BRAVE STORY • Miyuki Miyabe (original creator), Yoichiro Ono (art) • TOKYOPOP (June 2007) • Coamix (Weekly Comic Bunch, 2004-ongoing)• 13+
Miyuki Miyabe’s novel about a teenager who goes into a fantasy world to save his mother’s life combines high-fantasy adventure with real-world drama. VIZ released Miyabe’s original novel in July; meanwhile, TOKYOPOP brought out the manga, a long-running adaptation by Yoichiro Ono (Revenge of Mouflon). Wataru, a boy whose greatest skill is playing video games, discovers a gateway to a magical world named Vision. Like the video games he plays, Vision is full of monsters, wizards, and quests; but Wataru soon discovers that he is not the first Earthling to come to Vision, and the other one, transfer student Ashikawa, becomes Wataru’s fierce rival. Ono’s realistic but distinctly shônen manga art style anchors Brave Story in the tradition of other shônen fantasy worlds: Beet the Vandel Buster (though Ono is a much better artist), Dragon Ball and Takeshi Obata’s Blue Dragon Ral Grado. Like the novel, however, things quickly take a dark turn, with divorce, suicide and other serious subject matter which makes getting eaten by Spiral Wolves look like a better fate than the bad things which can happen on our side of the dimensional barriers. The juxtaposition of fantasy and reality has been done before (as in Peter Straub and Stephen King’s even more mature The Talisman), but it’s a well-executed and engaging manga which stands on its own without the novel. (Review by Jason Thompson – originally printed in Otaku USA magazine.)
I’m out of the country until April 18, so all the winners of “365 Days of Manga” between then and now will be announced after I get back. Please keep entering the contest, there will still be a winner a day, I’ll just be announcing them all at once!