Worst Vol. #03 - Mania.com

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Released By: Digital Manga Publishing
  • MSRP: 12.95
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 1-56970-981-5
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Worst Vol. #03

By Eduardo M. Chavez     April 08, 2005
Release Date: March 01, 2005

Worst Vol.#03
© Digital Manga Publishing

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

What They Say

What turned out to be a small scuffle in an alleyway is now brewing into an all out war between the two schools of Suzuran and Hohsen. Guys from both high schools are found beaten up all over the streets, rumors of a school-to-school fight spreads, and gangs within their own schools are setting aside their differences and coming together for a greater cause. What more can there be? Well, you also have secret plans of toppling the leader of the Hohsen and vengeful thugs from both sides running amok adding more fuel to the fire. But with Hana and his brothers around, they are not going to stand for any of it! Add all that up and you got dynamite ready to explode!
It's a FIGHT! - In the cruelest sense of the word.
It's a FIGHT!! And Everyone's all come out to play!
It's a Fight!! And somebody's gonna get hurt!

The Review
With the handful of titles Digital Manga has out, I have to say they might are truly amongst 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. On the dust jacket, there is a profile of the main character, Tsukishima Hana, on yellow background. 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.
Inside the printing is very good with sharp inking, void of tone issues, and because of the size it is completely free of alignment problems. DMP kept the original volume header and all of the chapter headers intact. At the end of the GN there is a one-page preview for volume four, which is followed by ads for the How to Draw Manga series, Bambi and Her Pink Gun, Tenka Musu, Twilight of the Dark Master and Ikebukuro West Gate Park.

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 guys in their twenties 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, facial designs and styles that matches their respective personalities. One thing I just started to notice is how Takahashi SD's faces tend to devolve from hard to cool to normal to comical and ultimately primitive. Detail is lost as the hard wall comes down and jaws tend to stick out more turning human faces into something almost reptilian. It is really funny but rather appropriate.
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)
"Sleep long, sleep well! Only to awaken in Hell"
“Sleep long, sleep well! SLEEP WELL! Only to awaken in HELL!”
Peace is what most people want. The youth in Worst want peace, but they want it under one flag. On top of that they want the entire town united under one flag. If going to war, even amongst one's brothers, must be done to achieve that some are willing to through away the bonds of brotherhood. In Hohsen High School there are those who are on the second tier of the local power structure who want to gain power anyway they can. Through numbers they have been able to take advantage of a weak leadership to stroke the fires of war. They have been plotting, building up a core of members that are capable of what some would consider a coup, but they would call a revolution. To these young men traditions are meaningless. History to them is all in the past. They do not care about the failures made before nor do they care about the relationships that they did not make themselves. For this gang the ends justify the means, so if they encounter a few problems along the way victory will be worth whatever losses.
Tsukishima Hana cannot. First and foremost he is a brother, then he is a classmate and then he is a citizen, therefore anyone who is against his family or his school is against him. Up to now Hana-chan has been fighting to prove his skill. He has had to show his new brothers and classmates his strengths and his weaknesses in order to gain respect. Now all of that has changed. He is fighting to protect what is his. Now I know he has yet to have actually gained control over his neighborhood or even his school. The kid does not even have a gang to call his own, but he is staking his claim to all of that right now. He will not let anyone take what he shares with his friends and unless they can take him out no one should stand in his way. As the war escalates in the streets, one by one the heads of Suzuran fall into Hohsen's traps. Hohsen now has their goal in sight, but after all of their planning they forgot one thing... the all freshman gang called the Hana Family and it's defacto head, Tsukishima Hana. Hana's gonna introduce himself to the rest of town. His fists will make sure he is never forgotten again.

This is the moment I have been waiting for. Every good yanki manga has an arc like this: the first turf war. Generally, these tend to be a great way to introduce new characters and expand on the world the manga is set in. In one of my favorites Shonan Junai Gumi (by Fujiwara Tohru/GTO) the first battle set the standard that the lead characters Danma Ryuuji and Onizuka Eikichi had to live up to. They were already tough kids, but now they were also going to get a reputation for being a certain type of tough. Hana is about to get his chance. His personality is that of the best leaders, one where he uses his strengths when truly needed, instead of for intimidation. He never forces the issue, wishing to get the most out of every battle along the way.
What this volume is really about is power - how to gain power and how to maintain power. Starting from the first page there are characters that are trying to find their roles if there were to come to power. There are those who are trying to gain it by force. Others want to gain it through what they consider honorable methods. Of course while all of this plotting is happening we also get to see those currently in power who are scrambling to keep it. By showing each perspective and then even presenting how power was claimed by the current regime, Takahashi is trying to give readers a glimpse at the future. There will always be transitions of power, but each of those handovers is a story in itself. Will Hana get to the top?! We now know how he'll get there. The politics and the fights that will get him there should make for a pretty entertaining ride.


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