Okay, now here’s exactly what I’ve been looking for in Bastard all this time. I wasn’t expecting it to be good. That’s fine. I was expecting it to be a really hardcore and over-the-top-extreme fantasy manga with an obnoxious main character with women falling all over him and a bunch of fantasy animals and stuff for him to slay with ridiculous spells. This is hard to pull off well, because doing it without being self-aware will make the jokes terrible. Somehow, after stopping the last storyline and bringing Dark Schneider back to life, it has become exactly what it was that I thought it was going to be. It’s not serious about anything it does. The art has become less lazy. The swearing has become excessive and hilarious. A variety of monsters are now in every volume, as opposed to one big enemy that engages Dark Schneider in the most boring fight ever.
I’m glad it’s gotten so much more readable. This is one of the top selling series of all time in Japan, and reading through those other volumes was making me lose faith in… something. Probably manga, since I can’t imagine how many good series failed to sell more than this one. Looking at a chart, it’s sold more than Death Note. I know that it’s about twice as old and twice as long, but damn it.
Anyway. The motley group of heroes make it over to some sort of Ancient Elf City where they suspect Princess Sheila wound up after Metallicana blew up. Dark Schneider, after some prodding, speaks in an ancient tongue and the heroes use a portal to get there, whereas the enemies are using The Emerald Eye of Ekron and some blimps or something. Dragons are fought. Dark Schneider tries hard to be a bad guy, even though he has trouble now since Yoko doesn’t like it and he’s still part Lucien.
Kall-Su (who still reminds me of Cipher, and will as long as I see him) has been taken over completely by Anthrasax. Anthrasax wants to be unsealed before the great good that beat him wakes up, and there’s just the matter of Princess Sheila to finish up before it happens. Apparently he takes direct control of Kall-Su to make sure that this happens, but it’s also notable that most of the enemy headquarters has turned into some sort of weird biological extension of his body. Hmm.
Some awesome things: a new character named Vlad Kills, a really cheesy shower scene that’s only good because it’s such blatant classic fanservice, someone calling Dark Schneider “monkey spunk,” and a two page spread with Dark Schneider yelling “Fucking Die!”
Actually, this volume was a lot more profane and hilarious than the previous volumes, and was a lot more blatantly erotic. One of the chapter title pages had Yoko laying naked across Dark Schneider’s (also naked) lap. He may have been goosing her. Or tweaking her. I don’t know.
This volume was a lot better in general. This is more in line with what I thought the series was going to be when I started it, and maybe it has gone back a bit to the quality in the first couple volumes. The plot makes sense and is readable, and even though 100 new characters are introduced and immediately die, it’s pretty easy to follow that Kall-Su is ruling with an iron fist, farmers are rebelling and Yoko and some Samurai are helping them, and some of Kall-Su’s generals engage the Samurai, Yoko, and eventually Dark Schneider in a fight. Things don’t get over-the-top ridiculous until Dark Schneider shows up at the end of the volume. I think his random hilarious profanity helped me enjoy it more, but he still talks about how great he is, and he still makes lewd remarks about Yoko, he still fires off heavy damage spells… I don’t know, I just liked it a lot better here.
It’s still not what I would call “good,” but this is the cheesy sort of stuff I’m looking for, so that’s fine.
Now, it seems like whenever I remember that I’ve got a couple volumes of Pastel lying around to read, I remember that I’ve also got a couple volumes of Bastard left to read. Again, I bought through volume 10 before I decided there was no redeeming this series, so I promise I’ll stop reading it when I finish up with what I have.
But… yeah, there’s a lot more of the same thing here. Dark Schneider fights Abigail in one epic last push to save the world from the awakening of Anthrasax. Of course each continuously talks about how strong they are (this time the boast was mostly on Abigail’s side), both throw “final” spells at one another, background characters react, Arshes Nei cries about her poor Darsh, et cetera. It was fast reading, at least, because you sort of know where all this is going.
There is a curveball thrown in, however. Dark Schneider finishes the fight as just a torso with one arm attached, but somehow alive. While Yoko is chastising him, Abigail comes back to life and grabs up Yoko, and… I wasn’t too clear if Dark Schneider wasn’t fighting back because he was just a torso, or because he was out of magic, or because he didn’t want to hit Yoko, or… what. I think it was the latter. Yoko is the one that takes Abigail out, and I had to admit his death was pretty spectacular. There’s a weird (dream? sex?) sequence between Yoko and Dark Schneider, and then the storyline ends. Hmm.
Things pick up a few years down the line, this time Kall Su is still terrorizing the public in the name of Anthrasax. No heroes are in sight initially, and they are presumably dead since Abigail’s death wiped out the castle where they were all fighting. Kazushi Hagiwara managed to ruin the rest of Cipher for me by drawing Kall Su as the titular character, thus reminding me of this horrible series every time I try to read a volume of Cipher. I just… can’t I read shitty shounen manga without it ruining my good classic shoujo? Please?
So the next couple volumes of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure have disappeared, which breaks my little fangirl heart. Why that series has seemingly been cancelled, and the likes of Bastard and Ultimate Muscle are still going, is something of a mystery to me. I felt like consoling myself with a shitty manga for some reason. My logic was rewarded with a Jojo reference.
This volume consisted entirely of the fight with Abigail. The first half of the volume was Abigail versus Arshes Nei, and the second half was Abigail versus Dark Schneider. I may or may not have slept through the parts with Arshes Nei, because this battle was just like all the others. They use powerful moves on each other, each one supposedly a death blow, then it doesn’t kill the person, so a more powerful move is dished out.
The fight with Dark Schneider is slightly more interesting, but only because he and Abigail start babbling nonsense about the power coming from Hell, the magic being older than modern magic, who is the most powerful, etc. I… think Anthrasax may be awake? The princess is writhing orgasmically on the floor, so it’s hard to tell if he’s actually awake, or if her seal is somehow being broken, or what. He does appear, and there is a nice drawing of him on the back cover.
Also, Dark Schneider is quartered near the end of the volume, a violent act I was not expecting, and made all the better since he still seems to be alive.
Ho-hum. Three more volumes and it’s still not very readable. At least this volume was far less lazy than the last.
I don’t know. This is certainly one of the worst series I’ve ever read. The only thing that stops me from pulling my hair out and throwing it in the trash is the fact that it’s well aware that it’s bad, and it even revels in it a little bit.
The plot is still no good. As far as I can tell, there is no hiding the fact that Abigail is still sending unbeatable opponent after unbeatable opponent after Dark Schneider. This volume consists entirely of the fights between two such opponents. To give you a little break, Gara does a lot of the fighting on the second opponent. Nothing happens between Dark Schneider and Yoko. Nothing happens between Dark Schneider and the princess. We do get some angsting about Dark from Arshes Nei, but nothing really comes of it. The status of the kingdom is still uncertain, and I have no idea how close the kingdom is to being saved or how close Abigail is to getting what it is that he wants.
What’s bad? Well, how about the lazy art? Some panels are drawn pretty sketchily or rushed-looking, which I may forgive if they didn’t happen so frequently, or if they were used consistenty as part of a joking-type style or art. They’re really not, and they’re often accompanied by asides where he apologizes for not having enough time to draw stuff. The characters are often drawn bizarrely off-model, sometimes with side comments joking about an arm drawn in backwards. One chapter ends with two pages of panels filled in with only dialogue and no drawings, which I know was a deadline that he didn’t meet. Dark Schneider breaks the fourth wall almost every time he opens his mouth, and it’s too much for me. A lot of time is spent with simple character reactions to huge spells and things like that, which can get tiresome after several chapters. Much time is spent on character death scenes, sometimes several chapters, and the characters never die, and there’s never much of a good explanation for why they come back to life.
But all that stuff is the point. It’s meant to be a really hammy fantasy series that makes bad jokes. I think I’m just not getting them.
I’ve got four more volumes of this to read. I bought seven or so on sale when I found out some of the earlier volumes were going out of print since I tend to like fantasy series. Goddammit, I should have bought Basara instead. Maybe if I wish hard enough, when I go to sleep tonight I’ll wake up and the first ten volumes of Bastard will have turned into the first ten volumes of Basara on my shelf.
Here. Because Pastel always makes other series look a lot better.
As messy as Bastard still is, there was a lot of significant story going on in this volume, and I can respect that. The battle between Dark Schneider and Arshes Nei turns out to be much better than I had expected, and it had a really epic finale. The armies pouring in to get the last seals to awaken… the evil being (whose name escapes me at the moment) put up a good fight, and there are some interesting fights and some other elements introduced.
Then something awesome happens, and there’s a big fight at the end of the volume. I actually kind of liked it. Maybe things will start picking up, but there’s at least the beginnings of organization here. I do like this series, I have a hard time hating it for being bad… which is kind of is, at the moment. I just can’t help but be fascinated, though.
Oh Jesus, this series is such a mess. I can’t even begin to make any sort of intelligent comments about this volume because it’s nearly incomprehensible.
Near as I can figure, the main feature was the fight between Dark Schneider and Arshes Nei. Gaara also fights Arshes a little bit at the beginning, but only Dark is a match for her, of course. Lots of fighting is done. Lots of really hard to follow fighting.
If fighting isn’t really your thing, maybe you’d be interested in some really bizarre and poorly-done character relationships. I want to like this series, I really do. I may actually still. But at this point, there really isn’t much to like. I hear it gets better though, which makes me feel happy.
As a heads up to anyone interested in reading this, I think the early volumes are going out of print. I had part of my order cancelled and had to get volume 4 and… 7, I think, from another source. That could mean anything, but I’m willing to bet that these volumes are old enough and not popular enough that it’s probably not getting a reprint if the original stock sells out.
Oh man, this series really isn’t very good, but it’s extremely aware of this, so it tries to ride the wave of badness for all its worth.
I mentioned this before, but the comments made in the panel gutters by Hagiwara increase in frequency in this volume. It’s kind of like MST3k for manga, because he’s mostly making fun of the characters and situations when things get weird or over-the-top (example: a female wizard at one point is controlling a Cockatrice with a crystal. she’s wearing little more than a scanty cloak, and he asks where she was concealing the huge crystal). I’m not sure if I like it or hate it, but it definitely adds character.
Hagiwara refers to Dark Schneider in these comments and in the interview in the back as “Darsh,” which I really like. I wish it were used more in the dialogue too, instead of “D.S.” I’m not sure if the initials were used in the original version (I wouldn’t doubt that they were), but it looks more like space was being saved in the dialogue bubbles. It’s a little weird to read with the abbreviations in the dialogue like that.
I do like the extreme fantasy elements of the story, though. In this volume, in addition to fighting a wizard who is also a warrior, Dark Schneider also goes up against a Cockatrice, a Vampire, and a Werewolf. The Cockatrice and Werewolf battles were both short, but pretty cool. The battle with the Vampire was just cool.
This volume had a weird obsession with virgins. Of course, that could just be the series as a whole, too. For the sex and violence bits, there was an extremely filthy scene where Dark Schneider sucks the poison from a fallen foe, and people get blown up and cleaved into pieces a pretty good amount, so I was happy.
One last thing. For whatever reason, the Vampire had an assistant named Judoh, and whenever he spoke his name, it was always “JudohHhhHhh” where the “h” would be extended and wobbly in the text. I’m not sure why, but I laughed at that every time. It was easy to imagine how he was saying it.
I forgot to mention that the full title of the series is Bastard: Heavy Metal Dark Fantasy. Any series with the subtitle “Heavy Metal Dark Fantasy” should be something that appeals to me. I was sort of wrong here, but again, I really want to like Bastard, so I’ll probably keep reading it.
Once again, only one adjective comes to mind after reading the second volume, but it changed: now it’s “vulgar.” Now, it is vulgar in the traditional sense of being rather naughty (there is a really bizarre sex scene where… a second body intermittently appears and disappears), but it’s also just loud, annoying, violent, and over-the-top. Unfortunately it doesn’t succeed as well at being over-the-top as, say, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, but it does it in its own way, and it seems to have gathered itself and started down its own path.
The plot this volume is that the kingdom of Metallicana is using Dark Schneider to head off an attack by a ninja clan. He agrees only because the ninjas have kidnapped the main female character, his possible love interest at this point. The volume focuses almost solely on the task of getting through the ninja hideout and confronting the head of the clan. Many things happen here, including scenes where clothes are melted off and arms are severed. Dark Schneider appears naked more than once. I love it, but there’s still something really, really off about the pacing and plotting through this volume. Also, there is no way character relationships could be more awkward and painful to read. I think it’s getting better though.
I don’t quite understand the note posted about the art. From what I understand, there is an “Ultimate Edition” of Bastard, which is probably not kazenban, but the artist redrew the art for it, at any rate. It must have had a high page count, because there is a note in the back that mentions where “Ultimate Edition” volume 1′s art switches over to the original art for the series. The most noticeable difference is character design, but it feels like things get cleaned up quite a bit too. My question is… was only volume one of the Ultimate Edition available when Viz published their version of Bastard? Was the art redrawn only for the first volume of the Ultimate Edition? It’s just kind of weird that the new material only appears for the first volume and a half. I guess there’s a few explanations that would make sense.
Oh… my. Still not very good. I want to like it though, so like I said, I’ll probably keep plugging away.
Would you believe I confused Bastard and Berserk when trying to buy the better series for my roommate? I mean, both are fantasy, both are violent, and both are for boys. Apparently it’s all the same to me since I read girly comics. Berserk is the one I wanted, but Bastard is the one I got. In my defense, they didn’t have Berserk in the comic shop I was in, so it’s not like I drew a volume-to-volume comparison and decided this one was better.
The only adjective I can use to describe this first volume is “shitty.” My apologies. As much as I want to like this series (the plot sounds awesome, which is why I bought this one thinking it was Berserk), it just isn’t done very well at all. The art, while kind of cool and really suited to the extreme fantasy setting of the story, can be hard to read and follow. Viz is doing its thing where it pastes huge translated sound effects over the original to cover the lack of art edit, which makes the action scenes that much harder to follow… and, quite honestly, nothing very interesting happened in this volume. We are introduced to Dark Schneider, he fights a battle, throws a tantrum until a girl beats him up and seals him back up, then is let loose again when the kingdom needs him to fight another battle. Of course, he throws a tantrum again. That’s… really all that happened. His seal is broken by the kiss of a pure maiden, and I could not get over how much time is spent on her rejection and embarrassment over this kiss through the entire volume. Perhaps it’s been awhile since I’ve read a series like this, but even in shoujo series they don’t spend that much time on it. Oh, also, there are some comments from the artist included in the gutters between panels. They are some of the lamest, most unfunny comments I have ever seen. I think Viz edited some of them out because they were far too stupid, seeing as how they were quite literally notes to his friends. I’ve read some boring author talk sidebars, but his brief blurbs throughout the volume put every single one of those to shame. Ugh.
That list of grievances aside, I really want to like this manga. A badass wizard who is unlocked with a virgin’s kiss, is super-powerful and super-horny, coupled with awesome 80s art (however unclear it is in parts) is something I want to support. I like Dark Schneider, he is a walking stereotype hero hard-on, and I want to read any story he may be a part of. I’ve also heard that the series gets progressively more and more… pornographic as it goes on, and I desperately want to see this transformation in a Shounen Jump series. I want to see it like nobody’s business. It helps here that he is naked every time he appears. That’s a start.
Oh Bastard, if only you didn’t suck. Maybe it’ll get better if I keep reading. Volume 2 was at least an improvement as far as story quality goes.