Mania Grade: B-
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- Art Rating: B+
- Packaging Rating: A-
- Text/Translatin Rating: B+
- Age Rating: 13 & Up
- Released By: Viz Media
- MSRP: 9.99
- Pages: 200
- ISBN: 1-59116-904-6
- Size: B6
- Orientation: Right to Left
MAR (aka: Marchen Awakens Romance) Vol. #03
By Jarred Pine
October 21, 2005
Release Date: October 15, 2005
MAR (aka: Marchen Awakens Romance) Vol.#03
© Viz Media
Translated by:Kaori Inoue
Adapted by:What They Say
With Princess Snow safe at last, Ginta, Jack, and Edward rest their feet and prepare for their next quest. During their much-deserved feast, Edward tells Ginta the story of a former Cross Guard leader - a man that actually defeated Phantom - but who has long since passed from this world. If Ginta and Jack hope to follow in this ancient hero's footsteps, they must become one with their weapons, and there's only one way to do that - to enter the Gate of Training. But once their party is inside, will Edward be able to protect the Gate's entrance if the Chess Pieces seize upon this opportunity and attack?The Review
The inevitable training arc has arrived, where Ginta and Jack must power up their Arms in order to take on the Chess Pieces, who have begun to mobilize their attacks on Mar Heaven.Packaging:
The cover features the same character illustrations as the Japanese tankoubon, with Ginta and Babbo doing a pose with the Mar Heaven world map behind them. The cover artwork is framed by a metallic chain which is a nice touch. The colors look really vibrant on the semi-gloss finish. The print reproduction is solid with sharp tones and no fading. Just a little bit of extras here with a one page strip from Anzai-sensei as well as him answering a couple questions.Art:
While some of the spunkier character designs are a little derivative, Anzai-sensei’s artwork is very clean and uses all the different tones quite nicely. Some of the close-ups of Edward look fantastic, perfectly showing off his battle-hardened personality. The designs for the Chess Pieces are my favorite, featuring quite a range of imaginative characters. There backgrounds are pretty standard looking material for SJ titles. The action artwork is illustrated cleanly, although the panels feature more of the results of attacks rather than showing them in step-by-step motion. Text/SFX:
SFX are translated and retouched. The retouch job looks really good, blending in with the artwork quite nicely. There are no problems that I can tell with the translation. I am not familiar with the original text, but everything seems to read very clearly and appropriately to me.Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
The first training arc has arrived. It is an inevitable event in shounen manga, especially the action and fantasy oriented titles, and the results vary greatly. Some titles will have volumes upon volumes of training and powering up, while others will take a more brief approach in order to prepare for the next stage ahead. Some titles will develop the characters while others will use it for more educational purposes. The one thing they all have in common though is that it will happen; it’s just a matter of time.
The training arc here is self-contained within this one volume, playing out as more of an educational break with more interesting events going on behind the scenes in order to make sure the ball is rolling once the training is over. Edward (or Alan) sends Jack, Ginta, Snow, and Dorothy off into another dimension where time is 1/60th slower than Mar Heaven so that they can train for 6 months time (or 3 days in Mar Heaven). It is here that will learn about all the different types of Arms that exist as well as their different abilities. It is also here that Ginta and Jack must learn how to harness the full potential of their Arms using magical stones that are placed in the Arms themselves. Based on the power of these stones, the Arms will take on a form designated by the Arms wielder, which of course requires both Arms and wielder to become one.
The major problem with this training arc here is believing that Ginta progressed from simple outlander into a Bishop-level fighter, mostly because the reader never gets to see exactly what Ginta did for training. If Ginta is going to become a great warrior that will save Mar Heaven, I want to see blood, sweat, and tears and feel his pain and motivations for doing so. There is none of that here as the training just jumps forward in big leaps and bounds, telling the reader what happened instead of showing them. I was also a bit disappointed with what Ginta came up with for Babbo’s powers after training for 180 days. I expected something a bit more creative since it was up to Ginta’s imagination.
The most interesting part of this volume are the events unfolding on Mar Heaven while Ginta is locked away for training. The Chess Pieces have begun to mobilize, trampling and murdering village after village, once again starting a war. Without a doubt, the Chess Pieces are the most interesting characters in the story right now, along with Edward and Alviss. Anzai-sensei does a nice job at setting up the future storyline by showing just how merciless and formidable the Chess Pieces are. As we see village after village get destroyed, all unknowingly to Ginta, the story stays interesting in what could have been a bland set of chapters.Comments
Training arcs. There’s just no escaping them in shounen action or fantasy manga. The only hope is that they are entertaining or filled with good development. In this volume of MAR, the actual training is completely forgettable, offering only a few nuggets of information about Mar Heaven and the Arms. However, the events with the Chess Pieces unfolding in the background keeps me engaged and caring about the direction of this story. I just hope that the little bit of momentum surrounding the Chess Pieces is carried over into the next volume.