Toto! Vol. #03 -

Manga Review

Mania Grade: A

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  • Art Rating: A+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translation Rating: A
  • Age Rating: 13 and Up
  • Released By: Del Rey
  • MSRP: 10.95
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 978-0345506627
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Toto!

Toto! Vol. #03

Toto! Vol. #03 Manga Review

By Ben Leary     June 07, 2010
Release Date: November 25, 2008

Toto! Vol. #03
© Del Rey

The journey continues, and Kakashi and friends find out there might be more to the world than they ever dreamed.

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Yuko Osada
Translation: Elina Ishikawa
Adaptation: Elina Ishikawa

What They Say
Kakashi's father was the world's greatest explorer - until his fatal final quest. Now Kakashi is determined to follow in his father's footsteps and sets out on a big adventure of his own. From facing down a gang of thievse to protecting a magic puppy from the evil Imperial Army, Kakashi has proven himself his father's son.But now his journey will take a surprising turn!

The Review!

The previous volume had action aplenty, and the first half of this one thunders along like the train it takes place on top of. The fighting and rescuing in the city of locomotives have been seen to, so there's only one thing left for Kakashi and his friends: busting their way out. A subtle or oblique approach to the problem would be totally unsuitable, of course. That's not the Toto! way. I remarked in my last review how much I enjoyed seeing the heroes attack the enemy headquarters head-on, as opposed to the sneakery and cunning that you almost always see in similar situations. This time the same method is used. This time the results are even better. They are therefore much too good to spoil; suffice it to say that Osada has found a way to give his characters a victory and a victory parade at the same time. "Stroke of genius" is a phrase far too easy for reviewers to throw around. But this is the real thing. It left me absolutely in awe.
The next scene kept me there. The time has come for a showdown between the wielders of two accessories: the dog bracelet vs. the snake rings. The fight that breaks out atop the speeding train simply wowed me. I got wowed because the artist is just about impossibly good at what he's doing in this story. It showcases some of the most extraordinary action art I've seen in ages. The action scenes have an honest-to-goodness, genuine exhiliration about them. They have the kind of feeling that the old adventure serials were trying to capture but almost never did. Every panel pulses with life. And in the middle of it all there's one momentary flash of the same thrill of discovery that the story began with; that old but always young sensation, the quicksilver gladness of new things. The spirit of adventure is still alive, because Osada knows the secret of keeping it alive: make these glimpses rare and brief. If they ever become common enough or last long enough to satisfy us, we will lose our appetite for them. That is how he always keeps us wanting more. It is a lesson that dozens of his colleagues would do well to learn.
Before the dust of the supercharged battle has cleared, Kakashi and company are forced, for the second half of the book, to take what is either a detour on their journey or the necessary next step. Regardless of which it is, it serves to start filling in the blanks of the world situation and filling in the blanks of what great deeds are waiting to be done. The jouney to see the world is shaping up to be a quest, hopefully without losing its original objective in the process.
The focus in this segment shifts momentarily to Dorothy, as she has to demonstrate her martial arts abilities in order to be allowed to proceed on the adventure. There are some good scenes of determined training, and suspense builds for the qualifying bout, but there's less fun to be had here than in the first part of the book. Don't get the wrong idea. It's still very, very good, and most action manga can only dream of reaching this level of excitement; I only meant that the second half doesn't reach the Himalayan heights of what has come before it.
In Summary:
I was overwhelmed by how good Toto! was at the start, but I must admit I had a hard time beliving that Osada could keep it up. I think many readers would feel the same way. A reader of any experience would love the first volume as much as anyone else, but he would love it with misgivings. Could anything really live up to so great a beginning? He feels himself at the start of a glorious journey. Yet once the journey is under way something has got to happen. The possiblities evoked by the map and the journal and the gazes at the horizon have got to become real places and people and things. And when they become real can they possibly be as good as the possibilities? But somehow they are that good. I've been doubting for three volumes now; I think it's high time that I began to trust the phenomenal talent on display in Toto!, and the narrative sense of its author. He has created a world where anything can happen. This world is vast. This world is an amazing place. Chesterton once said that the world would never starve from want of wonders, only from want of wonder. As long as Kakashi and Dorothy are in it, the world of Toto! will never even have a chance to get peckish.
(Special extras after the story include a rough sketch gallery, translation notes, and a preview for the next volume.)


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