Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Manga Review: Cronos Haze

This review originally appeared on Organization of Anti-Social Geniuses.

Title: Cronos Haze
Genre: Action
Publisher: Futabasha (JP), Crunchyroll (US)
Story/Artist: Takano Masayuki
Serialized in: Manga Action
Reviewed: 7 out of 11 chapters
Review copy provided by Crunchyroll.

Readers could be forgiven for looking at this series, which involves fights using sentient “jackets” and the original publication date, and thinking “is this a Kill la Kill rip-off?” Since this series is a reboot of a 2001 title of the same name the answer is no and upon a closer look the details of these two series are rather dissimilar after all. In Cronos Haze, Touya aims to find out more about his missing father by attending the same high school he did, Amagiri Academy, and quickly discovers that this school is bizarre by anyone’s standards. The school possess mecha, the student body president wields a military gun, and as mentioned earlier some of the students fight using “jackets” which when not activated take the form of a person and change their appearance to suit their wearer. Despite all of it’s shonen trappings the series runs in Manga Action magazine which means it’s actually a seinen series although it hasn’t done anything that would feel out of place in a shonen manga aimed at 14 year olds yet.

When Touya isn’t on screen there’s a subplot emerging in the background: Gigantes is a group of beings who have ruled the world (secretly I assume) for centuries and Amagiri is the one group that has been able to oppose them, despite their supernatural abilities. The abilities themselves are a bit vague, all of the ones presented so far seem to be related to probability, but more confusing is the fact that they have never caught onto the fact that their mysterious nemesis shares a name with an enormous, famous school and then when they’re searching for the headquarters (tipped off that it might be found at sea) run straight into the island.

None of this is portrayed humorously, which therefore means that the readers are supposed to take these characters seriously, yet the series hasn’t explained why Gigantes and Amagiri are fighting each other besides making vague speeches about ruling the world. Touya is as flat as a protagonist can be, with the vague goal of “I want to learn more about my father” but shows no interest in actually doing anything and the side characters are nothing more than walking exposition speech bubbles (except for when the series indulges in some particularly pathetic fanservice, just because you had a girl in a guys dorm instead of the other way around doesn’t suddenly make it funny). The exposition is also among the worst I’ve ever seen, the series literally waits a few chapters and then has one, two-page monologue by a new character explaining everything he thought Touya already knew and it still doesn’t answer many key questions.

If you want a series with the characters uncovering complex, hidden schemes there are better series out there and there are also plenty of series which combine that with action as well. If it wasn’t for the fact that this is a reboot I would have assumed Cronos Haze was a manga-ka’s first work where they were really passionate about their story but had no storytelling skills. As it stands I’m scared to look at what they’ve created in the 13 year gap between these versions.

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