Summer is upon us, which means that at some point over the Christmas break it’s conceivable I’ll be dragged away from the doona-nest in my bedroom (where I’ve been binge-watching television through the colder months) in order to spend some time at the – *shudder* – beach.
I’ve been looking for a new manga series to occupy my time while soaking up the sun in a non-Kindle appropriate environment, and picked up a couple of recent volumes to try and find something worthy of binge-reading…
Dimension W, a Japanese manga series written by Yūji Iwahara and licenced in America by Yen Press, is set in a version of the future where a fourth plane of our world – with an endless supply of energy – has been discovered. The series was first published in Japan in 2011, and the first volume from Yen Press was published in February 2016.
It’s 2072 AD and New Tesla Energy has invented cross-dimensional electromagnetic conductors, called “coils, that have effectively solved the world’s energy crisis. But the use of coils is tightly controlled, so unregistered coils are hot property on the black market. Kyouma Mabuchi – inherently distrustful of the technology, and driving his ‘vintage’, gas-powered car – is a Collector, whose job it is to hunt down illegal coils and get them off the market.
When Kyouma is sent on what appears to be an ordinary mission, he comes up against a mysterious young woman with super strength named Mira. The two are continuously thrown together, and their meeting sets off a chain of events that will bring them both closer to the secrets behind New Tesla Energy and Dimension W itself.
Dimension W uses that classic ‘odd couple’ pairing of a crotchety, luddite man with an adorable android girl. But, while they are familiar archetypes, the characters are enjoyable. They both have their own motivations – plus mysterious backstory – and thankfully the reader isn’t given all the answers in Volume 1.
The series introduction offers up a number of competing storylines, and does a good job of balancing their weight. The downside is that the first volume also includes a lot of information dumps, exposition, and unbelievable techno babble.
The story is set up so that you suspect Volume 2 will have a lot more to offer. However, while Dimension W is enjoyable enough, it doesn’t leave you unable to carry on with life until you find out what happens next. No cliff-hangers here.
Volume 5 of Dimension W will be released March 2017.
Warning: Platinum End contains content that may be triggering for some readers.
Platinum End is another Japanese manga series, written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. If those names look familiar, it’s because they’re the powerhouse team behind Death Note. Platinum End is licenced by Viz Media in the UK, and the chapters have been released digitally in English as they are published in Japan – what a globalised media world we live in!
If you want something Death Note-y, you’re in for a treat with Platinum End. In many ways the first volume of Platinum End follows the reverse story of Death Note, but we still get a selection of moody young men and un-empathetic supernatural beings.
Mirai is a young man who has been raised by cruel and abusive relatives. The first volume opens with his attempt to take his own life – but he is thwarted after being rescued by a perky guardian angel named Nasse. Nasse explains that he is one of thirteen humans who have been chosen to compete to take over the role of God, and gives him tools to help him compete for the title. He is given wings, that allow him to fly anywhere, and magical arrows that can either make any person fall in love with him, or kill them.
Like Death Note, the reader gets the feeling that the series will explore the ability of absolute power to corrupt; and like Death Note, the supernatural creatures of the series – this time angels, as opposed to shinigami, or gods of death – remain wholly inhuman. In Death Note, the viewer isn’t at all surprised to see that the shinigami are morally detached. It’s quite a bit more unsettling in Platinum End to see the bright and smiling Nasse casually suggesting murder to her protégé.
Platinum End is fairly graphic and violent – think skewered necks and orgies in the back of limousines – but still has the morally ambiguous characters and beautiful artwork that readers expect from Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
Volume 2 of Platinum End will be released March 2017.
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