Worst Vol. #02 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Text/Translatin Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: All
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 196
  • ISBN: 1-56970-982-3
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Worst Vol. #02

By Eduardo M. Chavez     December 22, 2004
Release Date: December 04, 2004

Worst Vol.#02
© Digital Manga Publishing

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Takahashi Hiroshi
Translated by:Naomi Kokubo/Steven Hoffman
Adapted by:

What They Say
What They Say:
Hisashi Amachi waits for no man, especially when he fights dirty and whips through all of the contenders of the Freshmen's Battle. It's finally down to the last guy, Hana. It is an uphill struggle for Hana Tsukishima as he faces this ruthless cold-blooded killer and it's up to him to put Amachi down. But can he do it again? And if that wasn't enough, he still has to prove himself to the different gangs in school as well as taking on an unknown sleazeball on campus, who's might is unmatched and undetermined. It's a never-ending struggle for the future self-proclaimed boss of Suzuran High School to get to the top. Who said Hana's dream of ruling the school was going to be an easy ride?

The Review
With the handful of titles Digital Manga has out, I have to say they might be the best in the industry in regards to packaging. Worst is a good example one of the better manga productions available in North America. This series is printed right-to-left in an A5 size GN wrapped in a dust jacket. Inside the printing is very good with sharp inking, void of tone issues, and because of the size free of alignment problems. On the dust jacket, there is a portrait of the main character, Tsukishima Hana. The image is also on the cover of the GN, but in black and white as is done by a majority of Japanese publishers. I like the way DMP incorporated kana into the logo. I have noticed a few more studios do this and I hope it is a trend that will continue. DMP kept the original volume header and all of the chapter headers intact. At the end of the GN, there is short ato-gaki, a one-page preview for volume two, which is followed by ads for their How to Draw Manga series.

Takahashi's art is very tight and definitely fits this genre well. At first glance with the hairdos, piercings, tats, scars, and threads the cast of Worst looks more like twenty-somethings instead of fifteen-year-old kids. These kids are huge, ripped and the hard knock life has beaten them old. In the yanki manga scene, this is the standard. There are still some with overcoats and high pants, but as hip-hop and punk styles become increasingly popular those looks become more common in manga as well. Dreads, sweat suits, goatees mix in with pompadours, skinheads, and school uniforms with ease and style. Character designs are all over the map. In a way, it reminds me of how Inoue handled Slam Dunk with very different body type, face designs and styles that matches their respective personalities.

Backgrounds are pretty nice and they are used often. It is hard to find a shonen title that uses them as much, for they often do not do that much to support the writing in many "goal driven" shonen titles. This is more of a "character driven" title (even though Hana appears to have a goal from the start) where character roles and social status are quickly defined, even though the characters themselves have not been fleshed out too much. The layout is pretty simple but it does the job. There is good deal of variety perspective and point of view and it really shows in Takahashi's fighting scenes where fists and head-butts are flying from all over the place: first person, third person, etc. Fun.

The translation for Worst is solid. While there were at least a pair of moments where the dialogue did not flow, and the awkward way they have translated middle school names did take the grade down a bit. Positives include honorifics, appropriate usage of slang, subbing signs and very good use of cultural notes in gutters.

SFX might get some attention as DMP handled these in a unique way. They are all subbed using a small font as not to compromise Takahashi's art. The way they translated some of SFX might confuse some readers. Some of the translations are literal so in some situations the kana for "mogu" will be "mogu" instead of "chew." But the translation would be reversed in other situations. Readers familiar with raw FX might not have a problem, but having to translate a translation might annoy some.

Contents: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first day of the Suzuran High School freshmen battle is over. Now there are only eight young men left. Tsukishima Hana made it through with lightning speed, destroying his competition before they got a chance to land a punch. If Hana keeps up the pace, he is on track to make his wish come true... to rule Suzuran High under one flag.

He has plenty of work to do from here on:

First, he has to win this tournament. The other seven remaining students have histories in their respective schools. They range from legends in the making to freaks that love to fight. The local odds-makers are ready to make some money off this thing and the upper-classmen cannot wait to start recruiting to improve their own factions. There is a lot riding on this; for Hana this will be a great way to network at a new school.

Second, Hana will have to make a team/faction/gang of his own. If he does not have people to rule, a revolution is not possible. He needs to organize and give his leadership the support it needs to command respect and grow within this community. In the first volume, his actions spoke for him to his new family. They will have to continue that if he wants to make the student body his own.

Finally, he needs to know his rivals. As a freshman, he would naturally be at the bottom of the totem pole. There will be second-years and third-years that will be waiting to knock him down. They will actually rather contain someone like Hana, hoping he could be groomed into a position of power. Hana would rather take it all as soon as possible. No offense.

There is a long road ahead for Hana-kun but something in the air is saying he might be capable of all of this and so much more.

I am pretty sure I have said this before, but when reading shonen manga all I expect to take from it is a unique journey with a dash of character development, a good dose of action and a healthy helping of comedy. I would expect some fun art, fast-paced writing and a lead character that often grows into his role. In the world of shonen manga how the character gets to his goal is crucial. There are exceptions; Rurouni Kenshin (at least for the first six volumes) and City Hunter come to mind for titles that do not fit the norm. Worst uses the established pattern for success but it does it with style and a sense of deception. On the surface, it seems to move slowly, hardly focusing on the main character at all. This is deceiving as Takahashi is creating mysticism around Hana that soon spreads around town like wildfire. By allowing those who meet Hana along the way to create his legend Takahashi makes his character bigger than life. This is contrary to Hana's nature, which is humble, honorable and a lot more calculating than he shows. Unlike most yanki characters, Hana makes efforts to be multi-lateral. He is a dove most of the time, but when he has to take action, he is a beast. So far, his actions have defined him in this story, but soon that will have to change, as his ascension will force him to be more vocal. Takahashi appears to have set him up that way to control the pacing of this story. There has been very little time since the beginning, but that has not hindered the flow or readability of this well directed title.

Right now, I think Digital Manga can do no wrong. They have done a great job with Ikebukuro West Gate Park (a fun and sexy seinen mystery title) and with Worst, they need for yanki manga has been filled perfectly. Great writing, fun action, good comedy and simple but elegant packaging should meets anyone's tastes but to me Worst is a class of manga I have long been waiting for - not so stupid shonen. Cannot wait for more.


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