Saturday, March 17, 2007

Archlord vol. 1 Impression

The more I read Korean manhwa (mangas counterpart) the more I love them. The art, story and translation of series such as King of Hell and Ragnarok have paved the path for Archlord, based on the Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing (MMORPG) game of the same name. While it shares a name, land and settings with the game counter-part this is where the paths divide. I've never been a huge fan of MMO's, but I am a fan of this new manhwa from Tokyopop.
Create by Jin-Hwan Park, Archlord takes a few pages to setup the overall world and back-story of legendary heroes and even more legendary weapons, a story any Lord of the Rings, Dragonlance or Lodoss War fan will truly appreciate. The House of Manas and its lineage possess one of these weapons, the sword Brumheart, and it's with the current lord, Leon Manas that our story begins. Leon is revealed to be a loving father and husband, one who is betrayed by his power hungry 'loyal' knight Ernan. While he succeeds in killing the father Ernan's lackeys fail to kill the infant child Zian setting up your classic coming of age, revenge, and journey that anyone picking up this manhwa will expect. Sixteen years pass, Zian is older having been raised in Tass Forest and this is where the story truly begins.

Archlord does not break the mold on action adventure stories in volume one, but what it does do very well is set the stage quite quickly for what is shaping up to be a very fun journey with a varied cast of characters carried by some beautiful art. If you're a fan of action stories set in a classic fantasy mold then please pick up Archlord now. Like many other Tokyopop titles coming out of Korea this is one I'm going to keep my eye on and so should you.

Monday, March 5, 2007

O-Parts Hunter vol. 1 Impression

Say hello to Seishi Kishimoto, younger twin brother or Naruto creator Masashi Kishimoto but not an artist living in the shadow of his brother's success. The reason, O-Parts Hunter. The similarities in art and setting style are very apparent, which Seishi points out on page 8 of volume 1. Two siblings growing up will share experiences and influences in their art, another fact Seishi points out, but that is where the comparison ends. After reading volume 1 and 2 of O-Parts hunter I'm inclined to compare young Jio to a young Goku and Ruby to Bulma in Dragon Ball. Replace the search fro Dragon Balls with O-Part relics and a (SPOILER) Giant Monkey Saiyan to Satan and you start to get the point.

O-Parts Hunter follows the adventures of Jio, a young boy with one goal, world domination. Jio hooks up with Ruby, the Bulma of our adventure who's following in the footsteps of her famous treasure hunting father in the search for O-Parts. O-Parts are relics from an ancient civilization, relics that all of mankind fights over. At their heart O-Parts are weapons of various sizes and power that can only be used by O.P.T.s, which stands for O-Parts Tacticians. O.P.T.s can fight for good or evil so there are plenty of clashes between O-Parts users.

In volume 1 you get to know Jio, just a little, see his 'powers' (sorry, you have to read for more, no mas spoilers) and how he teams up with Ruby. This is what a volume 1 is supposed to be, a great introduction to the characters and settings that gives enough action to leave readers wanting more, wanting volume 2. The story so far is pretty standard anime fare, young boy, journey, special powers, but what separates this manga for me as an action fan is the involvement of dual personalities, government conflict and the O-Parts. Jio is young enough that he does not have this long drawn out back-story to learn, but there is some meat there to digest … GOD I wish I could say more about his background but it will ruin what was one of my pleasure in volume 1. To wrap up the story it's open-ended enough that you can enjoy the journey with Ruby and Jio, but you will begin to see conflicts coming down the road, good stuff.

A good story means nothing without the art and settings to back it and this is where O-Parts really shines. Seishi does indeed have a style with similarities to his older sibling, and this is a very, very good thing. The emotion, both humorous and deadly serious, on each character is so convincing that you'll be laughing one moment and turning the page in anticipation of the action the next. The settings and creatures found in O-Parts reflects a world that was truly devastated populated with unique creatures both big and small.

O-Parts Hunter provides a good story, great art and an overall fun package that any action fan will enjoy. If you dig Naruto, Dragon Ball, Beet, King of Hell or any top notch manga pick up O-Parts. This is on treasure hunt I'm signing up for the long haul on and you should too.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

Coyote Ragtime Show Impression

Coyote Ragtime Show is a stylish, hip and uber sweet anime the likes I've not had the joy to experience since the days of the Bebop. Where Cowboy Bebop was about the adventures of a group of bounty hunters (Cowboys), Coyote Ragtime Show is about their quarry, pirates (Coyotes). No these series are not connected but from the start of episode one this series will feel very familiar to any Bebop fan.

Planet Graceland is set for destruction and when it goes so does the treasure of the legendary pirate king. Enter Mister, one crazy cool hombre Coyote who's just escaped from prison in order to help Franca (pirate kings daughter under Misters protection) get her fathers treasure. Mix in the pirate kings former right-hand man, and current preacher Swamp Gordon, two stylish crew members, two female detectives that would make Lupin drool and a bevy of robotic assassin Lolita's and you've got the makings of a shoot-em up, blow-em up adventure that will keep anime fans strapped to their chairs from start to finish.

The animation and character design is a pleasure to watch. The gruff Mister and his crew do not seem fake cool (Vanilla Ice) but rather they feel like the real thing (Eminen). Each design is unique and funky especially the twelve sisters with their Goth Lolita look, this series could win some fashion awards. The voice-acting is spot on with the right mix of savvy, bitterness and desire you would expect … what you will expect when you meet this cast of misfits. When you take excellent character design and professional voice acting and backdrop it with planets, ships, battles, bars and settings that do not skimp on details you've got one solid anime. The pacing of the series is nice mixing in some great action with a kicking soundtrack that tells watchers when to sit back and pay attention and when to get on the edge of their seats.

I'm not going to sit here and tell everyone to get Coyote Ragtime Show, but I am telling you if you have even a passing interest in an excellent series like Cowboy Bebop then you will no doubt, 100% love Coyote Ragtime Show. If you want to learn more about the characters pick up the March 2007 (Vol. 3) issue of Newtype USA, but I would suggest getting volume one of the DVD, it's hot, and right next to Cowboy Bebop on store shelves.