Monday Manga Reviews: oh…and…some manhwa too!

Basara vol. 16
Story & Art: Yumi Tamura
Translation: Lillian Olsen
Adaptation: Gerard Jones
Publisher: Viz

There was a series called Chicago that I highly enjoyed when Viz ran their Animerica Extra Magazine. When I found out that Yumi Tamura had another series called Basara I jumped on from volume one and now I seem to be playing catch-up. This is probably one of the defining shojo titles of the 1990s, so don’t let the artwork keep you away from checking out this title. The story takes place in an apocalyptic future where evil kings rule and have tight grips on their kingdoms and peasants using murder and destruction. When Tatara, the Child of Destiny is murdered it’s up to his twin sister Sarasa to dress up like her blessed/cursed dead brother and lead the peasants to revolt in this world. After years of waiting Sarasa has finally clashed with Red King and her identity has been revealed. Now comes the aftermath of the epic battle. Basara is more than just your typical Shojo manga. Sure, there are drop-dead gorgeous guys, love interests, and cuteness abounds, but the character development and the intricacies of the plot are much deeper than the pretty exterior implies. Sarasa’s quest to become a leader and come into her own as a person is fascinating, and the potential there are plenty of plot twists that even after 16 volumes still catch me off-guard. This is shojo at its finest. Intelligent, powerful, and inspirational are just a few words that come to mind. I know it may not look like your thing or your particular art style you enjoy, but I guarantee you will love it if you give a few volumes a try. A

Chunchu: The Genocide Fiend vols. 1 & 2
Story: Kim Sung-Jae
Art: Kim Byung-Jin
Translation: Jay So
Publisher: Dark Horse

I couldn’t wait to start reading this book because of those badass looking covers. I had no idea what kind of story I was getting into when I flipped through the book and saw the action heavy art. It is a time of chaos when the kingdoms of the Mirmidon and Yoong clans have been at war for the last three years, but all of this havoc ends when Chunchu, a Mirmidon soldier, kills the chief of the Yoong. Chunchu, seems to be the cursed child of a prophecy that was foretold the day him and his twin brother were born. While his own father wanted to kill the supposed cursed Chunchu, his mother spared his life and sent him to live with another general in Mirmidon army. He is now tortured by the demons that are in him and hunted down by his twin brother, Woolpaso. I ended up loving this Manhwa, while the story is not the most original or thought provoking the art really carries the reader and puts us in the middle of the brutal battles. While it hasn’t been as gory as Blade of the Immortal or Berserk, there is still plenty of violence to make the weak of heart to look away. Byung-Nin is a fantastic storyteller and knows when to zoom in to get facial expressions or haunting looks. He also knows how much action is needed in the battle fields to balance out the heavy dialogue. I have to say the translation is probably the weakest part of the story. While I had no problem with the main dialogue, some of its colorful dialogue seems a bit forced. Now I have no problem at all with vulgarity, but for some reason it just doesn’t seem to fit with the essence of the story. It was still an enjoyable story that makes you want to know what happens next. B

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