Hoshin Engi 19

September 18, 2010

Ryu Fujisaki – Viz – 2010 – 23 volumes

WHAT!? I’ve been reading all this time and… what? Joka… what?

Seriously. How does that work? Either this is one of the most cosmic series I’ve ever read, or something’s definitely screwy. Re-writing human history so thoroughly? I know that’s what they’ve been trying to do all along, relinquish control to humans and have magical beings withdraw, but… words fail me.

Words just fail me, Hoshin Engi.

And there was another sennin battle. Crap. At least this one was less about fighting and more about reasoning with crazy King Chu. And there was even a mini-battle between Dakki and Taikobo, though I hope we see a better one than that when all is said and done.

But I did like that Shinkohyo was the one to unload all that stuff on Dakki, based on “things he’d figure out.” That’s some insane figuring he’s done. As crazy and completely nonsensical as all that was, it was still appreciated. Did we really need such crazy motivation for Dakki? Not really.

This… I don’t even know. I don’t care about this war anymore. It looks like it’s over with, anyway. At least it dropped all this crazy stuff when the main plot was taken care of.

Seriously. That’s all I have to say. Anything else would be a spoiler. And… yeah, I didn’t see that coming. I’m sure nobody did. I don’t know that I liked it. At all. But it was certainly appreciated as a reward for sticking with the series all this time.

Hoshin Engi 18

September 12, 2010

Ryu Fujisaki – Viz – 2010 – 23 volumes

YES. Much better now that the sendo war is over! Taikobo is sent after Taijo Rokun, who is the best character we’ve had in a long while. He’s not on any side, doesn’t have ties to any of the others or the worlds they belong to, and he’s lazy, so there’s nothing Taikobo can really say to convince him to come along. He’s also very funny. The first half of the volume is Taikobo tracking him down in the village he… I don’t know if he created it, or the environment in which it exists, but it’s extremely just, and Taikobo gets into a lot of trouble while he looks for Taijo Rokun.

When Taikobo finally locates Taijo Rokun, he has to speak to him in dreams, and they discuss human nature, Taikobo’s ultimate goal, and then train on super paope. It is absolutely cosmic, and one of the reasons I read this series through the boring parts. I know I will always be rewarded later. The best parts are these wonderful fantasy sequences, that take the Sennin world and show off just how different it is from reality. The worst parts are where we just see sennin versus sennin, with nothing to show us the scale of what’s going on. But since the themes of the series are the sennin pulling out of the human world, there’s more of the former than the latter.

After all that is taken care of, the characters confront Chokei, the master of Menchi castle and Bunchu’s disciple. This is a sennin fight, and it’s punched up a little bit by the fact Taikobo debuts his new paope, but the fight quickly (very quickly) ends, and Taikobo and Chokei go to the Hoshindai. This is… strange to say the least, since I’m not sure we’ve ever really seen the Hoshindai as a real place. Not one to let the opportunity go to waste, Fujisaki makes the trip fun with a turtle guide and a Galaxy Express 999 angry train taking them to their destination. We learn what it really is, and that Taikobo’s known all along. And best of all, we get to see Chokomei again, which is never a bad thing.

And now we are at a human war, and a crossroads. This is clearly the beginning of the end, and I’m pretty excited to see where things go from here. Certainly this war won’t last five volumes?

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Hoshin Engi 17

August 14, 2010

Ryu Fujisaki – Viz – 2010 – 23 volumes

And here’s the other adaptation of a Chinese novel. This is… an extremely loose adaptation, moreso than the Romance of the Three Kingdoms retelling in One Thousand and One Nights.

Hm. This series has slowed down significantly in the recent volumes. I can’t figure out why I’m enjoying it less. The problem I have with there being too many characters seems to solve itself with each passing volume (this one included… we lost a few people that I was quite fond of), and the epic war that brings about the downfall of the entire supernatural world is, to say the least, very interesting. But I think it’s all the vague paope fights, the power versus power, that’s wearing on me these last several volumes. Rather than Taikobo outsmarting people, we’re just seeing who’s made-up weapon is the best, and it’s far less interesting. Not even Genshi Tenson’s battle with Bunchu was that great, and I was really looking forward to seeing the great Genshi Tenson fight. The Bunchu versus Hiko Ko fight was marginally more interesting, but again, it was a bunch of speedlines followed by some sadness on both sides. It could have been so much more.

The end of the Sennin war is pretty epic. Lots of dramatic and sad trips to the Hoshindai, and seeing both sides come out at a loss was also pretty fantastic. Best of all, we can move on to something else now.

Taikobo puts Yozen in charge of King Bu’s march to the city and goes off in search of one of the greatest Sennin alive, one who sides with neither Mount Kongrong or Kingo Island and is on the same level as the leaders of both, or even Shinkohyo or Dakki. Taikobo’s already run into the strange Shinkohyo once on his search, and has arrived at a bizarre town, and already it’s far better than the war we just finished.

This series is always better in chunks, and I’ve got two more volumes to read before I’m caught up to the current release. I’m pretty excited to move forward in this new storyline, honestly. I haven’t liked it as much since the defeat of Chokomei in volume 12. I like it, I like it a lot, and I’m still impressed by how good the art is and how tightly plotted it’s been all along. But it’s never been quite as good since then. I have high hopes that some of the silliness I like will come back and brighten things up again.

Hoshin Engi 16

January 19, 2010

Ryu Fujisaki – Viz – 2009 – 23 volumes

I reviewed this for the weekly Manga Minis column over at Manga Recon, so you should check out my review over there.  Lots of other good stuff this week too, which I always fail to mention, but I always get a kick out of the entire column.

Verdict: things are getting awesome again.  A shame I spent this three-volume spree slogging through a boring war with a lot of filler.  I like where things are headed, and now I have to wait again.  I’ll try another 3-volume run, because again, this series is just too dense to read on a bimonthly basis.  It didn’t work out so well this time, but at least I remembered who Fugen was the whole way through.

Hoshin Engi 15

January 13, 2010

Ryu Fujisaki – Viz – 2009 – 23 volumes

This volume has one of the best lines in all of shounen manga.  In an epic fight between father and son, Otenkun yells “Dammit! His dilemmas made his heart explode!”  Unfortunately, it was used without irony or comedic intent, but I like it anyway.

The battle in Kingo Island continues.  It wasn’t nearly as boring as the last volume, since the battles this time around involve main characters like Taikobo and Yozen (and it’s a shame that we can consider Yozen a main character, but he’s suddenly become important, so…).  I’ll also freely admit to liking Igo, the newly introduced disciple, even though I hate to have another new character this late in the game.  He battles with Yozen and Nataku to take out two more of the Juttenkun, and Taikobo and Mugen take out another.  Most of the second half of the volume focuses on another subplot involving Dakki in Kingo Island, and how she’s behind not only the war in the human world, but also this massive battle that’s been taking place in the sennin world as well.  She’s been conspicuously absent for several volumes, and still hasn’t reappeared, but I am looking forward to the spectacular way she re-enters.  With all this destruction in her wake, her next plot should be epic.

I can’t recall if this was explained earlier in the series, but the sennin war is caused in a similar fashion to the one in the human world: Dakki went against Kingo Island and had one of her disciples slowly brainwash Tsuten Kyoshu, the leader.  He’s basically a puppet, and they used him to force Kingo Island to break a non-aggression treaty signed long ago.  I had a hard time following along with the aggression between the two forces all this time, and I had reconciled myself to this war since it’s been just as long coming as the war with the humans.  I was also confused midway through, because I thought all the sennin in Kingo Island were non-human, yosei sennin, while all the sennin in Mount Kongrong were human.  This is still true, but apparently Kingo Island is also home to yokai sennin and not just yosei, which are inanimate objects that become sentient after being exposed to moonlight for hundreds of years.

There is a sickness that takes down the majority of the sennin on both sides in this volume, which whittles the war down to a smaller force (thankfully).  The sickness is not a virus, like the one used earlier in the series, but is just Otenkun’s paope, which releases fleas that suck the energy from sennin.  Very few are unaffected, and those few are the only ones fighting at this point.  Because of this, I think the war won’t go on for nearly as long as I thought it would, which is good.  I am beginning to like this part of the story, especially after the huge plot revelation at the end of this volume, but I am eager to see what comes after all this, and how this will affect the human war.

Also, because I don’t say this often enough, Ryu Fujisaki has awesome, awesome, AWESOME character designs.  Sometimes the art gets a little too complicated to follow in action scenes, but you will never ever confuse any of his characters for another.  Yozen’s new look in this volume is one of his best designs yet.

Hoshin Engi 14

January 7, 2010

Ryu Fujisaki – Viz – 2009 – 23 volumes

As is customary, since I’ve got three volumes of Hoshin Engi built up, I will now indulge in a little marathon.  Again, I love this series dearly, and it’s worth the extra work to follow along with the plot and characters, but man, it can get confusing to keep everything straight.  Hence the marathons, it helps make everything a little more clear.

Unfortunately, this volume marks the beginning of a slow, rather uninteresting sequence where Taikobo et al fight a war inside Kingo Island, which basically means lots of battles against their Juzetsujin.  The Juzetsujin battles are only okay – each uses a paope that sucks the characters into another dimension that they control.  The battle that takes place at the beginning of the volume is with a Juzetsujin that controls toys, which was kind of cool, but didn’t really take advantage of it so much since we are clearly going to have to fight each and every one of the Juzetsujin over the next couple volumes.  There are… twelve or thirteen?  If memory serves, the group took down at least one last volume, and two or so here.  Otenkun is one of them too, but I assume he and Bunchu will be the last ones in this battle, since they are the only ones who have even a little character development.  Sigh.

To fight the Juzetsujin, the twelve elite sennin of Mount Kongrong mobilze.  I didn’t realize that’s who all those people were supposed to be until I was reading the appendix in the back.  It doesn’t matter.  I’m not looking forward to sitting through all their battles.  I just… I just want to see Taikobo fight a war, not sit through this repetitive nonsense.

Admittedly, I believe this probably has to happen.  Taikobo wants a human world free of sennin interference, and it seems like the purpose of this war may simply be to have all the sennin and yokai sennin kill each other off, so there just won’t be any more interference.

I like this series… but yeah, I can tell I’m going to have to weather a rough patch here.

Hoshin Engi 13

June 14, 2009

From the description given in the preview from last volume, I thought the plot backed off from the epic sennin fights a bit to focus on a virus threat in the Sennin and human world.  I was actually kind of disappointed by this, because this actually already happened, and Taikobo figured out how to vaccinate everyone.  It would be a real shame if such an unusual plot device was reused for no real reason.  I thought maybe the preview was somehow a mistake and an older one was used, but it also specifically mentioned Kingo Island being threatened, which wasn’t an issue the last time it happened.

Viruses play absolutely no part in the story in this volume, and instead we get the most epic sennin fight we’ve yet encountered.  Kingo Island and Mount Kongrong are at full war, and the two locations are physically flown through the air to engage in battle.  It’s… kind of weird and unexpected in a series grounded in history and traditional fantasy.  I guess there are the occasional mechanical paope, but still, it’s a little strange.  It’s still awesome though, regardless of whether it belongs.

At Kingo Island, we are introduced to a spokesperson for the twelve elite sennin (the group in charge over there) named Otenkun.  Otenkun’s character design is… er, a little out of place, since he’s pierced up the wazoo, wears black leather, chains, and eye makeup.  Again though, somehow Hoshin Engi pulls off the anachronism, and Otenkun actually has one of the best character designs in the series.  He’s up to something, and while Bunchu is the one that is waging the war without most people’s consent, Otenkun seems prepared to let it go on to a certain point.

Strangely, Taikobo is in charge of the Kingo Island attack instead of Genshi Tenshon.  I suppose he is the master of strategy… but he’s also the one that just drained all the energy off the mountain in order to fight Chokomei, so there’s that, too.

On a side note, I’m not sure why it didn’t hit me until this volume that Kingo Island was composed of youkai sennin (sennin that were originally objects or animals) and that Mount Kongrong was only human sennin.  I’m sure this was explained right away, but maybe I didn’t understand it back then.  Everything made so much more sense after that.

Anyway, a major focus of the volume was Yozen sneaking over and infiltrating Kingo Island in order to disable their shield Obi-Wan Kenobi style.  Yozen gets caught by one of the twelve elite sennin of Kingo Island and is trapped in his alternate dimension.  Since Yozen is a genius, both he and Taikobo are confident that he can escape, however, some interesting plot points come forward after he uses his tremendous amount of power.  I can’t imagine it having the effect that Outenkun describes, but I’m sure the implications will be more complicated than they seem.

Maybe the virus stuff is Otenkun’s plan for next time, or the reason behind why the two worlds are suddenly at war?  All I can say is that I love the crap out of this series, I’m pretty much used to the core cast (though 24 new characters joined up this volume with the elite sennin from each side), and I’m very, very curious to see how the plot plays out.  In all honesty, I like this sennin world stuff a lot more than the human conflict… which, strangely, seems to have resolved itself this volume, though I’m sure a war will still happen.  I can’t see the plot moving back to the war unless there are heavy sennin roles in the battles, which violates all the rules of the Hoshin Project.  I want to see how that is worked around.  I’m sure it will be unexpected and delightful.


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