Musashi #9 Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: CMX
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 206
  • ISBN: 1-4012-0540-2
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Musashi #9 Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     February 02, 2005
Release Date: November 10, 2004

Musashi #9 Vol.#01

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Takahashi Miyuki
Translated by:Tony Ogasawara
Adapted by:

What They Say
Some people want to change the world. This 16-year-old girl can.
Deep ideological, religious, and social differences drive the world closer to destruction, and the innocent masses suffer while politicians huddle in safety. One ultra-secret organization is committed to preserving world peace, and their top agent goes by the code name "Musashi #9." This agent battles terrorists and extremists, while bringing hope to the people she saves. The world may be a dangerous place, but it's whole lot safer with Musashi #9 in it.

The Review
Presented in right-to-left in a tall B6 GN, Musashi #9 features the original cover art used by Akita Shoten. CMX uses an image of lead character Shinozuka Kou (aka: Musashi #9), framed in the same way as CMX's sampler that was passed out at conventions this summer (the image is framed at an angle with the CMX logo above and a red panel, full of the kanji for this imprint - action, beneath). The opposite cover has a cropped red tone version of the front cover under a long volume description. The spine is really simple - CMX in red, followed by the title in black, mangaka in red and a shot of of Musashi above the volume number. Simple but not distracting like TOKYOPOP or Del Rey.

Inside CMX keeps the original volume header in black and white (which is how it originally was). What is really nice about this is how they left the original logo on the volume and the chapter headers, giving readers a chance to experience the original designs. The printing is pretty good, but I am not a fan of the paper used. I also believe there will be some that will be concerned by how tight the binding is for this title.

This volume does not have any extras, but it does have ads for Land of the Blindfolded, Swan, Madara and From Eroika with Love.

Takahashi's art is best described as tight. I say that because everything looks clean and consistent. Character designs have quite a bit of variety. There is a bit of detail in regards to form and facial designs. On top of that, costumes have quite a bit of variety, so each episode has its unique characteristics. I really like how Takahashi keeps her characters to scale and has given them realistic proportions. This gives her art a sense of realism, which supports the theme of her stories.

The backgrounds are great. They do not have a great amount of detail and at times, they look almost comical, but Takahashi uses them with a bit of frequency. What really stands out is how Takahashi uses her backgrounds. Because of the espionage aspect the perspective and positioning is very important. Seeing the background in different angles, letting backgrounds frame a scene through foreshadowing and giving the backgrounds a purpose in each story. The layout is very good as well as it helps with the point of view for each scene, giving the reader a sense of being involved in the action.

SFX/Translation :
The translation for Musashi sounds great. Even though there are no honorifics, the dialogue flows well and maintains the individual personalities of the characters. I noticed that they kept names in Japanese order (family name followed by given name). This helped me take the lack of honorifics a little better. I did not notice any typos or grammatical errors either; which is a good sign for a new publisher.

SFX are not so great. CMX seems to be inconsistent in regards to what they will translate and what they will not. They hardly translated them in this volume (which reminds me of how CMX editor Jake Tarbox handled SFX when he was with Gutsoon!) What is worse is that they are not consistent with how they translate either - overlays or large subs. At least they overlaid all of the aside text, so it was not a total loss.

There are people around the world that try to change the world for their own benefit. Occasionally we read about some of atrocities and the suffering caused by these plans. They happen much more often than we know. What prevents these events from being more common are people intent on countering the wrongs in order to protect this planet. They work for no government. Their only agenda is peace and preserving our blue Earth. You may have never heard of them, but they are out there and they always succeed.

Kou is a part of one these organizations. You possibly could not tell if you looked at her. Actually, you might have problems figuring out she is a she at first glance, but she purposely has to maintain a gender-neutral persona for her job, you see. Kou is a professional, through and through. Her codename - Musashi #9 - tells those who are knowledgeable about foreign affairs, that she is capable of changing history and nothing is beyond her abilities. She can be a skilled sharpshooter. She can be an experienced fighter. She can be jet pilot or an international mediator if she needs be. She may only be in her teens, but to the nine - the nine chief members of her organization - age, gender or race are meaningless. Their skills speak for them; therefore, peace around the world is because of their skill.

Musahsi #9 really tests what many people consider shojo. Most people immediately think of romances and fantasy titles when shojo is brought up. Musashi #9 is neither. It is action and espionage, and the focus is often not even on the main character. Agent #9 is really only an omnipresent being. She knows everything, sees everything and is everywhere. The idea is interesting as it turns the focus away from specific goals to unique plots in this episodic series. Each self-contained episode ends up the same, with Kou saving the day, but how Takahashi-sensei gets there is what is critical here. There are infinite ways to maintain peace. Some are more obvious than others (international affairs) are, but sometimes getting involved in the lives of regular people can be just as important. Takahashi understands that and that is why Kou is not driving the dialogue. By having her observe and finally judge, Takahashi can properly set up each story and drive her reasons for each mission. In the end, I ended up finding myself enjoying each story, but I often wished for more. There is so much mystery and so little is explained. Without the continuity, I have a hard time identifying with the cast and their struggles. Still, Musashi #9 is one of the more intriguing titles I have read in a while. It challenges readers into seeing characters in a different light but it has yet to really capture my attention very much as there are too many questions I want answered.


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