Zatch Bell (aka: Konjiki no Gash!!) Vol. #02 -

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Mania Grade: NA

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  • Art Rating: B
  • Packaging Rating: B-
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 7.95
  • Pages: 192
  • ISBN: 1-59116-588-1
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Zatch Bell (aka: Konjiki no Gash!!) Vol. #02

By Jarred Pine     October 31, 2005
Release Date: September 30, 2005

Zatch Bell (aka: Konjiki no Gash!!) Vol.#02
© Viz Media

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Makoto Raiku
Translated by:David Ury
Adapted by:

What They Say
For his 14th birthday, Kiyomaro received a bizarre present from his father--a strange little boy named Zatch Bell. Zatch's mission is to reform Kiyomaro's bad attitude and help him make friends, but Kiyomaro soon discovers that there's more to Zatch than his dad ever realized. Zatch is a demon child with magic powers that are unleashed by reading spells from a mysterious red book… and there are 99 other kids like Zatch who must fight to become the king of the demon world! As the battles with the other little demons intensify, Kiyomaro's loyalty to Zatch is put to the test. And what will happen when the red book is stolen?

The Review
Zatch Bell continues to be a title that I enjoy for its story, but am left frustrated due to VIZ’s mishandling of the title.

VIZ uses the same cover artwork as the Japanese tankoubon. The colors look okay, a little blurred, but I really do not care for the English logo and the pink border that also wraps over the spine and back cover. The print reproduction is pretty much on par with most other VIZ releases. The packaging is pretty bare bones, with only a couple small extras. For those that pick up the book early enough, there is an exclusive CCG card attached to the back of the book.

Raiku-sensei’s character designs are a little odd, with their slightly disproportionate bodies and big, grinning faces, but his artwork is pretty clean. There are a lot of over-exaggerated facial expressions, many times with Zatch crying, that add a nice dramatic effect along with the action lines. The battle sequences are quite explosive and well illustrated. There is also a good amount of background art for a weekly shounen title.

SFX have been translated and retouched. The retouch looks decent, there is some boxing going on and I’m not a big fan of the fonts that are used. The translation reads clearly and I do like how Zatch’s personality was kept intact. There are a few changes in this title from the original Japanese version: Kiyomaro was shortened to Kiyo, Suzume is now called Suzy, and mamono was changed to mamodo. Mamodo means nothing, but from what I know mamono loosely translated to demon, but I’m not sure if that was the reason for the change.

Contents (Watch out spoilers ahead):
As the story progresses through each mamodo battle in this volume, Kiyo goes through some growth and development that changes him from being the pompous, arrogant brat into more of a hero and someone that can be respected. Kiyo’s attitude rubbed me the wrong way in the first volume, so his growth here is a positive one. I even found myself rooting for him by book’s end—quite a big turnaround. A lot of Kiyo’s metamorphosis can be attributed to his increased bond between Zatch. During their battle with Sherry and Brago, Kiyo realizes what Zatch has been sacrificing for him and decides that he must also stand up next to Zatch to help him fight his destiny. He gets absolutely pummeled by the Gravire attacks, but still stands up with an unbeatable will. This is the moment where Kiyo and Zatch begin to really come together as a single unit.

In future battles, Kiyo teaches Zatch how to efficiently target their attacks by pointing with his finger and yelling “SET!” before speaking the Zaker command. Kiyo even begins to show compassion during their battle with Lori and Kolulu, a mamodo who was forced to fight by having an alternate personality injected into her. When her command is spoken, she turns from cute girl into a steel clawed, homicidal wolverine that slices up anything that moves. It is Kiyo’s compassion that helps her stop from inflicting anymore pain on the people around here.

Aside from the mamodo battles, there is also quite a bit of very funny, silly humor interjected at the right moments to keep events nice and balanced. A couple chapters follow Kiyo as he recovers in a hospital where he thinks he loses the red book. In this short story, there are no mamodo battles but rather just a more humorous romp as Suzy, Zatch, and Kiyo go on the search for the missing book. I also got a kick out of the running gag about Zatch being tortured at the park by the mean little girl Naomi. And who could not laugh at Zatch’s “new friend”, Volcan 300, who is made from a snack box and disposable chopsticks by Kiyo in order to get Zatch off his back. “How old is Volcan?”, asks Zatch innocently to which Kiyo devilishly replies, “Five minutes old!”. A good deal of bizarre, silly humor that I definitely found myself chuckling at quite often.

The most frustrating aspect of reading this volume is knowing that a story that I enjoyed has suffered from at least one of the more idiotic edits I have ever witnessed. There are a couple panels during the hospital story where Zatch is supposed to have a syringe and scalpel sticking out of his head as a visual gag. These protruding items have been removed. Now, I can maybe understand this edit if this story was aimed at 3 year olds where maybe the editors were worried about these toddlers emulating Zatch. But this manga is rated Teen. I’m sorry Viz, but I don’t think you have to worry about teenagers running around with surgical instruments self-installed in their head. Of course there are plenty of other panels in the book with Kiyo dripping blood, Zatch getting impaled by a tree or claws, as well as other more violent events. Viz, stop being foolish.

Zatch Bell is a title that is going to frustrate and annoy, even though I do enjoy the story so far. It’s a shounen title that has that different Shounen Sunday style about it that I like, but the small, nonsensical edits really hamper my reading experience as they do affect the story a little by removing some of the visual gags and loosing some of the humor. It’s too bad because I did really enjoy seeing Kiyo’s growth and his strengthening bond with Zatch. An entertaining volume, but VIZ needs to get a grip on its editing policy.


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