Friday, September 7, 2012

Commentary: Dragon Age

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

Monthly Dragon Age, 650 yen, 870 pages.
First published in 2003, Dragon Age is from Fujimi Shobo, publisher of Monthly Dragon Comic and Monthly Dragon Junior.  It's a big phonebook, and the special freebie illustrated booklet for High School of Dead and Triage X adds another 100 pages to the total. The booklet contains pencil sketches of artwork from both series, along with the finished pieces.  Not all that great, unless you're a HSoD fan.  Dragon Age is aimed at college students, with fantasy, combat, school life, horror and gag genres. The character design and art styles are mostly above average. A fair amount of violence but only some occasional etchi scenes. DA would fall somewhere between PG-17 and R for western readers.

Past titles include:

Tenchi Muyo!
Slayers Revolution
Scrapped Princess
Orufina Saga

Current titles western fans may recognize are:

Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka
High School DxD, Ichiei Ishibumi (Original Story) and illustrated by Miyama-Zero. Fairly interesting high school combat story with average artwork but some reader service setups. Issei Hyodo is a student who dies and finds himself as an attendent to a devil family, forced to do combat by his master, one of the female students at the school.
Triage X, a continuation of the High School of the Dead concept.

Worth mentioning

(Taiteito Etoranze Sousasen)

Taiteito Etoranze Sousasen (Great Capital Stranger Investigation Line), by Anno Nanakamado. This series just started, reaching chapter two in this issue. A rather inept young guy works in an investigation department, using various power users that he arrests to go up against a master criminal with fire powers.  Rather silly, but great artwork and character designs that are very reminiscent of Needless.

Omamori Himari, by Milan Matra

(Gun x Clover)

Gun X Clover, by Mikoto Yamaguchi. Only on chapter 5. Good artwork, decent battle scenes. An unranked student at a school for escort bodyguards is assigned to a client whose bodyguards die like flies.

(The Unforgiving Flowers Blossom in the Dead of Night)

Higanbana no Saku Yoru ni (The Unforgiving Flowers Blossom in the Dead of Night), by Ryukishi07 and Ichiro Tsunohazu.  Ryushiki07 originated the When the Seagulls Cry concept so you know Higanbana isn't going to be a normal tale. Yokai that control the "7 school mysteries" fight amongst themselves for control of the school.  (Note: Every school in Japan has its "7 mysteries", like the ghost in the toilet, lights that mysteriously turn on in the dead of night, etc.)

Rising Rydeen, by Yoichi Hatsumi and Renji Fukuhara.  High school boy who wants to be a power user gets recruited into an organization of weird power users.  Series is only on chapter 4. Good artwork, slightly cartoony character designs. Some etchi setups and reader service.

(Bakumatsu Alien)

Bakumatsu Alien, by Sutahiro.  Another series that just started and is too new to have a review written on it yet. Set in the Bakumatsu era (end of the Tokugawa era), the story recounts Ryouma Sakamoto's encounter with an alien, in this case apparently a girl from the future.  Marginal artwork. I just wanted to show a scan of someone losing a sword fight.

Summary: Dragon Age is a big magazine, and it has quite a few stories, although I only like a couple of them. There are too many to mention, and some don't have descriptions written up in English yet, so it's hard for me to follow them from just 1 chapter. The artwork and character designs are generally above average, and most of the reader service doesn't really step over the edge into hentai territory (but a few try to come close).  Again, we're talking P-17 or R ratings in the U.S.  Taiteito Etoranze Sousasen is the one that shows any real promise that I'd want to follow long term.  I'd recommend DA only to those fans of Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka, or HSoD.

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