Tower of the Future Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B

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  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: CMX
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 1401208142
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Tower of the Future Vol. #01

By Jarred Pine     June 23, 2006
Release Date: November 02, 2005

Tower of the Future Vol.#01

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Hiwatari Saki
Translated by:Glenn Rich
Adapted by:

What They Say
Matsuyuki Takeru could not have anticipated the decidedly different turn his life has taken. After his mother's death, life continued at a reasonably normal pace " he studied hard for exams, played fantasy role-playing games, even fell in love. But things began to change when he discovered a half-sister he didn't know about. A strange boy started appearing, claiming to be a warrior reborn who must fight an epic battle against forces of evil! When fantasy becomes reality, will every choice he makes affect the outcome?

The Review
The first volume of Tower of the Future definitely succeeds in doing what all first volumes should achieve--grab the reader's interest and feed them with potential.

While the horribly average logo could use some work, CMX seems to finally be moving away from the cluttered cover designs into cleaner ones that are free from company logos and other needless elements. The print reproduction is decent, a little dark in spots and no color plates are used with the opening pages. One item of frustration is the white border seems to pop up every once in a while. Not sure if that is how the title was printed originally, but even so, it still looks tacky. No extras are included, but Hiwatari Saki's free-talk sections in the side bars are always enjoyable and offer some nice insight into the story.

Much like PSME, the art style takes a more realistic approach; maybe even more so this time around. There may not be a lot of variety in character designs, but there is a good amount of emotion and personality coming through. Pages have a good mixture of linear and more free-flowing panel layouts. There is not a whole lot of background art, which is most of the time filled in with the standard shoujo screentones or flowery prints.

SFX are translated with overlays, which look better than some other efforts I have seen from CMX. The English script reads quite well, although there are a small handful of errors. The most grievous is that Hiwatari's previous work, Please Save My Earth, is translated as "Save My World" in the free-talk sections. Seeing how this title has been available in English from VIZ Media for a while now, it's a bit of a head-scratcher. I also noticed one spelling error ("sprits", pg. 8) and a missing "'s" ("Hyoju mother", pg. 134).

Contents (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Matsuyuki Takeru is very much your average 15-year old boy. He'd rather dedicate time to his hobbies, writing fantasy RPG game scenarios, than study for high school exams. His loving mother constantly, yet lovingly, pushes him and wants him to study up on his English speaking skills. He's had his heart broken once already, but already has his sights set on another girl who has captured his interest. All in all, life in Takeru's world is very average, practically perfect, and well, quite boring.

That mundaneness is probably the main reason why he likes to escape to his fantasy world so much. But as one grows from adolescent into those older teen years, that fantasy world begins to change. We've all been there as teens; that moment when the adult world begins to shatter that all too perfect vision of your adolescent world you had created for yourself. For Takeru, that moment comes in the form of tragedy, revealing a hidden family secret--Takeru has an older half-sister that might become a part of his now disillusioned family unit.

The family in crisis setup may be a bit derivative, but Hiwatari-sensei so far keeps it from getting too bogged down in melodramatic soap drama that seems to be a common pitfall with this type of material. Much of the success could be attributed to the slower pacing that you may be familiar with if you've read her previous work, Please Save My Earth. When the tragedy hits, there is enough development to allow the reader to sympathize with Takeru and his family. There is also no rush on getting past the tragedy, which could have left the reader feeling as if the tragedy was a cheap plot device. A good amount of issues that result from loss of a loved one or changing family dynamics are covered well enough to keep up the interest level.

While the familial soap drama is handled nicely, the aspect that really serves this first volume well is its uncertainty. While it may not be the type of engrossing mystery ala a Monster, there are enough elements introduced in this first volume that keeps the reader guessing at just where this story is heading. It's a hard technique to keep balanced without leaving the reader just plain confused or overwhelmed, but Hiwatari-sensei seems to have complete control over the script (despite her claims at being the contrary in her free-talk section). With Takeru's game scenarios coming true in his own life and the frequent visits by an unknown, bizarre young boy who seems to know everything going on in Takeru's life, the story begins to develop another layer that is quite intriguing.

With debut volumes in a series, the most I usually ask for is a hook; something that will grab my attention and give me a reason to keep on reading. With Hiwatari Saki's Tower of the Future, creator of the shoujo hit Please Save My Earth, that hook is uncertainty. While the story of family in conflict gives the manga some semblance of structure, it's the mysterious other small elements that are introduced that really peeked my interest in finding out just where this supposed fantasy story will go. The slower pacing also really allows for the reader to become engrossed into the story for the entire volume.

The first volume of Tower of the Future definitely succeeds in doing what all first volumes should achieve--grab the reader's interest and feed them with potential. Definitely looking forward to how this one plays out.


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