Direction: Right to Left
By: Kohta Hirano
Publisher: Dark Horse Manga
Genre: Fantasy, Seinen
Imagine a world of magic, full of elves and hobbits and dragons and orcs. Inside this world of magic and wonder there is a great war being waged, using warriors from human history as chess pieces in a bloody, endless battle. Hirano’s new concept gathers famous warriors throughout history and puts them on both sides of good and evil, and then turned them loose in a bloody melee of madness.
This volume has taken me ages to get around to and it’s purely because I’m not a fan of the manga-ka art style. I picked this up purely by accident on it’s release, I’ve finally got around to reading it and found myself rather pleasantly surprised.
I still find I’m not a fan of Kohta’s art style and to be honest i can’t really explain why. there’s just something about the style that’s a bit off, perhaps the fact all of the characters seem to be drawn with a slightly insane look and feel to them. I’ve noticed this in his other works as well and it’s always put me off.
In this series though i found i actually liked the art style. I literally went into the volume expecting to write a review slamming it because of the art style, and i can’t do that anymore *pout*. Admittedly i do find some of the characters a bit off, because of that slightly insane vibe in the art, but in this series it matches the story well.
I was also glad to see the inclusion of characters who don’t look insane, such as the elves. They had a great design to them and a great vibe coming from them. As the volume progressed i really got to like them and loved how things went regarding them in the end.
The story is where i found myself really getting into things though. Archetype characters taken from history, and given a bit of twist. For example, Joanne de Arc driven insane because of the betrayal she suffers, an interesting take on Oda Nobunaga for another.
Over the course of the volume we get introduced to numerous characters from real life history and a sort of ‘what if’ scenario after they have died.
The actual amount of story we get in this volume isn’t that much, rather it seems to be stage setting, character introduction, and introducing the running theme.
There are a couple of issues though that do make me wonder about how the story will go. Firstly, according to dark Horse this is a mini-series, which means it will generally be six volumes or under, and usually around three or four. Given how many characters are introduced and set up in the first volume i don’t really see how it can all be handled properly in a mini series.
Secondly, because of the number of characters involved it’s going to be really hard to do them all justice. In fact that’s hard to do even in longer series, and what usually happens is that some if not all of the characters end up feeling weak and shallow.
Dark Horse did a pretty good job on their release for this volume. They get a huge thumbs up from me for including the colour pages, something that is usually removed from western releases of manga. Their choice of fonts for the elves language really lends itself well to the speaking of a different language, and has a good feel to it.
I like the way they handled the SFX, not replacing them but simply adding a small translation next to them. I think this is a better way of handling SFX than editing them out and adding english SFX. Those tend to spoil the feel of story I’ve found, not to mention look out of place since they weren’t there originally.
Although i liked the first volume i can’t really recommend it, i want to wait and see how the story progresses over the next couple of volumes before i can say if it’s worth buying. Though as i said, i did find myself surprised by how much i enjoyed this volume.