THE FIRST KING ADVENTURE
Manga adaptation of the anime series. Tsubasa and her father move to Hokkaido, where Tsubasa is walking in the woods when an alien spaceship lands. During a battle be-tween good and evil aliens, Tsubasa merges with the alien’s biotechnological combat suit and saves the day; the suit then detaches and morphs into a nearly identical clone of the heroine. The good alien asks for Tsubasa’s help tracking down and killing escaped monsters; meanwhile, when they’re not in combat, the clone (Hikaru) goes to school with Tsubasa under the pretense that they are twin sisters. The message of the story seems to be that Tsubasa overcomes her shyness through her connection with her pseudo-friend Hikaru, but the story is dull and we never really see this character develop.
Against the gods
Eighteen-year-old rookie Daigo, who has always wanted to be a fireman, finds himself assigned to disappointing desk work at the firehouse in sleepy Medaka-ga-hara (the “Me” of the original Japanese pun title). About thirty pages into the first volume, however, Medaka-ga-hara turns into the most disaster-prone area on Earth, and even when he’s just trying to go on a date, Daigo finds himself recklessly saving people from chemical spills, floods, escaped tigers, and fires, fires, fires! An archetypal shônen occupational manga, Firefighter follows its big-eyebrowed young hero as he learns the ropes, endures player-haters (“He’s a loose cannon, captain! How can you let a ticking time-bomb like that run loose!?”), and gradually becomes the world’s most awesome fireman. The plot is basically a series of action scenes with a story loosely written around them; eventually Daigo joins the elite rescue division, but for most of the manga he just happens to be present at the scene of horrible disasters. Although the plot is repetitive, the action is well set up and has a real sense of danger and excitement. And between life-or-death situations, there’s lots of info about fire prevention, the importance of emergency exit signs, and the like. The art is on the realistic side, with dynamic figures and nice caricatural faces.
True martial world
A slow-building, shôjo-influenced fantasy story set in the real world. A group of elementary schoolers encounters Varumu, a prince from another dimension who must prove his worth for his father’s throne by making pacts with the “spirit masters.” (The spirit masters are giant magical beasts of the summoned monsters/Pôkemon style, and in fact, Varumu’s fairy servant Aramin looks like Pikachu wearing a hood.) This standard manga/video game plot plays out in a surprisingly wistful, emo manner, focusing on sadness and loneliness. Varumu is like an alien out of place on Earth, and the people he encounters—Mueno, an introverted latchkey girl, and Yutaka, a boy who pushes people away—are all lonely as well. The cute art has a misty, picture-book quality.