Testarotho Vol. #02 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 17 & Up
  • Released By: CMX
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 172
  • ISBN: 140120743x
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Testarotho Vol. #02

By Jarred Pine     January 20, 2006
Release Date: November 02, 2005

Testarotho Vol.#02

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Sanbe Kei
Translated by:Akira Tsubasa
Adapted by:

What They Say
Converting heretics to the church of Arsenal is a difficult and sometimes deadly task, and Inquisitor Garrincha is the best Neo Arsen has to offer. It's no wonder the man has scores of enemies among non-believers and those faithful to his church. When an entire village of heretics is found dead, Garrincha and his entourage are brutally captured, and he's charged with the massacre. Now, freeing him and clearing his name is up to his fiercely loyal Rotho, led by the gun-slinging Leonedus " but what if he doesn't make it in time?

The Review
It borders on being too big for its britches, but Testarotho continues to be a mildly interesting tale filled with a lot of action and political conspiracies.

The cover features a color illustration of Leonedus with good looking printing that is unfortunately mostly covered by CMX's large banner graphics that they are slowly beginning to remove from their covers. There are 4 color pages this time around and the print reproduction is adequate with a few areas of tone distortion that I could see. Extras include a 2-page manga commentary from the creator and a 1-page preview of the next volume.

This volume was shrink-wrapped with a "Parental Advisory" sticker stuck directly on the cover, which I am not a fan of, and is rated as "Mature". I'm interested in knowing why CMX chose to release this as a mature title since I'm seeing nothing any more graphic or gratuitous than other Teen or Older Teen titles released by other companies. Perhaps CMX is just being overly cautious, but at least it appears they have begun to listen to consumers about leaving their titles uncensored.

The artwork reminds me of Nightow's Trigun or Itoh's Pilgrim Jager, although slightly less angular than both. Character designs feature bearded, brooding men and curvaceous women wearing stylish costumes, giving the story that fantasy appeal. There is a good amount of detail put into the clothing, weapons, backgrounds and such that gives this title a nice style. Action sequences are quite flashy with very fluid panel direction.

SFX are translated by placing imitating English text in the panel with the original art in place. I'm not a fan of this method as I believe it just creates more clutter, and having English text on top of JP SFX without doing a retouch in places just looks messy. Some of the SFX are completely retouched with blocky text. The translation reads clearly and the adaptation is done very well, the tone of the dialog matching the inquisition setting. I did notice one grammar mistake with a missing space between words and an editing error with "months" being used instead of "years" when Garrincha is referring to an inquisition from his past on page 156.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
After reading the first volume of Testarotho, I was left wondering just what sort of direction the story would take with only four volumes total in the series. The backdrop of the religious inquisitions is ripe for some hairy situations and stories, but I just didn't see anything really being accomplished in such a short length of time. As expected, the second volume moves the focus of the story to one central character, Leonedus, as he deals with the struggles of trying to find his way in a world filled with turmoil and conspiring enemies as well as allies.

By focusing on Leonedus, the story does offer some nice moments in flashback mode that reveal the purpose behind Garden, a training organization that takes children and raises assassins equipped with techniques learned from the heretical sects that Arsenal absorbed. It is a very harsh experience for all that go through the training, which helps explain much of Leonedus's brooding attitude and self-destructive tendencies. The dynamics between Leonedus and his adoptive father, the inquisitor Father Garrincha, is also explored a bit in flashback sequences as well. This ties in nicely with the conspiracy building behind the scenes to frame Father Garrincha for a massacre that happened at Bojik village, which is assumed to be the work of Arsenal and incites more anger in the members of Materia. It seems that Father Garrincha is set on trying to abolish the unification in order to stop the bloodshed, an ideal that goes against the majority of members on the Neo Arsen Supreme Council--which Father Garrincha currently is seeking the 12th Apostle nomination for in order to tip the balances of said majority. Essentially what this all means is that secret movers behind the scenes are making sure that Father Garrincha is arrested and executed in the city of Setenburo, leaving it up to Leonedus and the rest of his protectors to rescue the Father and seek refuge.

With all the conspiracies and flashbacks flying around, I can't help but wish that there was more time spaced between events to help even out the pace a bit more and allow time to develop some more interesting characters. The twisted soul of Leonedus reminds of another medieval anti-hero, Guts from Miura's Berserk, who could have definitely developed into someone with a bit more depth if those flashback sequences with him training at Garden could have been stretched out over multiple volumes instead of pages. Instead he comes off as a simple, tragic action hero who now must find the real reason to keep on living and finding out what he wants to fight for after tragedy strikes at the end of this volume. There are a lot of interesting character, stories, relationships, as well as other aspects that could have been explored if there was just more time.

With shorter length manga, it is a hard task to balance interesting stories and characters with a sharp focus sharp in order to keep everything from over spilling. Sanbei Kei tries to keep focus by narrowing the story around Leonedus, but with all the political conspiracies and religious inquisitions going on I find myself really wishing there was more time to bring these other aspects more into the light. Instead a lot of the story and development are now forced upon the reader rather than letting it be discovered more naturally.

However, despite the brevity of some of the events and shallowness of the characters (is there really any point to Capria?), I did mostly enjoy reading this volume of Testarotho because of the unraveling conspiracies behind the scenes as well as the nicely illustrated action sequences. I would not expect events to become very complex in the future, but from where the volume left off with its cliffhanger ending, there should be more violent action sequences ahead featuring all these expert Garden assassins. And perhaps that's all that is to be expected here--a short action manga with an interesting backdrop that focuses solely on one character's will to survive and live amongst the turmoil.


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