Friday, May 13, 2011

Review: Geobreeders, Atomic Attack

I apologize for not posting an entry yesterday. Blogspot was down for maintenance for the last two days. It has turned out to be a blessing in disguise, though. Initially I was just going to post the Geobreeders, vol. 6, summary as being the next one in line, but this gives me time to tackle something else instead.


("Intense meeting of the 2.")

Initially I wasn't even going to look at Geobreeders Atomic Attack, but then I finished off all of the other Geobreeders manga (including the 3 chapters of Part 3) and decided that there may be a hole in the middle of the storyline that AA may possibly plug. That, and it was only 100 yen ($1.20 USD) used from Book Off. AA is credited as being based on the work of Akihiro Itou with art by Isamu Imakake. Isamu has multiple animator and mecha designer credits for series including Nadia, Secret of Blue Water; Cowboy Bebop; Gundam 0080; Otaku no Video; and Top wo Nerae! Atomic Attack (AKA: A^2) ran in Monthly OURsLITE from 12, 2000 to 6, 2001. The character designs are nowhere near as sophisticated as Itou's, and come off as being much more cartoony. However, the backgrounds are still pretty detailed, and the action sequences are better than average (still not as good as Itou's, obviously).


(Isamu and Akihiro (maybe?))

Sidestories are by their very nature a distraction from the main work. Guest authors are restricted from doing anything to the headlining characters that can affect the primary storyline, and the result is usually the introduction of incidental characters that never reappear. However, this time it's a little different. Itou had tried to create a multimedia empire similar to that of .Hack, with different parts of the story being told in different formats. We see this in the "Rescue the Kitten" OAVs, and the tradition is continued in Atomic Attack. Although, probably the most important part of this sidestory is the 3-page interview at the end where Itou told Isamu what he wanted out of this collaboration. I can't be absolutely sure, but I'm guessing the photo accompanying the interview does indeed show the illusive one, albeit not very clearly.)



(All copyrights belong to their owners. Images used for review purposes only.)
(Pictured: Shimazaki, Maki, Yuka, Maya, Taba and Yu.)

Geobreeders, Atomic Attack, by Akihiro Itou and Isamu Imakake, Grade: B-
Taking place between volumes 5 and 6, Atomic Attack is ostensibly a battle between the were-cats that have taken over the Mahama Nuclear Power Plant, and the combination of government forces, led by Shimazaki to take it back. Shimazaki seems to be the leader of Group 6 Investigative Department and she does resurface in the main manga in volume 13. In with the action of the were-cats to keep the power plant online, and Shimazaki's tactical planning to crush the enemy, we also get to see what Vashuka was sent to Russia for. As I mentioned above, the character designs are exceedingly cartoonish, especially at the beginning, but the "look behind the scenes" at Kuro Neko and Vashuka more than makes up for it.


(Yuka, Taba and Maki.)

The story is set in "Showa 73" (1998; keeping in mind that the Showa era actually ended on Jan. 7, 1989). Kuro Neko's were-cats, under the command of Manx, have taken over the Mahama power plant and are cleaning up the bodies left over from the battle. Yuka, Taba, Maki and Maya are returning from Ayagane Labs. Eiko gets a check from Mahama's president and she calls Yuka to relay the new job request. The four try to enter the plant through the front door but they're severely outnumbered and they run away. That night, after some serious drinking, Taba gets concerned about the situation at Mahama, and Yuka and Maya drive with him to stake out the grounds. One of the were-cats notices them on a security camera and uses a payphone near the stakeout point to transmit himself over to chase Yuka and Taba to let off some stress. However, Maya uses the same phone to transmit herself into the plant to ask Manx to call the rogue were-cat off. Manx does so and warns Kagura to keep their noses out of this one (which they're more than willing to do since their check had gotten canceled). Kagura then packs up to drive out to Toyama, which explains why they're on a job in the snowy mountains at the beginning of volume 5.


(Eiko.)

Irie doesn't want to get Hound involved with Mahama right away, so Shimazaki is brought in to coordinate the government's various military forces in a tactical strike which could include using Patriot missiles as a last resort. However, she's being given a 24 hour deadline to work within. Meanwhile, in Russia, Vashuka meets up with a were-cat go-between who's contracted with a human arms dealer named "Arudero" to buy a helicopter along with a nuke. Arudero takes the money and double-crosses Vashuka. In revenge, Vashuka and her driver kill the go-between, Arudero's guards, and Arudero himself before taking over the arms's dealer's entire warehouse.


(Vashuka.)

Shimazaki has planned a 3-pronged "land-sea-air" assault against Mahama, and the clock ticks down to "zero hour". Her command post is set up in Mahama Park. Once Irie learns of this, he scrambles Hound's ground forces to the Park, led by Yoda. Irie tries to get into the Park himself, but the guards bar his entrance. Shimazaki meets him outside and they watch together as the fireworks start. A submarine fires dummy torpedoes containing frogmen into Mahama Bay, and the frogmen reach the outer walls of the plant to set up explosives. Manx's rogue assistant gathers a bunch of other impatient were-cats and sets up an ambush for them. The rogue engages the frogmen and both sides start shooting. Irie looks at Shimazaki, thinking that this had been included in the plans, and she replies that it's "for their honor". Zero Hour ticks off and the subs fire missiles at the plant as several air force fighters swoop in to drop their bombs on the target. There's a big fireball over the plant, and Shimazaki prepares to go off to the next part of the job. Irie tells her to go home, because there's been no request to rescue the survivors. She asks why, and he says that it's part of the job. As she returns to the truck, she orders her men to pull back. (She's last seen sitting despondently in the economy class section of a commercial flight somewhere.)



From the other side of a hill beyond the power plant, some waitresses walking out of an Akie's family restaurant notice that the hill is glowing. They call 119 (Japan's version of 911) and are told that it's ok, there's no problem with the plant. On the other hand, the plant's governing board is in a panic, watching the glow from their office building. Flares float to the ground around the plant, revealing dead soldiers, but the were-cats still seem to be ok. Manx gets a status report then tells his men to get ready. The fuel rods are safe, but as he surveys the wreckage caused by the bombing, he says that this is now a matter of pride.


(Irie.)

In the plant's main offices, one of the governing board gets a phone call saying that the Hounds have arrived, sending everyone in the room into a panic. The president quickly decides to hire Kagura Company again to come in and try saving things a second time. Kagura takes the call but they can't get to the plant in time. As Yoda is preparing to begin his assault, Manx's rogue assistant comes roaring up in a stolen tank and starts shooting. Manx is told that the power plant has been stabilized following the bombing and he orders everyone to bail out. The rogue gets the same order and transmits himself home over a mobile phone, leaving the unmanned tank to plow into the Hounds camp. Soon, the power plant goes completely dark and when Hound moves forward, is found to be totally empty. The next morning, the news reports that the power plant board has had to apologize for the loss of power to the city. The next story reports that a Russian tanker has been found in Japanese waters (presumably used to transport Vashuka's cargo). In the Kuro Neko HQ, Manx arrives as Maya runs out. Manx asks Vashuka how her job had gone and she replies that it was fun. Kuro Neko finishes off the chapter by saying that they're about to get really busy. (The implication is that Mahama was simply a ploy to distract attention from the cargo tanker.) The last pages says "Continued in volume 6".



Summary: Atomic Attack isn't as good as the regular Geobreeder's books, but it does fill in some holes, while also introducing Shimazaki. The artwork does improve towards the end, at least. Not really recommended, but if you are a Geobreeder's fan and you want to see Vashuka in combat, AA is a good investment.


(Ending credits, and ad for "150 tons of Dynamite" (AKA: volume 8).)

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