Thursday, February 9, 2012

Review: RRR

I'm not really a big fan of sports manga. Usually, the action is either not believable, the characters talk to each other too long between swings, or the "miracle last second buzzer beater" shot is just too miraculous. On the other hand, I do like the works of Mitsuru Adachi because it's not really so much about the sport as it is the light-hearted interactions between the characters in daily life. So, while I will read sports manga, it's not because I'm a fan of them or of the sport itself.

(Image from Manga Fox. All rights belong to their owners. Image used here for review purposed only.) (Not sure why the image isn't showing up.)

RRR, by Jun Watanabe, Grade: B+
RRR is short for "Rock'n Roll Ricky", the main character. Rikitarou is a slacker who's managed to slide through life so far. He's a guitarist for an average rock band, and he spends his free time with his girlfriend. But, his carefree attitude finally catches up with him as first his girlfriend drops him for holding back her career, and his band gets signed to a recording agency without him. The worst is about to happen, though, as his older sister dies and the rest of the family refuses to take in her young son. Riki shoulders the burden, but loses his part-time job over having to have the boy at work with him.

At the same time, Japan's top boxer, Oishi, decides to retire out of boredom with the sport, and agrees to host a reality TV show aimed at finding new boxing talent. One night, Oishi is walking past a bar where Rikitarou has gotten into a fight. Riki gets pummeled, but he shows a spark of a kind. Later, Riki goes to a workout gym to lose the gut he's been carrying around, and it just happens to be the gym where Oishi's TV show is being filmed. Through a series of coincidences, Riki then finds himself on the path to becoming a pro boxer while simultaneously acting as a single father to his sister's orphaned kid.

RRR starts out slowly, spending a little too much time on Riki's personal life leading up to the point that the first few introductory boxing matches start. The artwork is very good and the character designs don't look like that of other artists. The backgrounds and fight sequences are also high quality. It's the drama that I don't like, as Riki's boxing partner gets all wrapped up in his own problems, or the child Riki is raising overreacts to his uncle's getting pounded in the ring. Fortunately, so far, none of the characters spend 5 pages taunting each other between swings. There haven't been that many serious matches as of volume 6, but the fights that have been covered have looked pretty brutal. The action artwork is believable, and the punches that connect look like they hurt.

Watanabe has also drawn Emblem Take 2, Kibun wa Super Tough and Montage. I haven't read any of these, but I've at least seen the name for Take 2 before. And his character designs are very recognizable.

Summary: A slacker and a pro boxer team up on a Japanese reality TV show to turn out one of Japan's next new championship-level boxers. Recommended.

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