World War Blue

I wanted to like this. I really did. I had high hopes for World War Blue. What, a manga about the console wars? Mario versus Sonic in an all-out waging raging war? What’s not to love?

Plot: Gear is the spunky spiky-blue-haired rebel who wants to rise up against the Nintendo Empire and give hope to the people of Sega. Yes, I know that it’s “Ninteldo” and “Segua”, but if I constantly write those, I’ll forget how to spell them normally. After Gear’s friend Tial dies, he joins the Sega army to get revenge.

Now, okay. That has some potential. Personally I’d prefer the view of Nintendo, but give Sega a time to shine. There’s a problem with that, though. I don’t recognize anyone outside of “Gear”, being Sonic, and “Tial”, being Tails. Maybe it’s become I’m a product of Nintendo, but that just rubs me the wrong way.

In fact, speaking of Nintendo, guess how many times any Nintendo characters appear? One scene in the first volume? That’s about right. It’s Mario (Marcus) and Luigi (although he’s not in view) with Yoshi (a generic dinosaur). That’s my complaint with the setup. Well, the only one on a personal level.

Okay, there’s more. When I was younger, I went to see Cats Vs. Dogs. I’m more of a cat-lover, but I have on occasion favored dogs. This was not that time. I hadn’t had a dog yet, so seeing the cats as evil ticked me off. Everyone was just laughing and laughing. Popcorn was pouring out of their mouths. Someone vomited an entire BMW. Me? I just sat and pouted.

What I’m saying is that from my perspective, Sega isn’t THE HEROIC UNDERDOG THAT RISES AGAINST A TYRANNICAL EMPIRE. Remember, who saved the market after the gaming crash? Who made gamers love gaming all over again, even today? Who has countless of recognizable characters, enough to say, “Hey, Sonic! You too Snake! Aw, Megaman, come here! You guys are like family! Why not join us?”

NINTENDO. Sega just seems like some young upstarts looking to make trouble. “Genesis does what Nintendon’t!” HA HA HA. HEAR THAT? THEY’RE LAUGHING NOW! NOT YOU, SEGA!

This reminds me, why doesn’t this start from earlier on? Why start at the end of Sega’s console life? First, it’s confusing to have Sonic just join the army. His name is Gear. Did Game Gear just join, or did Sonic? If it’s Sonic, why isn’t he the Emperor of Sega? Who IS the Emperor of Sega? And I don’t recall Tails being dead.

Heck, I think this should have been right after the gaming crash is over. Nintendo tries to rebuild the world, but Sega just goes in foolhardy, picking a fight and failing in the end. I dunno, maybe that’s just my opinion.

What’s NOT just opinion-based is the deplorable artwork. It’s not just bad. Granted, it’s not particularly polished. My first notice of the art being bad was about Chapter Two. There was ZERO EFFORT put into the faces of the Sega army. Seriously, they look like doodles. I could draw better, and I’m not even good enough to have a webcomic. The internet promised to shut down if I did so.

The Sega army isn’t the main issue, however. Funny thing… no, wait. Let me tell you my drinking game for reading World War Blue.

Every time a panel is copy and pasted, take a sip.
Every time a panel is copy, pasted, and zoomed in, take two sips.
Every time a panel is copy, pasted, and blurred, take three sips.
Every time a page has next to no art, finish your drink.
And every time a Nintendo character appears, finish the bottle.

The last one is my own personal complaint, but the first four show the art issues. Yes, the artist, “Crimson” (Nice, really. No, I like when the artist has no name easily searchable online. Good.) has taken to duplicating panels. It’s a serious problem, and it just makes the art come off as weak. Oh, you zoomed in? And now you’re adding a blur effect? WOWEE! And you get paid for putting no effort into your artwork? Mommy, can I have more please?

No, really. I’m embarrassed. The artist got paid for doing this. Oh, and sometimes for doing nothing at all. Yes, some pages are minimalist artwork, or no artwork at all, just 90% white with speech bubbles.

And that just kills it for me. I daresay that Qwaser of Stigmata had better art than this. Because, frankly, AT LEAST THE ARTIST DIDN’T JUST COPY AND PASTE EVERYTHING!

How’s the story? Generic. I had read Attack On Titan hours earlier, and that was like this, but WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY better. Loved one dies, an actual threat, some actual fights, drama, suspense, shocks, cliffhangers… it makes you want to read it.

Oh, right. They don’t attack Nintendo in this volume. Gear jumps on some of the army, but most of the volume is dedicated to training, thanks to the Tetris Man. Yes, a character is based on Tetris. Really grasping for straws there, gang.

So as you can see, it sucks. I hate it. This is probably one of the worst manga I’ve read published in the states this year. But hey, there’s supposed to be a manga about a centaur living a normal high school life. Maybe that’ll suck more.

Oh, and I bet the series ends like this:

Despite their best efforts, Segua’s empire fell on their face, defeated. Gear went on to make many mistakes later on in his life, such as bestiality and hanging out with the wrong crowd. Under the guidance of Emperor Marcus, Gear slowly made changes to his outlook, and they even buried the hatchet at the Olympics. True, now Ninteldo faces threats from Mikross and Zontion, but with Emperor Marcus and Gear working together, the console wars may be silenced forever.

Now, let us say a prayer.

Jiiiiiigaly puff… jigaleeee-eee puff… jig-a-lee puff, ji-ga-leeeee…

Amen.

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Battle Royale II: Blitz Royale

OMIGOD WHAT DID I GET INTO.

Before I talk about how awful “Battle Royale II: Blitz Royale” is, I want to address something else that makes a mockery of the original manga…

Yes. The Battle Royale movie. On its own, it isn’t a bad movie. Heck, it’s Quentin Tarantino’s favorite film. But is there any surprise that’s the case?

The Battle Royale film is probably based more on the novel, since there’s aspects that differ from the manga. Like Kiriyama’s design. Here, he’s physically similar to Ed from Cowboy Bebop. At least his hair is. Not a compliment.

And from what I gather, the teacher is different from the novel to the manga to the film. In the novel and the manga, the teacher has the same role: A government employee, no one has met him, and he’s just vile and twisted. The main difference is their names. In the film, the teacher is Kitano, who the class has had before, and seems to be there to have revenge on the class that mocked and stabbed him.

The main issue with Kitano is that they know him, while the opposite is true of Kiriyama. What makes the teacher scary in the manga is that no one knows who he is, and therefore don’t know any of his weaknesses. In the film, Kitano is a sad, pathetic man with a distant child and a crush on Noriko. Yes. Not lust, but puppy love. Heck, he brings her an umbrella in the middle of the program! Is this the fearsome teacher one would expect?

Meanwhile, Kiriyama is all wrong. Instead of a permanent poker face, he has normal emotions! And he is nowhere near the threat that Mitsuko serves. Actually, Mitsuko was done right, but her back story is dumbed down.

I understand that a movie has different pacing than a fifteen volume manga, but it still feels rushed. I think the movie is good in its own right, but can’t stand up to the patience that the manga serves.

Okay, Battle Royale II.

Plot: Everything is wrong. Everything. The art is wrong, the plot is wrong, the characters are wrong, wrong, wrong. Sigh… Makoto Hashimoto is SUCH A LOSER. She’s apparently the class jinx. Her class is chosen to be part of a different program, which is more like the army than Hunger Games. I’m not even sure how to describe the rest of the plot. Basically, they want to find a way home, but the only way out is to take a test that no one in previous years has passed. Can they do it? No.

First, and oddly my biggest complaint, the artwork. Yeah. Usually I’d complain about how the characters in this manga don’t give off a single emotional connection or how the plot strays too far from the original concept, but honestly, I find the art most off-putting.

When you read the original manga, you can tell everyone apart. Some are tall, some are short. Some are fat, some are thin. Some are ugly, some are beautiful. But in this mess, everyone looks six degrees away from everyone else. The art ruins any chance of this being a good manga. Plus, everyone has Dumbo ears.

I’ll admit, the plot could have been worse. True, it’s different than the original concept. But could you honestly imagine a repeat of that idea? Props to the creators, I think I’d rather have this than a copy of what worked.

But that’s the problem. It worked. This… doesn’t. How stupid are the creators of this program to attached the soldiers with exploding collars? Why give the students a chance to kill their oppressors? It makes no sense! Speaking of making no sense, we pretty much focus on Makoto. Everyone else is just a cardboard cutout of a character. What I loved about Battle Royale is the way they made me care about its forty-two combatants. I don’t know how many students are in Battle Royale II, and I don’t care.

Makoto’s really annoying as well. She cries and has no skills to speak of. Some of the other characters are more take-charge, but by then it’s pointless to care. Not because they die. Actually, there’s few fatalities until the end. No, it’s pointless to care because it’s only two volumes and no one is fleshed-out enough. That was a huge mistake.

And of course, it end abruptly. Like all bad manga, we never truly understand what happened to characters poorly drawn that we don’t care about.

Don’t look for Battle Royale II online, because you’ll just be disappointed. Frankly, I’m glad it never got an American release. A mess like this can stay at home.

COMPLETED! Battle Royale

Fifteen volumes later…
You can see my review of Battle Royale Volume 1 here. I think it’s alright. It’s no review of Qwaser of Stigmata, but it does the trick.
As I read volume two and noticed that they had killed off like, four characters out of forty-two, I wondered how they would stretch this out to fit the predetermined length. If you’re worried that a volume goes by with no kills, put those fears to bed. Get a nice glass of milk for those fears. Probably wouldn’t hurt to read them a bedtime story. Personally, I recommend “Ten Apples Up On Top”, a personal favorite of mine.If it was a manga, it’d be a 4koma, maybe.
What makes this series work is the tension. Battle Royale shows the reader how they can act if their class were put in peril. Will you be level-headed like Shuya, our rock-‘n’-roll-lovin’ hero? Prepared like Shogo? Useless like Noriko?
So, let’s talk about the women in Battle Royale, because frankly, it’s pretty unkind to the double-X chromosomes. Noriko is Shuya’s love interest. That’s it. She shoots the big bad, but by then everyone had already had their shots. Plus, that didn’t kill him.
Generally, there’s very few female characters who rise above the rest. Most are afraid of what’s going on. Some, on the other hand, get into it. Most notably Mitsuko. She’s killing just as well as the boys, if not better. The creepiest scenes in the manga usually come from her.
To get an idea of what this manga is at its darkest, let’s look at Mitsuko:
-She was raped as a child and confuses rape for love
-She shoots someone, sees he has his “thing” up, and rapes him.
-Did I mention sometimes she’s portrayed as a beat-up doll?
Yeah. That’s Mitsuko.
The other strong female character (throughout, that is) is Takako. She definitely looks the part. When the token one-dimensional bully character (as opposed to the other dimensions) tries to kill and rape her, Takako exclaims, “I promise you this! You will die a virgin!” And he does. Unfortunately, she gets shot after killing him.
Oh, hold on. Before I finish that thought, let me tell you something this manga ISN’T good at. Okay… so, like, picture it. Pretend you just finished stabbing Jason Vorhees and saved you and your lover. Then you say something like, “Everything will be okay now!” Now, tell me… are you surprised when your lover gets their head chopped off? No? Interesting. I only bring this up because…
THE MANGA DOES THIS ALL THE FRACKING TIME!
I’m not even kidding. Anytime the characters get over a struggle, they get shot or stabbed. The art also tends to give it away, with bright light effects or what have you. I’m not even exaggerating. With the big bad, they constantly go “It’s over…” THEN THE GUY COMES BACK TO LIFE! I mean, you think that’s enough deaths for one guy by now?
Back to Takako. She’s best friends with Hiroki, the resident martial arts master. Now, Takako wanted to be more than friends, but Hiroki has feelings for Kayoko, who doesn’t show up until near the end. Being completely honest here: I wish Hiroki and Takako got together. Obviously they can’t since she died, but by the time Kayoko appears, it’s too late to grow comfortable with her. She does teach Hiroki the Kamehameha, though.
There’s also the relationship between Mimura and Yutaka. Mimura’s the Ace. Athletic and computer-savvy. Rarely loses his cool. Yutaka? Not so much. He’s constantly screwing up, and Mimura has to reassure him that he’s doing fine. Now, even though Yutaka was irritating, it’s still heartbreaking to see his death. Not all the deaths are like that, but I found that one to be the most engaging.
Finally, Kiriyama. I WILL NOT SAY ANYTHING ABOUT HIM. Okay, maybe one thing. I’ve read a lot of villain characters, but I think he’s the best. If you have one reason to read Battle Royale, it’s for him.
At the end of the series, I found myself having had fallen in love with these characters. The drama, the atmosphere, the do-what-I-want-because-there’s-no-rules attitude… Pick up Battle Royale. Unless you’re squeamish. WAIT I FORGOT I WAS SQUEAMISH.
Man, if only they made a Battle Royale II. But’s it’s simply too bad that they never did.
Wait, WHAT? There is one? Man, I gotta check this out! It’s gonna be the best thing ever!