grade: A-

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Info:

  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translation Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 and Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 978-1421534282
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Maoh: Juvenile Remix Vol. #01

Maoh: Juvenile Remix Vol. #01 Manga Review

By Sakura Eries     May 10, 2010
Release Date: May 11, 2010


Maoh: Juvenile Remix
© Viz Media

A teenage boy with a supernatural ability discovers the dark side of the charismatic hero of his city.

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Megumi Osuga
Translation: Stephan Paul
Adaptation: Stephan Paul

What They Say
What do you do when the city's savior is actually a devil in disguise...? Ando is a high schooler who posses the ability to force others to vocalize his thoughts. As a child he was shunned and ridiculed for this ability, and so he quickly learned to suppress it. But now, despite all his effort to act normal and fit in, he's dragged into a situation that forces him to reawaken his gift.

The catalyst is the actions of a group called "Grasshopper," lead by a charismatic and mysterious young man, Inukai. Grasshopper portraysitself as a civic group, but the events Ando witnesses point at something far more disturbing. As the organization grows in strength and numbers, Ando begins a dangerous shadow game to check Inukai's plans.

The Review!

Technical:
Maoh falls into the category of shonen supernatural thriller, and the cover art represents the tone of the manga well. The front cover features Ando in his "ventriloquism" mode. The text, kanji, and red splotch (that resembles a bloodstain) arranged around him give the cover an imposing look. On the back cover, we have an arrangement of barbed wire, more red splotches, and an illustration of the enigmatic Inukai framing the story synopsis. Aside from a brief statement from the mangaka and short biographical blurbs on the opening page, this title doesn't have much in the way of extras.
 
Regarding the artwork, Osuga has a clean, easy to follow style with detailed backgrounds. She's skillful when it comes to delivering a punch in the dramatic scenes, and her depictions of the Grasshoppers are pretty freaky. Her character designs aren't the prettiest, but characters are distinct and include a lot of detail, including that of the sweat/snot/blood variety. The drawings are quite blatant in regard to fanservice. Of the only two female characters in the cast, one has monstrously large breasts (each the size of her head) while the other has a shot of her exposed bra as her introductory illustration.
 
Printing is crisp, including the drawings originally done in color, and the binding and pages are nice and sturdy. Viz has done an excellent job replacing sound effects and text on signs, packaging, and papers with English overlays. The translation is also satisfactory, although Viz does not include any notes to explain Japanese cultural references. There is one scene in particular where Junya and his girlfriend make reference to a teru bozu, and unless you know what a teru bozu is and what it's used for, it doesn't carry the same impact.
 
Content:
"The nail that sticks out gets hammered down."
 
That's the truth that rules the life of high school student Ando. He has a special power, the ability to make others say out loud what he is thinking, but the one time he tried to share it with his peers, it led to rejection. Since then, he's been careful not to stray from the crowd, even if it means putting up an act. However, Ando deems it the necessary price for peace in his life.
 
That is, until he meets Inukai, the head of the vigilante group known as Grasshopper. This young man has turned into a public hero as he stands up against criminals and corrupt politicians. Upon hearing Inukai's call for change, Ando finds himself inspired to as well -- until he discovers the dark side of Grasshopper. Will Ando stand idly by or will he take a stand?
 
This is the type of manga that would appeal to fans of Dark Knight stories. You have the decaying metropolis Nekota as the setting and Inukai and his Grasshoppers providing the vigilante aspect. However, unlike Batman, who hides his true identity and acts predominantly under cover of darkness, Inukai's face is publicly known, and he acts in the open. In addition, Inukai's got supernatural forces on his side, and although he has a huge influence on the plot, he is actually not the main character.
 
That honor falls to Ando, who despite his unusual circumstances (special ability/orphan) is a highly relatable character. All he wants is to avoid trouble and be accepted by his peers. As such, the way he discovers, suppresses, and eventually explores his power is very believable. He calls his ability to make others say out loud what he's thinking "ventriloquism," but it's a bit more than that. The people that he controls speak in a manner congruent to what he's making them say, and they have no memory of it afterwards. As far superpowers go, it's novel but not the handiest. However, the creators make it work such that he gets out of two sticky situations using it. Also, for some reason, covering his mouth is necessary for the power to work, and when he assumes that pose, he rather reminds me of Lelouch from Code Geass covering up his eye.
 
Unlike Lelouch, Ando's goals are not revolutionary. His main concern is getting himself and his brother through life. As such, his initial reaction upon discovering the brutal side of the Grasshoppers is to turn a blind eye. It's not until a bullied classmate gets involved and weird things start happening around school that Ando feels compelled to investigate Inukai.
 
Indeed, the suspense predominately comes not from Ando, whose life is an open book to the reader, but the mystery surrounding Inukai. Yet Ando is interesting to watch as he reacts to the Grasshopper' dealings and grows as a character. It remains to be seen what will arise between Ando and Inukai, but it definitely is not headed towards your standard good guy versus bad guy path. Whichever way it goes, there'll be plenty of the supernatural lurking around them. Even Ando's brother Junya appears to have prophetic dreams.
 
I should mention that this work isn't completely suspense and darkness. Osuga does break the tension here and there with bits of humor, mostly of the big breasts and my-girlfriend-is-such-a-ditz-she-came-to-school-half-dressed type. Between that and a largely male cast, Maoh is definitely geared towards a young male audience.
 
In Summary:
A teenage boy with a special power, a charismatic hero with a sinister side, and the struggle of ordinary citizens against a tide of criminals and unscrupulous businessmen. Maoh blends supernatural thriller and hero's journey to make for an engaging shonen title.
 
This manga is rated Teen Plus for swearing, fan service, and violence.

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