Thursday, October 27, 2011

Review: Future-Retro Hero Story, vol. 2

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)


Future-Retro Hero Story, vol. 2, by Takehiko Itoh, Grade: B+
The madcap slapstick adventures continue. First, Juuji is unable to use the ship because it's going to take 5 years for recharging. He and some of his fellow classmates take on part-time jobs at a nearby family restaurant. Kouryuu, the power-mad teacher stops at the restaurant for lunch and deliberately gets Juuji to throw food at him in order to call the manager out and get Juuji fired. But, everything about the restaurant is too good to be true, from the plentiful portions of good, cheap food, to the fawning owner. Turns out that the boss is a robot that has traveled across the galaxy to set up Earth's first Sky Lark alien franchise as part of a takeover scheme. With his cover blown, the robot, Gooto, retreats to his orbiting death star (with both in-store seating, drive-thru and take-out windows) to force the world's leaders to eat non-stop free food. It's up to Juuji to get the ship running again with Azel's help (for magically powering the reactor), to take the battle to Gooto's doorstep.

(Juuji's wish comes true(?))

In chapter 2, Juuji is struck with a run of bad luck, so he looks for a machine in the ship that grants wishes. The first wish is for a date with Sakumi. A few seconds later, Sakumi arrives to ask him out (it's her father's idea to thank the boy for saving the world again). He takes the machine to school to show off to the class, but Kouryuu steals it and wishes for wealth and fame. He immediately gets a phone call from the States saying that the university there wants him back, since he just won the Nobel Prize. Unfortunately, as he's leaving the school, Kouryuu gets hit by a falling star. Roger rushes up, saying that the machine is really a wishing star summoner. If you wish for something too extreme, you'll get hit by a meteorite. Soon the city is under attack by wishing stars and Juuji has to scramble to find the machine to turn it off.

Hayato Ikazura, the PE teacher, takes the class to his hometown along the slopes of Mt. Fuji in chapter 3. His niece seems to be strangely attracted to Juuji's red hair. After having a nice bath in the outdoor springs and then a big dinner, the class prepares to go skiing on the slopes in the winter. Unfortunately for Juuji, this village and the neighboring one are celebrating a once in a thousand years event - the falling to the ground of a "stone made by god", which requires a sacrifice of a red-headed boy. The two villages fight over who gets to kill Juuji, until he's rescued by Hayato, who is just now remembering the purpose of the festival. Juuji gets his raygun and splits the meteor in two to give both sides each a half. A giant red pearl rolls out and the rival villagers yell out "you lose", then turn and leave. The two towns prepare to wait another 1000 years for another chance at the celestial lottery. But, because the stone was in a cave under Mt. Fuji, the ray gun blast causes the volcano to erupt, and the class needs a rescue team to pull them out of the rubble.

(Kouryuu, after watching Juuji eating mixed chocolates and blowing up.)

With chapter 4, Azel visits Juuji at home, and learns about Valentine's Day from the interloping robot Gooto. The two get into a feud over who can make the better chocolate, with Gooto teaming up with Sakumi to actually deliver the chocolates to Juuji. Kouryuu gets jealous at Juuji's receiving several more times presents than him, and schemes to poison the boy with paralyzing meds placed in some store-bought candies. When Azel and Sakumi arrive, Juuji can't move, and the two stuff magic-imbued, and technology-enhanced "love" down his throat. The result is an explosion that puts the boy into the hospital for 2 months.

(The principal and the evil sensei.)

The final chapter starts out with the school principal entering Kouryuu's secret lair in the school's basement, where the jealous teacher lets her in on his plans to build "Black Ryuu (dragon)" to shoot down Roger's ship. The principal (who's name is never given) goes along with the fantasy until Kouryuu describes her as laughing alongside him maniacally in an unfeminine way. The teacher is brought back to reality, but it's obvious that he at least has a functional ship engine built, so the principal agrees to help him with further work. Meanwhile, Juuji has slipped out of the hospital to try to get the Fortuner up and running again. He's accompanied by Gooto and Azel, who are a little panicked that he may recall what had caused the explosion 2 months earlier. Sakumi looks for him in the hospital, then tracks him down to the launchpad next to the school, and yells out that she's sorry that she and the other two had caused him to blow up. Juuji assaults Gooto and Azel, and as the sparks fly, Roger says that this brings him back to the civil war in the United Kingdom of Texas, which had resulted in the creation of the 51st State. Later, Juuji gets captured by his doctors and injected with antibiotics as revenge for having escaped them. In his room, Sakumi sees all the posters of airplanes and spaceships. She hands over her class notes from the lessons he'd missed, but they just contain insults from Kouryuu. Juuji returns to class the next day to shoot his teacher with his blaster, and discovers that Kouryuu now has a functioning anti-blaster suit of his own.

The last page is a fake preview for volume 3, drawn by Taku Koide.

Summary: Juuji gets into trouble as the owner of the Fortuner space ship, and has to save the world in his spare time. Kouryuu remains jealous, and Azel causes problems because she has too much free time. Good stuff. Recommended.

(Back cover detail.)

Note: Crossover jokes and cultural references show up in manga off and on. It's not something that happens all the time, but Tezuka loved putting in pictures of Batman, Superman and Godzilla in his stories back in the '60s and '70s, so there is a long tradition for it. On page 152, Sakumi is wearing a "Dragon Half" shirt.

The Sky Lark restaurant chain may be a tribute to E.E. "Doc" Smith, who wrote the first real space opera SF. He created the "Lensmen" and "Skylark" series.

On page 210, Juuji has a large rubber ducky hanging from his ceiling with "USS Entepi" printed on the side.

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