MAR (aka: Marchen Awakens Romance) Vol. #02 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 7.99
  • Pages: 2000
  • ISBN: 1-59116-903-8
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

MAR (aka: Marchen Awakens Romance) Vol. #02

By Jarred Pine     July 26, 2005
Release Date: July 15, 2005

MAR (aka: Marchen Awakens Romance) Vol.#02
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Nobuyuki Anzai
Translated by:Kaori Inoue
Adapted by:

What They Say
Fourteen year-old Ginta's journey through the fantasy world of his dreams continues in this volume, where he must battle against the megalomanical machinations of the group known as the Chess Pieces!

The Chess Pieces have already tried to take over "Mar Heaven" once before, but they were foiled by a human visitor from Earth, who used the living iron ball known as "Babbo" as a weapon. Now, Babbo has joined Ginta, but because he suffers from amnesia, he has no recollection of his previous glory. But with the Chess Pieces on the move again, Ginta and Babbo are expected to make history repeat itself!

The battle against the Chess Pieces commences in this volume as the gang is enlisted by an ugly dog, who is not what he seems to be, to rescue a princess who's been frozen in ice. Ginta soon discovers, though, "Princess Snow" happens to look exactly like Yuki, the girl from school he's long had a crush on... Can he be a hero in the face of this frozen beauty?

The Review
Nobuyuki Anzai continues his take on an average shounen story set in an average fantasy world, making it very enjoyable with a great sense of humor and style.

The cover features the same character illustrations as the Japanese release, with Jack, Ginta, Babbo, Princess Snow, and Ed. The background features a nice illustration of a castle with stone bridges and walkways giving it a nice fantasy feel. Instead of white space it is filled in with a silver color giving the impression that the book is framed. It is a nice presentation and definitely catches the eye with the vibrant colors.

Inside there is a character profile and story summary, volume and chapter headers, and a mini-manga with a few words from Anzai. The print job is very crisp with no noticeable signs of fading.

Anzai definitely has his own noticeable style with his character designs. They are extremely spunky looking with their spiky hair, big eyes, and punk/gothic accessories. With the introduction of the Chess Pieces, Anzai gets really creative with some great looking bad guys, my favorite being the pumpkin-head with studs chained to an iron bar named Halloween. His designs definitely have an edge to them that really appeals to me. I also continue to be impressed with how much personality Anzai is able to give Babbo with such a minimalist design.

I am not so much of a fan of the action and background artwork. The action art can be dynamic, but the characters and action blend in with each other too much, making it hard at times to distinguish what is happening in the panel. The backgrounds also don't stand out enough, making it hard to gain a good perspective.

SFX are translated and retouched. The retouch job looks really good, as the new text is not overly obtrusive and rarely boxed, so it blends it with the art. The translation reads quite smoothly and I thought the dialogue adaptation was very nice. I still love Babbo's quips and "gentlemen" comments, as the humor comes across quite well.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
Ginta, Jack, and Babbo continue their quest through Mar Heaven, trying to find a Dimension Arm that will take Ginta back to his world. After a run in with more bandits who are trying to steal Babbo, a mysterious young man named Alviss comes to their aid, but also announces his intentions to destroy Babbo. Alviss is a survivor of an earlier war in Mar Heaven that stopped the rise of a militant group of Arm wielders named the Chess Pieces. The champion of this group of militants was named Phantom, and his Arm in which he used to slaughter many was Babbo. Phantom was eventually defeated by another human from the other world, which is why Alviss used a powerful Dimension Arm to bring over another in hopes of stopping a second war from breaking out. The human he got was Ginta, whom now must become stronger in order to be able to fight the Chess Pieces and Phantom, who has recently been resurrected.

All of this information is for the most part revealed in a couple chapters towards the beginning of the volume. This new information helps add a greater sense of purpose now to the story that I'm sure will continue on until the end. The setup is very much an average shounen quest storyline, boy must become stronger to protect something he loves all while sacrificing something important to him. In this case, Ginta wants to protect Mar Heaven from being destroyed by the Chess Pieces, while giving up momentarily on his returning home to his mother. To complicate matters, Ginta's friend might also be his worst enemy. Ginta of course refuses to accept this fact and continues to believe that Babbo will never awaken and turn against him. I'm not going to give the story any points for originality, but I do find myself attached to Ginta, Babbo, and Jack, so I definitely am interested in seeing them succeed on their quest.

And what fantasy tale would be complete without a princess in distress who is need of rescue? The rest of this volume finds our trio of travelers coming across an ice castle, inside which is a princess, from a mighty kingdom called Lestava, who has created this ice fortress to protect herself from her evil step-mother the Queen. To Ginta's surprise, Princess Snow looks very much like his school sweetheart, Koyuki. It is while trying to rescue Princess Snow that Ginta meets the first members of the Chess Pieces, a couple Rooks named Ian and Loco as well as a Knight named Halloween. The Chess Pieces have a militaristic, hierarchal system that designates one's place within a squadron, with Pawns at the bottom of the ladder and a King to rule the squadron. While the Chess Pieces prove to be tough opponents, Ginta receives some help from an unlikely source, a dog named Ed who turns into a powerful Arms warrior after sleeping 3 times (who then returns back to a dog after sleeping once).

The first volume of MAR was a nice surprise in that what looked to be an average shounen fantasy turned out to provide quite a few laughs and stylish artwork. With this second volume, the plot begins to thicken a bit as more of this world and Ginta's place in it are fleshed out. But everything that made the first volume enjoyable remains and continues to really put a smile on my face.

Babbo has a lot to do with my chuckling, as I just can't stop laughing at his commentary and sarcastic attitude. Now with the introduction of the Chess Pieces, I am also enjoying Anzai's creative designs. There's also just this air of good silly humor that Anzai gets across really well. I mean, look at Edward. He sleeps 3 times and becomes some great warrior, but then returns to a dog after sleeping once. What the hell? It's just little stuff like this that keeps me grinning from ear to ear.

MAR doesn't do anything new with the genre, but so far it hits the right buttons and I'm enjoying my time with this title.


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