Mania Grade: B+
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- Art Rating: A-
- Packaging Rating: A
- Text/Translatin Rating: C+
- Age Rating: 16 & Up
- Released By: ComicsOne
- MSRP: 9.95
- Pages: 208
- ISBN: 1-58899-071-0
- Size: B6
- Orientation: Left to Right
Sarai Vol. #1
By Mike Dungan
April 03, 2004
Release Date: March 01, 2001
Translated by:Alex Mizuno, Dominic Mah
Adapted by:What They Say
Genetic disorders have destroyed the future. Among humankind's remnants, teenage warrior maids like Sarai fight for honor and survival in a land where no one lives past their 17th year.The Review
The Review: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With Sarai, Masahiro Shibata gives us a rather bleak look at the year 2041. The earth has changed considerably. Virtually all civilization as we know it has disappeared. At or around a person's 17th birthday, genetic disorders swiftly overtake them and turn them into monsters. Some older people who predate the diseases still exist, but their numbers are rapidly dwindling. In the first chapter, we are introduced to Sarai Kannagi, a 15 year old mercenary battle maid. She has been hired by 56 year old Alcos Furio Castanzo and his 24 year old daughter, Vilna Castanzo. They live in a mansion and control the only source of pure water for miles around. The water apparently also has preservative powers which hold the transformation into a monster at bay. Once arriving at the mansion, Sarai is attacked by a powerful fighter. She destroys him quickly, but in a way that can't be seen clearly by the people watching. The fighter was a test by Castanzo to test her abilities. Sarai discovers another battle maid has already been employed, Flicker. Flicker and Sarai don't exactly get along, but are forced to work together to protect the Castanzos and their water supply.
Both Castanzos have a predilection for young women, and the two maids are put to work in the bedroom as well. Sarai, being purebred Japanese, is a very rare commodity, but when the elder Castanzo sees her back, he is immediately disgusted. We don't see what it is he sees, but it's enough for him to whip her for turning him off.
Meanwhile, Tilga, a young man we met at the beginning of the book, is organizing a revolution to take over the mansion and give the water to the townsfolk. His sister works at the mansion and leaks him information. Unfortunately, her activities are discovered. The attack on the mansion is now a trap for the townsfolk. Sarai and Flicker discover that the water isn't the only thing that's keeping the Castanzos from transforming. Children from the countryside are being rounded up by Vilna and disappearing. Sarai and Flicker, after discovering the dying body of Tilga's sister in a very gruesome scene, aid the townsfolk, bringing an end to the Castanzo's reign of terror.
The second half of the book is the beginning of a new story. Sarai and Flicker are put to work in a nunnery doing general repairs. The nunnery has one old woman, the 63 year old Mother Bujold Wistable, and the 18 year old Sister Richelle. We learn that Richelle hired the maids to protect the old woman. The natural death of a human is so rare, she's determined to give the old woman that privilege, as well as show the villagers what it looks like. Unfortunately, some sort of monster has been menacing the village, hence the hiring of Sarai and Flicker.
Meanwhile, we're introduced to Michelle, a beautiful 18 year old woman who runs a bar with a young boy named Manuela. Michelle's bar has a secondary purpose. People who realize they're about to undergo the transformation come to the bar to have their picture taken and put on the wall before they leave to die. Barosso is a 24 year old priest who sells a drug that's kept him human for several years now. Though a man with a cruel streak, he genuinely cares for Michelle and is her lover. Some townsfolk kidnap both Michelle and Barosso and take them to the nunnery, where their paths cross with that of Sarai and Flicker. The story ends on a cliffhanger with the maids captured.
Shibata's art is impressively lush, considering what a bleak world he illustrates. Detailed backgrounds and landscapes flesh out the story. Speaking of flesh, there is plenty of nudity, including two sex scenes. In typical shonen fashion, the women are beautiful and the battles are violent. Sarai's strong and possessed of tremendous power, but where that power comes from remains a mystery. The panel layouts are very well done, allowing the story to flow smoothly.
ComicsOne's presentation is a mixed bag. On the up side is the dustcover which is included with the book. The art on the front, back and inside is identical to the Japanese books. The logo is in English, but very similar to the original katakana title. The book is flipped to read left to right, and all sound effects have been retouched into English. On the down side, the art reproduction leaves a lot to be desired. Several pages show a heavy moiring effect in the screentones, and some pages are simply dull and blurry.Comments
Sarai seems to be a "love it or hate it" sort of book. The story is bleak, the panty shots gratuitous, and the violence can be stomach turning. On the other hand, the mystery of Sarai and her struggle to live a life worth living under such extreme conditions can be very compelling. Another thing to consider is that Sarai is an ongoing series in Japan with 11 volumes out at the time of this review, but ComicsOne stopped publishing the title after volume 8, leaving it incomplete.