Saturday, November 5, 2011

Manga Shorts: Broken Blade

As I mentioned back in the review for the movies, I started reading this series back in the beginning of the year when it was given a passing mention in the end of the year round-up on AnimeNewsNetwork and discovered a few months later that the manga had been licensed at one point by CMX. Only three volumes were put out before their closure, and must not have been that popular since you can still find them online for very reasonable prices, but it's one of the few mecha series I really enjoy and the only story I currently follow, maybe because (despite the flashy battles), it's a bit more down to Earth than the rest of the genre.

Broken Blade (Break Blade) by Yunosuke Yoshinaga
  
In the future, presumably after a civilization destroying war, Japan looks very different from the way it does today and the people are a bit different as well. The landscape is sandy and barren and the people all have the ability to manipulate crystal quartz, some better than others, and all technology is built around this talent. This is a problem for Rygart however, he and his brother are "un-sorcerers" who live as farmers far away from anyone else. Rygart is friends with the king [of Krishna] and jumps at the chance to come to the capital and help them study an ancient mecha they recently unearthed that no one has been able to move. Surprise surprise, it requires someone who can't manipulate quartz to pilot it, Rygart falls into the cockpit and figures out how to manipulate it enough to prevent his friend the king from being killed by a former friend who is the son of that country's leader. This is the first strike in the war between Krishna and Athens, a war that is both bloody (no bloodless deaths here!) and one that has the characters constantly questioning their decisions. The anime covered about the first 50 chapters, after that the manga even has a subtitle added to it, and it's clear that manga-Rygart has had a harder time and it becoming a much colder character, something that doesn't usually happen in anime or manga (or if it happens then it's only in backstory, not in the main story). The manga also introduces a third faction, the Kingdom of Orlando who claim to be supplying help to Krishna but plan to invade them should they succeed in staving off Athens (who are invading because they need the resources). That also gives the war a bit of messiness that is present in all wars in real life but rarer in fiction and I like that. The story is also developing it's odd, broken love-triangle a bit more (I believe this is the first time I've seen a story set after the love-triangle was resolved and when all the characters are unhappy at the solution) and I just hope that sub-plot at least will have a happy ending.
In short, the story does a few things differently, from character development to setting, and I like it when stories do things differently so I'm hooked. The fight scenes also are drawn very nicely and it's only a full, multi-person battle that lasts more than a chapter, this is another monthly series that understands the pace it needs to keep to work. I would love it to get relicensed but, since that seems rather unlikely, I'll just have to see if it's being published in English in any other region.     

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