February 18, 2008
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but to tell you the truth, I was a little disappointed with the end to this series. There is a satisfying fight between Mai and Turm, but I was really hoping that a huge psychological trauma would force Mai to unleash her powers much more than she actually did.
Don’t get me wrong though, the end is still pretty epic. The last part of the series has Mai being pursued by three boys. One of the boys goes to school with Mai, one of them goes elsewhere and does a lot of legwork like trying to take out the man who’s been sheltering Mai, and the other acts as a contact for the two, translating their psychic communications for the head of the Wisdom Alliance and sending out orders to the other two.
Inevitably, the three boys and Mai wind up flying all over the city, Mai only partially clothed. Like I said, the final battle isn’t as spectacular as I had imagined, but I can forgive it, because it sort of takes Mai’s feelings into consideration in a way that I respect. The ending works best, I think, because the story has done such a good job of showing Mai as a regular, kind 14 year old girl who doesn’t really want to fight, and that’s how she is to the end. Mai is a great character, which isn’t something I expected in a psychic action series, to tell you the truth.
Lots of death does occur, two of which I was really sad to see. They were characters I felt uncomfortable with throughout the course of the series, but I liked them a lot, and their ending was quite sad. At least they had each other.
There were shades of “Offered” briefly when Turm explained that she was descended from a God who protected Dresden and mentioned that Mai was descended from the deity who protected the Togakushi area. Maybe one of the boys was descended from Beowulf or something, I don’t know. This series was just too normal to take that and run with it, though, which is a real shame.
But yes, there is a happy ending, which I was not expecting. Mai’s a great character, and this series was definitely worth reading, but I think Otomo is still the go-to man for epic psychic battles… I definitely liked Domu better than Mai.
February 14, 2008
I was pleasantly surprised by how fast the plot has consistently moved through both the 400-page volumes so far. Like I said, I keep expecting a really boring psychic story that will stall for 200 pages, but so far that hasn’t been the case. It’s been non-stop action and twists all the way through so far.
After a pretty epic police chase, Mai starts to doubt herself thanks to a jealous girlfriend of Intetsu. She turns herself over to the Japanese underground force that’s been trying to capture her for the Wisdom Alliance… only to find that the real enemy is the Wisdom Alliance, and not the people that have been working so hard to capture her. Much of the second half of the volume are psychic wars waged between Mai and a German girl named Turm. Turm isn’t shy about her powers, and she’s sent by the Wisdom Alliance to Japan to try and prove that she can capture Mai and that her power is the greatest. Also, we get to see some characters towards the end that have been AWOL since the middle of the first volume. I missed them both.
It’s interesting to see the subtle way Mai’s emotions play out through certain situations. Nothing is ever stated overtly, but you can see her tenderness towards Intetsu, how happy she is when she’s back among her friends, how hard she struggles with her destructive power, how much she absolutely does not want to fight Turm, and… well, there’s lots of really specific examples of great scenes played out with just facial expressions or even really well-portrayed genuine emotion. No character is developed nearly as well as Mai is, and all the others do an excellent job acting as her foils. That’s probably the strongest point in the series… though the action’s pretty awesome, too. Let’s not ever fail to credit Ikegami for an awesome action sequence.
I’ve got a second printing of this book… and somehow, the cover (mostly just the back cover) looks really blurry and low-res. I can’t really think of a reason why this would be, it’s kind of baffling. It looks like the cover was printed using a bad scan of the original book. I’ve noticed this on a a volume of Chobits I saw at work too (not sure what generation, though I’m sure it’s gone through several printings at this point), it had a really bizarrely low-res cover and I know none of the volumes I have look like that. That’s two different publishers… I really don’t know.
February 10, 2008
I was in the mood for something really 80s, and this series fits nicely. Stories about psychics aren’t really my thing, but hey, I thought I’d give it a try. Somehow, I had no idea this was drawn by Ryoichi Ikegami, but that definitely made the decision a little easier.
Within the first couple chapters, we learn that not only are psychic powers going to be used, but insane martial arts too. Mai doesn’t really use her powers all that often in the first volume, but they keep getting more and more destructive every time she does. The high point is probably when she stops a car to prevent a puppy from being run over, at which point the driver is ejected messily through the winshield, a bus ramps over the back end of that car and explodes, and then the entire street turns into a flaming auto junkyard. Part of me wants to believe that Ryoichi Ikegami refused to draw the manga if that scene wasn’t in there.
A lot of the action is martial arts-y in this volume, though. At first most of the guys in the organization trying to catch Mai go up against Mai’s dad, who is an unstoppable badass. The organization counters with a huge man/ogre they’ve kept frozen for just such an occasion, and the huge guy and the father battle it out on a ledge that is only a few inches wide and has a drop down into a gorge on either side. During this scene, the giant’s feet are mostly whited out in the style of disappearing genitals. This made me a little mad, since as soon as I figured out this fight was going to take place, I felt like I needed to know how the huge giant feet were going to support him on the narrow ledge. Oh well.
Later, Mai moves into a college dormitory with a bunch of geeky guys, which seemed a little odd to me.
Mostly I hate psychic-oriented stories because they always seem to stall, slow way down, and get boring, but so far this one’s good, and God knows Domu was cool, so maybe I should start giving them a chance.