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Title:
  MR vol 2 (of 15)

Distributor:  VIZ Media

Author:  Nobuyuki Anzai

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):  5.99

Number of Pages:  200

ISBN:  978-1591169031

Reviewed:  27th December 2008

Reviewer:  Rich (Webmaster)

 

I wasn't that impressed with MR vol 1 and would no doubt have completely ignored volume 2 if I hadn't watched the MR anime.  For some reason the anime worked a lot better than the manga and gave me a bit more enthusiasm for it, so when I saw volume 2 in my local library I decided to give it a go.

Most of my issue with volume 1 was that it was very by-the-numbers and seemed to be cynically targeted at a specific type of young manga fan.  Volume 2's start did nothing to shake these feelings either.  Ginta and Jack search for the Dimension RM that brought Ginta to MR Heaven, and in the process Babbo gets stolen by random thieves once again.  Ginta and Jack's pursuit of these stereotypical thugs brings them into contact with Alviss, the man who summoned Ginta, who then proceeds to explain important plot points about why he brought him.  Apparently MR Heaven is facing a terrible battle, a group calling themselves the Chess Pieces once brought the world to its knees before being beaten by a champion from another world.  Now the Chess Pieces are back and Alviss has summoned a new otherworlder - namely Ginta - to fight against them.  The plot out of the way, it's back to standard fantasy slog as Ginta, Jack and Babbo meet Edward, a talking dog who is looking for someone to help him save a princess.  The princess is frozen in ice and there's an evil Queen and...zzzzzzz.... <snort> sorry, dropped off there at the sheer predictability of the story.  Did I mention that the princess looked like Ginta's classmate Koyuki?  No?  Well she does, which makes Ginta want to save her even more.  However, to do so he will need to get past two Chess Pieces that are there to take her to the evil queen.  Ginta is facing his most deadly battle since arriving in MR Heaven, and one that may finally make him realise what kind of a threat the world faces...
 

Just when I was about to give up on MR it manages to partially redeem itself.  For the most part this volume, like the first, is completely formulaic fantasy action.  You have generic thugs, you have a magical castle, a princess to rescue and a sinister opponent to face.  There's lots of cheesy friendship speeches and childishness, but when the Chess Pieces show up it gets a hell of a lot better.  The first inkling that the series may have something more to offer is Alviss, a mysterious and powerful man who has a troubled past.  His introduction changes the focus of the story from exploration to fighting.  Suddenly Ginta isn't travelling in this wonderful fantasy world idly looking for a way home, but a warrior brought to protect the people of MR Heaven and his role will take him into direct conflict with the Chess Pieces.  It then returns to type until Ginta comes up against the Chess Pieces in the princess' castle.  This is where it suddenly gets good.  For once Ginta is in real danger and for once there's a sniff of a slightly interesting plot rising from the mire of predictability.

 The new, more grown up plotline is joined by new, more grown up characters.  Alviss may be young, but he's older than Ginta in more ways than one, and the Chess Pieces and mysterious experienced warrior Alan bring a maturity to the story.  The characters are generally quite interesting, although Ed the

dog is a bit pants and Princess Snow is pretty useless too.  The Chess Pieces are interesting, especially the bizarre Halloween and vicious Ian, but Alan steals the show along with the witch Dorothy who shows a bit more of a dark edge to her character.  The artwork also seems to improve this time round, with far more detailed backgrounds and better drawing of the action scenes.  Even Babbo is starting to get a bit more likeable.

This volume is still a bit of a mixed bag, with over half of it being pretty much the same old tired kiddie fantasy from the first volume.  However, when some actual peril and some decent characters are injected it really picks up.  Whereas before the story was pretty aimless, all of a sudden there's a villain, henchmen, an evil plot and a cause for Ginta to fight for.  It's when this happens that MR vol 2 becomes worth reading and I will probably even pick up the next volume.  It's still not quite there as an action series, and it is still aimed at a younger audience than many Shonen series, but it's starting to look a little bit more interesting.

Extras 

Not much.  A few adverts are joined by a message from the author, a next volume preview and a short one-page bonus manga about Nobuyuki Anzai's assistants.

Ratings

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