Samurai Man Vol. #01 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: AW Productions
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 1-58655-660-6
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Samurai Man Vol. #01

By Eduardo M. Chavez     November 28, 2005
Release Date: July 01, 2005


Samurai Man Vol.#01
© AW Productions


Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Serizawa Naoki
Translated by:Juilia Rose
Adapted by:

What They Say
Ryouma is a young man imbued with the samurai spirit. He's always ready to defend the weak and fight for honor, but it doesn't help him with that really cute girl, Katsumi. She only has eyes for Shizuka. While on a field trip exploring the historical building in Kyoto, Ryouma spotted them kissing, and then his whole world was shattered... literally! Caught in the middle of a fight between gods Ryouma was found worthy and became one with the Warrior King of the Southern Skies. Now NOTHING makes sense, as he has to judge his high school studies and epic battles that shake Heaven and Earth.

The Review
Packaging:
AW continues to make some of the better-looking manga out there. With Samurai Man they present this in a B6 sized book with a matted cover. They have kept the original cover art - featuring both sides of Ryouma the Samurai Man. In addition, they only do a slight alteration to the original logo - take out the Japanese furigana and change it from yellow to white.

Inside the printing is solid. I believe this title comes from the original Japanese printer films, so the printing is has wonderful looking clarity. They include the original volume header, with the original Japanese logo and Shonen Champion Comics logo. AW keeps the chapter headers and the bumper art, as well. Inside the cover, there is a message from the mangaka. And at the end of the GN, there is a staff-listing page, conceptual photographs taken by the staff while researching in Kyoto, another message and a preview spread for volume two.

Artwork:
Serizawa's art works very well for this title. As I was reading it, I get the impression that he might have been influenced by Koike and his style of panel layout. Similar to what readers might see in Koike's samurai titles, Serizawa really uses a cinematic style of presentation where the action is always at the focus. Presenting the scene at its most dramatic is also important, so you will see plenty of angles and a good use of perspective. At the same time, this is a shonen title so there is the average number of close-ups one would expect from titles for younger audiences.

The character designs are more of a more detailed version of Kamimura Kazou. The characters tend to have rounder more narrow shapes for heads than most contemporary manga. There is a delicate look to the designs. One thing what separates the two here is how Serizawa uses more a sketchy way to draw. Moreover, the sense of proportion and scale is similar. Serizawa's sense of scale is almost perfect. In the basketball scenes, all the characters look tiny and when Ryouma dunks, he does look like he is almost five feet above the court. The proportions are good. The muscle tone and body size was appropriate for the ages of the cast (though, I think Shizuka was pretty mature looking for a middle school student). Going back to Serizawa's drawing style, he tends to do all the shading through pen work (something that Kamimura rarely did). This gives his art a slightly rough look, but I felt that worked well with this story.

Text/SFX:
Media Blasters has done a very good job translating this title. The characters seem to stand out as individuals in this story. There is also a good amount of signage and aside text that has been handled in a way where the translation does not compromise art. I did not notice any typos, but I did notice some inconsistency in regards to some names. The cover notes Ryouma likes a cute girl named Katsumi and she “only has eyes for Shizuka”. But inside, Ryouma likes Saotome Shizuka and she has a crush on Kurobe Katsumi.

SFX are not translated. This is definitely surprising in this age, when fans have voiced their displeasure over the lack SFX translations for the past few years. This manga does not have a lot of SFX, but I really wish the few that are present could have been translated in some way.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Suo Ryouma was cut from a different cloth. He is not a swordsman. He honestly is not even a real fighter. Instead, this young man is a something special. And while on the surface he might not be your first choice as a bushi type, as this story progresses we get to see that inside Ryouma has the honor, strength and talent to be one that can stand up to the gods.

When you first meet Ryouma, he is standing up for those who tend to taken advantage of. He does not have the strength to take on all comers, but he has the smarts and the intangibles that make him valuable to so many people. We soon find out he is the team captain of his high school hoops team. He is not the star or even a scorer, but according to his coaches, what he brings to the court cannot be described in simple terms like that. Ryouma is a self-sacrificing young man. He is everyone's friend. Yet at the same time, he might also be mister invisible. And what makes Ryouma so unique is that he is completely respectful of that fact. He does not boast or abuse his talent; instead, he shares it with those around him. For those reasons, he is much like a samurai at heart.

So Ryouma is doing all right, no real worries, but what does he do with that? Outside of the guys on the team and his classmates, he is just some other person. Yeah, he has a gang of guys covering his back, yet in the end, he is the one sticking his neck out when things get crazy. He is in love with someone but guys with ulterior motives tend to catch the girls eyes. This is obviously not the era of the bushi, and it shows in Ryouma's day-to-day life.

That changes while on a field trip. While checking out the historical sights of Kyoto, Ryouma and his gang are given brief opportunities to break up and spend some time. The time was just right to pull off something crazy. And something earth shattering did happen, something huge. Unfortunately, unlike Ryouma's idea to confess to a girl he is in love with, this was not planned for.

A dimensional rift opened a door between hell and this world. Two god warriors in mid-fight appeared before Ryouma and two of his classmates. If Ryouma was not shocked by what he saw his love interest Shizuka doing before this, he was definitely scared stiff by the incredible power of these two monsters. Without much effort the warriors carve up Kyoto. Suddenly when Shizuka finds herself within swords-length of these monsters, Ryouma joins the fight... and is split open like Kyoto.

Ryouma's samurai heart was able to protect his friends, but it was not able to protect him. Or so he thought.

Comments
I sat on Samurai Man for months, generally assuming this would be another samurai action manga. I thought Ryouma would be a typical teen hero - quiet good-looking and very talented. Alternatively, maybe he would be one of those bad-boys, always itching for a sword fight. Shonen Champion Comics titles tend to fall into certain patterns, much like Shonen Jump titles, so I did not feel the motivation to read another title like that.

Boy is my face red. I was almost all wrong. Yes, this manga has its share of standard shonen devices; however, there is something about Ryouma that has pulled me in.

Characters like Ryouma always get me excited. Yes, they are often placed in stories that are derivative and at times shallow. However, Serizawa has created a character with flair and confidence that is perfect for this type of story. In many manga like this, the character that ends up gaining special abilities through an encounter or accident is usually the timid meek type. More often than not, the new strength inside them ultimately leads to the character finding their own inner strength. With Ryouma Serizawa is able to quickly move the plot since his main character already strong, though his strengths do not come in conventional forms. His intelligence and cunning is electric and that works perfectly when he transitions from normal high school student to god-like warrior.

The rest of the writing is taken from many standard concepts of manga. Ryouma is immediately caught in a love triangle where his rival takes pleasure in stealing everything Ryouma desires. The trauma is so great heaven and earth literally split apart. Moreover, Ryouma gains his strength through an encounter with a dying being that decides to place its strength in his teenage body. All of these are standard devices used repeatedly in shonen and shojo manga. Even how new enemies just seem to hunt Ryouma down once he gains god-like strength is old. Nevertheless, the way Ryouma handles all of this is really refreshing. He tends to think his way through everything often fooling his opponents and his new partner within (and the reader) along the way. He has a flair to him that is not really cocky or pretentious. Serizawa tries to make him confident enough that he seems strong-willed and capable enough to handle himself, and that is important for the story is then allowed to move at a slightly quicker pace.

The different twist on popular genre got me interested, but what really has me hooked is the cast. Angst, honor and friendship all wrapped into a tight package, I almost wish this series was not so short cause I worry I will not get a chance to get to know the other characters in that short period. But given how quickly I got to know Ryouma, the next two volumes should be more than enough time.

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