Blank Slate 2

November 24, 2008

I wound up liking this a lot.  The first volume was a pretty decent action series, and this second volume had a bit of a mystery with some satisfying pieces that fit together pretty well.

It took me a bit to get back into the story, but pretty soon I remembered that Zen and his sidekick were trying to save some refugees.  Some of what is known about Zen’s past is told through a character who found him in the woods one day, and from there the story goes down the path of military conspiracy you may have picked up on from last volume.  Except the characters involved, and what their roles are, were kind of surprising.  As was the eventual end of the story.  I definitely liked the role the sidekick had to play in it all, and I loved the eventual explanation for what happened to Zen in the prison last volume.

The characters are all pretty decent, and fleshed out just enough for the length of the story.  There is no dragging backstory for anybody, and yet all the reasons that anyone had for doing what they did were also adequately explained.  I wound up liking Zen a lot despite his role as a homicidal maniac from last volume.  That’s toned down quite a bit here, but it’s not clear what his… intentions, or motivations are, at least in the present.  It’s easy to forget the slaughter of last volume since a lot of humanity comes through here.

I liked this a lot.  The fact that a shoujo action series like this wound up winning me over so much bodes well for Otomen, a story I’m going crazy waiting for by the same author.  This is a good, quick read, and it’s probably worth picking up both volumes if you’re in the mood for some insane action, military espionage, or a bizarrely good-looking main character.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.

Blank Slate 1

October 5, 2008

As you may have noticed, I have a weird obsession with connecting all the works by particular artists that have been published in English.  I wanted to read this one only because it sounded interesting, but I was kind of shocked to learn that it was by the same mangaka as Otomen, one of next year’s series I’m looking forward to the most.  I was further shocked to find out she had another series in English, Soul Rescue, published by Tokyopop.  Soul Rescue doesn’t sound particularly gripping, but I may wind up picking it up if I find myself liking this or Otomen a lot.

I was kind of surprised, I thought this was an action-y series about an amnesiac main character.  It is, but you have to reject any sort of preconceived notions you may have about that.  This series isn’t about a sobbing, haunted main character surrounded by friends trying to help him regain his memory.  This is… about as far as you can get from that.  It’s an action series along the lines of what I imagine Kazuya Minekura’s series to be like, though I’ve never read anything by her.  Hard-boiled action and pretty boys.

I kind of like it, because it manages to thwart my expectations every time I try to see ahead.  The volume starts off by introducing the main character, Zen, and coupling him with a bounty hunter character who decides to not kill Zen and join up with him instead.  Except by the end of the chapter, the bounty hunter is killed by Zen’s own hand.  I was really shocked by this, because not only is it unexpectedly violent (though not too over-the-top or gory), but because I really was expecting the two of them to partner up for the duration of the series.  Then I figured that the chapter was introducing us to Zen before he lost his memory.  It’s not.  Zen’s lost his memory, and the only thing in his head when he regained consciousness was an impulse to destroy.  Thus the present character, who has no qualms about doing whatever crime he feels like, be it bank robbery, murder, kidnapping, etc.  He does everything he wants to on a whim, but it all has to satisfy his craving for violence and destruction.  I wound up enjoying it quite a bit both for the absolutely heartless main character (a rarity in shoujo manga) and the way the series just wasn’t doing anything according to the rules.  I can’t stress enough that I was totally blown away by the fact this was absolutely nothing like I had imagined it.

Things can get a bit heavy-handed as Zen explains his thirst for violence and imparts it on others, which in context makes it sound like a mantra since, you know, he lives for violence or whatever.  Not that much time is spent on this, but I still had to roll my eyes whenever the main character mentioned it.

The first two stories are one-shots, but the last two chapters are connected by what could eventually be a plot, and the main character really has joined up with someone at this point.  He may even have a purpose by the end of the volume.

This was really much different than what I was expecting, and I don’t normally read shoujo action titles like this.  But the way this volume ran contrary to absolutely everything I was expecting, I’m actually really curious to see what happens in the second (and final) volume.  It makes me think of the “Millennium Snow” and “Backstage Prince” stories I read not too long ago, those were two-volume shorts by authors with longer series running, and I wound up being pretty pleased with both of those in the end.  This one reads nothing like either of those two, but I think it works much the same way.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.