There are some flaws in this series that will make it so that isn’t enjoyable by most. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I think that part of it is that the characters are kind of shallow, as much as I like them. They get a lot of backstory, especially in this volume, and their intentions are all clear in the end, but there’s just something a little off about them. Also, I don’t think there is a big market for sentai series like I said before, which is just a real shame. This last volume totally rocks, and I really and genuinely enjoyed this title all the way through.
The premise for the series itself is really weird, and it’s hard to keep that in perspective as you read this volume, because you kind of get used to it. You have to remember that general Cassiel volunteered to conquer Earth because he wanted to fight their Sentai force, and when he found out that there wasn’t one, created one himself and fully outfitted it with everything they needed, right down to the giant robot. How and why Earth broadcasts were getting to the planet the aliens are from is not explained, but I’m willing to suspend disbelief.
In this volume, things come to a head as the government from the alien planet comes down hard on all the main characters… basically because Jude, Cassiel’s brother, has arranged things so that Cassiel can stay on Earth and gone slightly against the law of his planet to do it. There’s a bunch of weird politics that aren’t quite explained, but also aren’t too hard to follow the basics of. A lot of characters wind up in jail, and there’s a big battle where almost all the generals fight against their planet’s bureaucrats and one hold-out general vying for promotion. This battle is waged on/in/around Earth, and the Terra Rangers are drug into the fray as the Earth is almost invaded for real.
Basically, Jude tries to set things up so Cassiel can stay on Earth and be with the sentai heroes he loves best. Cassiel doesn’t know about Jude’s efforts, but as things progress, it’s clear Cassiel would have found a way to stay on Earth himself. He gives a long speech to the people of his planet about how the Earth has no heroes, so he had to create them himself and that’s why he has to stay behind there. By the end, you feel like cheering for Cassiel. You WANT his heroes, goddammit. This little series also almost makes you feel bad for the Terra Rangers when they find out about Cassiel, too.
Other than the fact many of the rulers of Cassiel’s planet (but not the King) want him dead, the actual final battle he wages against the Red Ranger has some hazy details. Basically though, the Red Ranger thinks he’s helping Cassiel with some political details to set him free. Cassiel thinks that it’s a battle of good versus evil, which is also interesting and confusing at the same time. The actual end of the series, what takes place after the battle, doesn’t quite make sense, but I’m willing to forgive it that.
Heroes are Extinct is a hard sell. It’s not for most people. There are very few who will think it’s genius other than me. But the immediate and ardent need for heroes that it left me with was something few other series have accomplished.
I’m having technical difficulties with the site again. This time I can’t actually log myself in to leave comments, so all my replies are vaguely anonymous (or avatar-less, I suppose) for the time being. Not that big a tragedy, but it’s annoying, especially since I just paid for something here.
I like this series so much. In the back, it’s revealed that it ran in Wings magazine in Japan, which is also where RG Veda and Princess Princess ran. There seems to be something vaguely bland and unsatisfying about all these series, and it honestly doesn’t bode well for the huge omnibus edition of Demon Ororon I have sitting next to me (also a Wings series), but I’m willing to forgive Heroes are Extinct its flaws because… well, it’s totally awesome and seems to be handling its characters and plot pretty well so far.
Right at the beginning of this volume, we are introduced to Cassiel’s brother, who is also a general. The two seem to share some sort of deep brotherly bond, since they are constantly together and rose petals tend to appear when they embrace. Velvet doesn’t really like the brother though, and through her, we find out that the brother has been up to some fairly shady goings-on.
The brother is all for the Earth Defense Force, though. While the generals are trying to find a new strategy, the brother appears and suggests (or rather, agrees with Cassiel) that the next plan of attack should be some sort of giant monster. The humans themselves don’t get much screen time or development, but Cassiel still really gets into planning out these really fake battles between his forces and those of Earth. He also gets the opportunity to live out a fantasy at the end of the volume which made me happy, indeed.
As for the flaws I mentioned earlier… yeah, there’s something slightly bland about this series. I enjoy it immensely, because like I said before, I really love sentai, but I can see how others might not be so forgiving. While everything flows really smoothly, it feels like it’s missing some vague minor details that might add depth to the series. The basic structure of the series is fine though, it was definitely set up to be a short series, and I think three volumes will be just the right length. Perhaps more details would have just bogged things down. A lot of the main characters stay pretty shallow in this volume too, most notably Velvet. Even I am wondering a little bit what Velvet’s deal is, because she doesn’t seem to want to open up to anyone at all. She definitely has problems with Cassiel’s brother though, and desperately needs to let off some steam. Punkin and the other general stay pretty much in the background this time, but they’re pretty… well, unimportant at this point.
I was very impressed by the thrust of the plot in this volume, though. Again, while it’s not the most original plot in the world, there’s a subplot involving the childhood of Cassiel that gets revealed at the end of the volume, and the brother’s sinister motives are explained in the end for what they are. There isn’t much progress on the invasion of Earth, but lots of other space drama happens.
So yeah, I LOVE this series, it still makes me laugh and I enjoy everything about it, but I can see how it might not be for everybody.
I may have mentioned I have a weakness for sentai comedy series. Unfortunately, this is a genre whose only fan in America is me, I think. One of my favorite CLAMP series is Duklyon, which only loses out to things like Holic and Sakura because it is only two volumes long, and I even liked the somewhat bad Imperfect Hero. But as far as sentai manga in English go… that’s it. Fortunately, DMP heard how much I liked these, and I think they licensed Heroes are Extinct just for me.
One of the reasons I like these so much is because it’s really hard to mess up jokes about sentai. They’re so weird in the first place that an actual sentai story only needs a little push in order to be funny. This series takes that to the next level and doesn’t even waste time with romantic triangles and breasts jokes. It is funny because it’s just really, really weird. The cycloptic main character is invading Earth, but when he finds that he can do this with no resistance, he decides he would like to train some Terra Rangers so that he can fight them in his role as the invading general. He spends a long time training said Rangers in the fine art of posing and delivering their lines. These people are actually just afraid of this one-eyed man and go along with him because he sets off explosions when they try to resist. Everything is done without being over-the-top, which is a beautiful thing.
There’s a couple flashback and fantasy sequences which were very funny, most courtesy of the main character. While running some errands on Earth, he puts up a sign which he was hoping would somehow suggest to Earthlings that they should band together to fight him in a sentai-like troop. As he imagines this, the Earthlings have heno heno mo he faces and relatively well-drawn blank little bodies, which make them look like Perry Bible Fellowship people organizing a sentai troop. One of his rushed flashback sequences featured a younger version of himself weeping manly little boy tears in frustration over falling in love with the princess. This may not have actually been that funny, but I think the weird timing of the sequence is what made it odd.
Some of the other characters are really weird, and probably the best thing about the series is that it does take everything with a really level dose of reality, which makes the weirdness that much funnier here when it would be taken in stride in any other series. One of the other generals is a dopey character who has what appears to be a floating puffer fish with him at all times. This offers several really bizarre jokes and story elements throughout the course of just this first volume. A general who makes his appearance in the last two or so chapters is a mute, good-natured fellow with a two-color face and who loves to creep up behind you and tie ribbons in your hair, which is about the creepiest thing I can think of.
It’s got a really level, unique weirdness to it that I enjoyed a lot. There’s nothing that stands out too much, but that’s a really good thing, and I liked not having 500 jokes thrown in my face at once. The plot isn’t that well-organized, though it’s also not scattered or rushed, and the characters are pretty one-dimensional, but I like them that way so far. At 3 volumes, this isn’t going to be a substantial read, but I really, really enjoyed the first volume, and I think I’ll enjoy the rest of it, too.