Ratman Vol. #01 - Mania.com

Manga Review

Mania Grade: A-

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translation Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 and Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 10.99
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 978-1427817457
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Ratman

Ratman Vol. #01

Ratman Vol. #01 Manga Review

By Matthew Warner     June 29, 2010
Release Date: April 27, 2010

Ratman Vol. #01

Not as small as you might believe.

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Inui Sekihiko
Translation: Adrienne Beck
Adaptation: Bryce Coleman

What They Say
Shuto Katsuragi loves superheroes. Unfortunately, he gets teased for his shortness whenever he tries to emulate his favorite one. The only thing that keeps him going is sharing his love for them with classmate Mirea Mizushima. Then one day, he's tricked into participating in some suspicious and super-villainous experiments! What's a shrimp to do when his dreams have come true in ways he never expected?

The Review!

The cover here is a decent one, primarily consisting of an image of Shuto and Rio standing alongside one another, but it unfortunately relegates Ratman himself to a dark, barely visible figure in the background.  The back fares better, containing a quick summary and a nice image showcasing the members of Jackal.  The artwork in this book primarily sticks to a crisp, clean style that isn’t terribly unique but is still pretty nice to look out.  However, there is one standout element to the art, and that is the design of Ratman himself, which is a fantastically detailed and outright cool design that occasionally even reaches a little towards the creepy side every once in a while.  
The translation reads smoothly here, the paper used is solid, and honorifics are retained.  However, sound effects are left completely untranslated, which is a real shame with how prominent they are in this great mix of comedy and action.  
Shugo Katsuragi is a 15 year old with one clear dream in his life: become a real hero.  With Japan currently in a huge hero boom, superheroes are popping up everywhere,  giving the young hero aficionado hope that his dream could really come true (though his small stature and his tendency to snap when anyone points it out could be points of concern.)  At school, he’s mostly looked down upon due to his hero obsession, but things are starting to look up, as he’s starting to become close to the somewhat detached beauty known as Mirea Mizushima (though his day takes a turn for the worse, as he later needs to be rescued by his upperclassman, a girl by the name of Rio Kizaki, and is even mistaken for an elementary school kid in the process.)  On his way home from school, he runs into what appear to be evil minions (though when he first finds them, they’re playing with kittens) and is kidnapped by them.
Upon waking up, Shugo finds himself in the clutches of the secret organization, Jackal.  They also have Mirea suspended over a boiling vat, but luckily a “hero” (well, his shirt says that at least) appears and in a blatantly scripted fight scene is defeated, prompting him to “spontaneously” give Shugo his transformation watch, allowing him to become a hero (after signing a conveniently available contract.)  With the watch, he transforms into the surprisingly dark and tall Ratman (who is not rat themed.  It seems to be more a reference to his position than his theme.)  With that, he is informed that it was all a setup (shocker) and he will now be forced to work in the evil organization, Jackal, underneath the leadership of the organizations head, Crea Mizushima (Mirea’s older sister.)  
The rest of the volume is spent on Ratman’s first assignment… breaking into the Kizaki mansion (Rio’s father is the head of the hero association, making the manor a prime target for Jackal, containing information on all heroes.)  Along the way, he utilizes the aid of the quirky Jackies (Jackal’s minions) and his superhuman skills to confront both a scantily clad Rio Kizaki and the powerful yet corrupt hero Ankaiser.  He comes out on top, but as a result is declared a villain and enemy of the entirety of the hero corruption.  Will Shugo still be able to realize his dream, or will he instead come to realize that the line between hero and villain might not be as clear as he once thought?
In Summary: 
With a fantastic cast of characters, including the silent yet absolutely hilarious Jackies, and a surprisingly interesting set-up, this series is definitely one to watch out for.  The line between heroes and villains is surprisingly grey even in this opening volume, the character of Ratman is actually a rather cool and intriguing design, and even the romantic interests for Shugo seem uncertain yet interesting, each in their own unique way.  While this probably wasn’t a title on most people’s radars, it certainly should be; with surprisingly solid jokes that had me laughing out loud on multiple occasions, characters with a surprising amount of depth and possibilities to them, and at least a few designs that are strikingly well done, this is a series that I have no problem recommending.  


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