Arata: The Legend 9

May 3, 2012

Yuu Watase – Viz – 2011 – 13+ volumes

Hmm… still really on the fence about this one. It just feels like it’s going through the motions of a shounen manga. I no longer really care about any of the characters, and Arata is more or less a faceless good guy at this point. I’m also still having trouble with the series’ terminology, but that could be more of a personal problem, made worse by the fact I’m not really able to get into it enough to bother to remember the special words.

Arata and company are still dressed as women, and still trying to woo the shinsho Kagura, who can fly. Arata quite literally woos him when his female disguise works too well and Kagura falls in love with him, but before Arata can break the bad news about him being male, Kadowaki shows up and wants to rumble. Something tragic happens, and a decision is made there and now about which one Kagura will submit to, since he’s being forced to. Later, we learn more about the royalty of the land Arata is trying to save, and learn that there are only Queens and Princesses because a worthy King successor has never appeared. Guess who’s currently in the running?

And… yeah. There’s a lot of generic fighting, a lot of generic bonding, and a lot of generic exposition and place development. The latter was actually my favorite part, and Watase does still have a knack for making detailed worlds. The special tribe of female healers, and their history of the land, was the most interesting thing in this volume. But even that… we find out there is a “destined partner” for Arata, which of course throws a wrinkle in the romantic development. He also seems to take all this new information rather well, and… yeah. I don’t really have that much else to say, because it was just so middle-of-the-road.

The index in the back makes me wonder if perhaps he’s captured most of the 12 shinsho, save for his traveling companion? If so, maybe the story will move on to something more interesting next volume. I have volume 10, but I may just give up after that if nothing more interesting happens. I really liked this series at first, and I thought it had an interesting premise, but it’s not really doing anything with the “swapped worlds” element, and fantasy-Arata is all but forgotten in reality. Here’s hoping something exciting will occur next volume.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Arata: The Legend 8

February 11, 2012

Yuu Watase – Viz – 2011 – 13+ volumes

Hm. This volume lost me a bit. Granted, I’m not the most faithful reader of this series. I’ve only read three of the last four volumes. But still, I’ve read enough that I should be able to follow along. It is a fun series, and I tend to like it when I pick it up, but this was mostly a shounen battle, with Arata Hinohara and his party approaching one of the Shinsho and the various battles associated with that. There’s lots of caring involved, with some of the major plot points revolving around Kanate in particular, and Mikusa to a lesser extent. And as big an event as the Kanate storyline was… it moved too fast, and I just didn’t like Kanate enough for that to have had as big an impact as it should. To me, he’s mostly just a plucky group member. I have no opinion on whether he stays or goes. Granted, this was the most elaborate thing that could have happened to a side character, but still. It brought the story to a grinding halt, and I just didn’t enjoy it that much.

I can’t say much more than that about Kanate. I’ve probably said too much already, but I don’t want to spoil this volume for those who do enjoy the series. There’s major goings-on, to be sure, but as a casual reader, I couldn’t get into it. Fans will almost certainly enjoy it, though.

Similarly, this volume has a lot to do with the Shisho of wind and his Zokusho, and the weight of what it means to be a Sho and who Arata can subjugate, et cetera. Again, maybe it’s just because I don’t read the series super-regularly, but I was having trouble keeping the terms straight. This is likely my fault, since there are Shinsho and Zokusho under them, and there’s not much more than that to it. But there are a lot of people tied up with the Shinsho of wind, all of them have titles, and it’s a little hard to keep everything straight.

The Zokusho of wind himself was pretty entertaining. He labors under some sort of curse, and has an aversion to men, which means that the Arata party has to sneak in disguised as women. Arata, of course, gets into the most humorous situation possible under those circumstances. It’s cute, if not entirely unexpected.

I was a little sad that there wasn’t more Arata-in-the-present for us to see. I kinda get that Arata Hinohara is the one having the adventure, but I like the idea of the story being split between the two. This isn’t a new development, though, as there hasn’t been a tremendous amount of Arata-in-the-present in the volumes I’ve read.

Usually I enjoy these volumes, but this one has me on the fence. Even with the good ones, I don’t like the story quite enough to follow it regularly, so when a volume like this involves the side characters and introduces a lot of incidental enemy characters, I have trouble following along and my feelings cool even more. I don’t think I’ll ever be a fan of this, but I’m willing to admit that it’s likely just a matter of taste. I do like this far better than other Watase series I’ve read (with the exception of Fushigi Yugi: Genbu Kaiden), so if the plot sounds appealing, you’ll probably like it. It’s not really for me, though.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Arata: The Legend 7

December 7, 2011

Yuu Watase – Viz – 2011 – 13+ volumes

Things slowed down a little more for me in this volume, where the first half is a battle to make one of the shinsho submit. Yorunami has mother issues, and the battle is long. There’s lots of self-depreciation, and lots of characters trying to help Yorunami realize his mother really did love him.


The one really cool thing about that fight was magic that Yorunami used to reverse-age Arata. I wish more manga magicians used that trick. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure uses it, which just shows you how cool it really is.

Later, we learn the consequences for Harunawa and Kadowaki switching places. Harunawa is not a nice guy, and plans on killing someone in reality for every one of the twelve shinsho that Arata convinces to submit to him. Meanwhile, Kadowaki is absent from the story this volume (I skipped a volume, so he may have put in an appearance last time), but his memory spurs Arata into doing great deeds.

My favorite part of the volume was a scene where Arata meets a random stranger who is convinced he murdered the princess. This stranger tears off the magatama around Arata’s neck and throws it into a ravine, and tells him that if he can retrieve it, then his innocence will be proven. I’m not sure what is going on, or why that would make him innocent, or… wow. It was shounen manga logic at its finest. At the pinnacle of this Shounen Manga scene, Arata matches pace with a sort of elk-monster to get his magatama back.

I… don’t know what to make of this. But this is why I read manga, I can tell you that.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Arata: The Legend 5

October 26, 2011

Yuu Watase – Viz – 2011 – 12+ volumes

This is one of those series that I forget about when I’m not reading, and I’m reluctant to get back into, but when I actually read the volume, I remember that the story is pretty good.

I still like the whole body-swap thing where each Arata is living the other’s life in an alternate dimension. This volume expands further on that, with a romantic interest for each Arata finding out that they aren’t the Arata each knows and remembers. Towards the end, a really creepy, sociopathic villain enters into the past and begins his attempts on the life of present-Arata. This kid seriously scares me, since he seems to be the type that goes far past bully and into the realm of crazy violent stalker. This doesn’t bode well for the next volume, but knowing shounen manga, he’ll wind up on present-Arata’s team by volume seven.

A lot more of the story, and the workings of the fantasy world, are explained in this volume as well. It delves into some politics, and discusses just what a task present-Arata has cut out for him if he wants to get all these people to submit to him so that he may save the life of the princess. Since I’ve skipped a few volumes, I was expecting most of this to go over my head, but I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it was to understand, and how engaging it was.

That’s actually a good description of the whole series. While it’s not run-out-and-read-it fantastic, it is a fairly fun and engaging read, and doesn’t get bogged down with a lot of details and characters. It ran in Shounen Sunday, and I’ve found myself leaning more towards these types of shounen series lately more than the rival ones in Shounen Jump. The characters are usually a bit more fun, and the plots are a little simpler and easier to understand, too. Arata’s a good example.

I actually have a couple more volumes of this to read, so I’m going to hold off on further commentary until I’m a little more caught up.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Arata: The Legend 1

March 1, 2010

Yuu Watase – Viz – 2010 – 5+ volumes

I’ve since reconciled with Fushigi Yugi, but my dislike for that series kept me away from everything Yuu Watase for quite some time.  She’s got quite a bit translated to English, but none as unusual as this, her current series.  Unusual because… well, unlike all the others, it’s a shounen series that runs in Shounen Sunday.  Interesting how many female artists run in that magazine.  Well, at least two, anyway.  It’s unusual.

The story is about two boys named Arata from two different dimensions switching places.  Fantasy Arata lives in a land of magic and wizards and whatnot, and his family watches over a sword that houses the power of a God.  He is sent by his grandma to stand in for the princess of his world, but when the council carries out a plot to overthrow the government, they frame him for murder and chase him into the countryside.  He escapes to an enchanted forest where he switches places with Present Arata.

Present Arata is a high school boy who suffers from one of the most severe bullyings I’ve ever seen.  Things are going well at his new school, but he is quickly followed by a boy who seems to enjoy nothing more than ruining in retribution for a small slight he imagined Arata to have committed some time ago.  This is the most unrealistic part of the story, since not only is it hard to believe this boy is following Arata around, but that he could so thoroughly ruin him, and convince everyone around him (Arata’s former friends) to do the same.

Well, the two switch places.  Most of the focus is on Present Arata in fantasy-land, where he becomes master of the God-Sword and is able to fight back against the corrupt council.  He is mighty confused, and doesn’t know who or what to believe, especially after being betrayed by his friends.

Fantasy Arata in modern times is only looked at briefly.  I’m looking forward to seeing him succeed at beating up the bully and conquering all injustices.

There are lots of anomalies that bothered me (everyone assumes the two Aratas are just acting strangely and don’t really comment on their appearance or matter of dress, which are obviously very different), and… other things, like the extreme bullying and the God Swords that look like something out of Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, but I really enjoyed the first volume.  It had a pretty good balance of action/adventure and exposition, and difficult fantasy terms were handled without too much of a wall of text.  I also have a fondness for time/dimension shift stories like this, when done right, and so far this one seems to be succeeding at what it does.  Both Aratas are also likable, and I’m looking forward to seeing the story balance between them.

Good stuff.  Again, I’m surprised Yuu Watase works for Shounen Sunday now, but the results are quite enjoyable.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.