Wednesday, 25 November 2009

The Trouble with Manga: Part 2


After yesterdays showings of what I’ve got to look forward to in anime I had to go into a massive binge of awesome anime clips.

Ah... Gaogaigar... Banish this darkness....

Hmm? Where was I? Oh yeah, things that are actually good in Manga.

Liar Game

“Nao Kanzaki, an honest college student, receives 100 million yen (about $1,000,000) and an invitation to participate in something called the "Liar Game Tournament". When Nao is easily tricked by her opponent, she turns to ex-convict and genius swindler Shinichi Akiyama for help out of desperation to get the money back.”
There is so much to like about this series.

Our main character Nao is a kind and foolishly honest person, which is why it’s a tragedy she’s gotten caught up in the cut-throat tournament of Liar Game. The idea behind the game is that you use the money loaned to you in a number of games in order to steal other contestant’s money. The problem of course is the people behind the liar game expect that money back, so when you lose your put into a massive debt you can never pay off... And it’s never said what happens to losers of the liar game (But a few rather unpleasant fates are hinted at). However if you win you can expect a big pay off.

It’s a wonderful piece because it explores how far normal people are willing to go in order to con one another. You see some seriously dickish moves by some people, but before you start hating on them too much you’re reminded that they are just normal people with normal fears... and you have to ask, forced between a rock and a hard place... can you really say you wouldn’t do the same?

The characters are very well done, really making you care for people like Nao and Akiyama.

Now if it was only just good characters it would perhaps be an average one... but what sets this manga apart are the actual ‘Liar Games’. Each one is very clever, with alot of thought behind them. The key to beating these of course is to never play by the rules, and to really think outside the box when approaching them. Whenever the trick to winning is finally revealed you’re like “Oh that’s so obvious- Jesus Christ! That was so complicated! How the hell was I ever gonna work that out?”

I have yet to work out the trick for some of the bigger games... and alot of the time I have to re-read some of it just to make sense of it. The answers are not obvious or easy, there really is alot of thought placed in these games.

Break Blade

It’s a manga about giant robots. A kingdom is under attack and they have a secret mech that only one person can pilot.

That’s all very cliché, it’s probably a pass right?

I mean... Let’s see... I guess the setting’s kinda interesting, the characters are approachable and relatable... The relationships between characters are fascinating I suppose... The mech combat makes sense... the political plots are deliciously nefarious...

Yeah you should probably skip-

Holy shit this is good! I can’t remember the last time I read something that ticked almost every single box for me.

“ Rygart Arrow is the only one in his world who lacks the inherent ability to power up quartz, the energy source that makes all of the machines run. Nevertheless, he's pretty well connected. The King and Queen of his country of Krisna happen to be old college friends. But so is Zess, the guy who is leading the army of a neighboring kingdom in an attack on Krisna.

How did it comes to this? There's little time to ponder the implications as an army in giant, mechanized battle suits attacks. Arrow just feels like he's in the way - until he comes across a powerful, ancient mech that no one has yet to be able to figure out how to run. But his natural affinity for the suit's operating mechanism may just turn Arrow into the most important player of all.”

I love how instead of being ‘special’ with his own gift, Arrow instead is cursed with being... normal. In a world where machines are almost essential for everyday living, Arrow has had to grow up without the connivance's everyone else has had. While it has made him compassionate it hasn’t made him into a ‘strong’ character that never gives up, he is well aware of his own weakness’s and knows when to call it quits.

I love their approach to the mech battles, especially when our main man takes the stage. He almost has no idea what to do. That is so refreshing, as usually the main character just knows how to pilot mechs despite never being in one before. At least in this you can understand if he has some basic knowledge about it, since he did study in a military collage. But more times than not his mech gets shot to pieces, but luckily the frame of the mech appears to be semi bullet proof so it hasn’t broken down completely yet.

Hands down this is the best thing I’m reading at the moment, and if you’re looking for a well rounded and interesting story you can’t do much better then Break Blade.

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