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Takeru: Opera Susanoh/Sword of the Devil, Volume 1

Note:

This is one of those manga I chose because of the cover art. There was a lot of beautiful detail in the dragon on the character’s clothes, yet the coloring was done very tasteful-very simplistic. It was quite striking. So I picked up the book and read the first few pages. Loved it. Couldn’t put it down! Now I’ve read it twice, and I still like it a lot–even had a chance to analyze what I’d read before. The first read was just a quick run through–you know where you’re so into the book your eyes start tripping over the lines and you’re just pushing forward to find out what’s going on? Same here. It was really a good read.

My second time through I was able to better appreciate the artwork, since I wasn’t just focusing on the story. This is a well-rounded work of art, in addition to being a good story. If you have the chance to pick this manga up, I definitely suggest you do, because it’s funny, the art is amazing, and the story’s great!

Let’s get into the review, shall we?

*This review has spoilers. Proceed with caution!*

Takeru: Opera Susanoh/Sword of the Devil, Volume 1-Highly Recommended

Mangaka: Story/Kazuki Nakashima; Art/Karakarakemuri
Copyright: 2009 (translation)
Genre: Shounen, Fantasy, Comedy, Action
Chapters:

  • Chapter 1: Day of Meeting
  • Chapter 2: The Battle of Yomogahara
  • Chapter 3: The Queens of Jagara
  • Chapter 4: The Three Trials

 

Summary:

The two nations of Amamikado and Jagara on the brink of complete war: with Amamikado the aggressors attempting to take over all the Eastern Isles. Caught between this imminent battle are three men, all bearing the name of Takeru: Izummo, Kumaso, and Oguna. Each has their own reason for opposing the Amamikado–though none have yet revealed their grudge entirely. In an attempt to find the grand treasure, the sword of the gods, these three skilled fighters get caught up in a prophecy of the Jungle Warriors of Jagara. In order to save their own lives, and discover where the treasure they seek can be found, they agree to join forces with the Queens of the Jagara and face three trials to prove their worth. But before they can move forward with their plans, as strange woman stops time for all but these three to warn them of the dangers which lie ahead. Can the three rouges find what they desire, and help defeat the Amamikado?

Pros and Cons: Story and Content

Characters:

I can honestly say, I like all the main characters pretty well. I think Oguna’s my favorite…maybe that’s cause he’s kind of an asshole. I dunno. The three characters are marginally stereotypical–the quite one with a mysterious past (Oguna,) the loud brigand who’s a tough fighter but a softy at heart(Kumaso,) and the clever nimble guy (Izumo.) But even so, you really get to like the characters, and they are different from the cast of characters you’d find in a newer Final Fantasy role-play (not to say I don’t like the new FF games…just that sometimes their characters are  a bit…you know, the same.)

You can see that there’s gonna be plenty of room for these characters to grow and evolve. Already an ominous future has been predicted, and what will happen in the pages to come is bound to have a major impact on these protagonists. I really like how we still don’t know a lot about them by the end of the first volume, and yet you care to find out what their past is and what their future will be.

The Queens are pretty indepth, too. You’re not really sure what’s going on with them, but they are all unique. There is a sadness to Yamato, which makes one wonder why she is this way? What kind of person is she? They aren’t flat characters, so they help the story progress well.

You get this with some of the enemies, as well, but you don’t see as much of them, and so what they’re like is even more of a mystery for the most part. We get that Kibitsu is some kind of obsessive compulsive, and that they’re all pretty arrogant (King Otarashi and General Tanba, as well.)

One con is that some of the enemies are also kinda…a walking stereotype. Big time. Who am I speaking of?

General Fudaro. He’s such an ass…and is mostly ass. He’s loud, bossy, arrogant, gruff, and just an all around dick head. Your stereotypical bad guy bully. But he’s only in it for a short time, which shows his purpose was really only to introduce the main characters. So….it’s kinda like, you can see why he’s so flat, but it’s still like *sigh* another one o’ these bad guy types? Meh. It’s not big deal, cause the rest of the characters are pretty awesome. I foresee an enjoyable series ahead, even with my one character complaint.

.
Story:

I’m liking the story thus far. I mean, yeah, the battle of two great nations has been done before, but I like how there’s so much mystery shrouding the Jagara nation. It’s set in a jungle, a labyrinthine one at that, and is mystic with its rumored sword of the “devil” (though, in the story, it’s more referenced with the gods…maybe that’ll be explained later. Dunno yet.)

I also like the “amazonesque ” women. Hells yeah, these bitches kick ass! And they’re not all manly looking, either. They are strong, and feminine, at the same time. Usually when you see a strong woman, they’re all depicted as GI Jane. And yes, I see the point in this-it makes sense to have short hair in battle, so no one can use it against you by grabbing it, or it getting the way or whatever. But these chicks, you know they are muscular in their strength, while still having a feminine charm. They don’t have to be man-like entirely to be strong warriors and strong people.

If you can’t tell, I like the Jagara.

I like the Takerus, too. I’m really excited to see their future unfold and find out more about them. This story has a lot of action, good pacing, and an interesting story line. I can’t think of much to complain about the story, especially since things have only just begun.

It was also funny enough in some places to keep me laughing now and then. Now, this is by no means a comedy, but the Japanese are known for their ability to help keep things light hearted with a few witty comebacks and jokes here and there (besides their well handled actual comedic manga/anime–like you know, Samurai Champloo.) I like how it’s just snuck in there, it really adds to the story and the characters. Case in point? Well, look at pages 105 and 106. Well, on the first of these two pages, we have an example of just a little pun, which plays well off of Kumaso, who appears to be ever-so-slightly a simpleton (not by much, but he can be a little slow-eh?) Here they’re surrounded by the Jagara army, who tell them the only way they can be lead to their castle is if they’re relieved of their arms. Kumaso’s seriously thinking they want him to give up his arms. Took only one panel, but it made me laugh a bit, especially once you get to know his personality. And who knows? He may not be that stupid, it may be that he’s surrounded by a bunch of chicks who were willing to give up one of their own breasts just to be better archers.

Think of that, eh? So he’s not dumb, maybe he’s just over analyzing things.
Or I could be completely off. Heh, it’s just something to think about.

The other example I want to give is on the following page. We’ve all seen the classic 1980s films, like Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (and if you haven’t, shame on you!) or the 1990s Terminator 3 and Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves. There’s other examples, but in these films, there’s a scene where you see a character unloading all their weapons (or loading up on weapons.) Well, this same thing takes place here in this manga, which isn’t all that funny. After seeing that a million times, it gets kinda old. So what did I find funny? Good ol’ Kumaso. After Oguna’s been forced to dump out the rest of his weapons, we’ve got a scene of what all he had on him…and then Kumaso looking shocked saying “I don’t even wanna guess where he’s been keeping those” (106.) May not seem funny reading it here, but trust me, in the story, it’s kinda funny. Nothing to knock you out of your seat, but you’ll find witty retorts like that throughout. Helps make the story that much more enjoyable.

The one thing I did find annoying, was a lack of page numbers. This isn’t really something I can condemn the book for, since most people don’t care about page numbers, but for me, it was an annoyance because I like to cite pages and such. Soooo, for future reference–have some page numbers. Don’t make people have to count pages from the last chapter change! ARG! I lost count several times (probably just cause I’m stupid) and it was aggravating.

Pros and Cons: Art

Loved the artwork. Very skilled artist we got here. But then, I mentioned the art is what drew me to the book. Everything was screened well, and the people were well proportioned. In addition, there were some really impressive dynamic panels–drawn in various perspectives. I was really pleased to see the circular panel showing a close up of Fudaro (20.) Really, this was well done, and it helped to further create disgust for this gluttonous jerk. Really well done, and interesting style.

I found some other nicely dynamic scenes deeper into the story. Some of our first encounters with Kumaso show him as very powerful-a ground “shot” showing him from a low position (26.) This helps to really create a presence, while also giving him the appearance of great height. That movie Citizen Cane got praised a lot for similar scenes. Still working to this day. I liked it. If you check out the fight scene on page 44, where Izumo is taking out some guys, this is pretty impressive work, too. So different from many other manga I’ve read. Last example, is an unusual view of King Otarashi in the first panel of page 88–here he’s kinda shown from behind, and up, which I found intriguing.

Karakarakemuri knows what she’s doing, and she’s not afraid to use her talent to create diverse, dynamic, amazing scenes. I can find no complaints here. Sometimes those dynamic scenes are a little hard to understand or visualize, but this is a technique she’s using to demonstrate how fast or how skilled the movement of the main characters is/are.

I give her a score of 10! Bravo! Bravo!

Conclusion:

I’ve read this volume twice, so they must be doing something right! Seriously, I spent money I don’t have to get the second and third volume, and am looking forward to reading more. This series, I feel, is well worth any action lover’s time. And if you don’t like action, it’s still a pretty good read!

Takeru: Opera Susanoh/Sword of the Devil, Volume 1-Highly Recommended!

Citations:

Nakashima, Kauzki. Takeru: Opera Susanoh Sword of the Devil. Illstr. Karakarakemuri. Trans. Steven Paul. Vol. 1. Hamburg: Tokyopop, 2009.

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