A new year is coming in a few days but that’s no reason to not look back on the past and remember. Now through the 1st of January, the Maryland Science Center is hosting RACE: Are We So Different. Taking the difference we see every day and showing us how those differences are a source of strength, community and personal identity. And in the light of our differences and the New Year, we are going to cover a manga that deals with differences and new beginning. This last manga of 2012, we cover Kongou Banchou.
It’s the end of the year. Spontaneity is allowed in this case, and this manga is certainly something difference and random. Kongou Banchou is a shonen manga created by Nakaba Suzuki. The manga was made to not take itself very seriously, which is one of its high selling points. Enter the main character Akira Kongou, whose mission is to destroy the “23 District Project.” Right off the back, you realize the world these people live in is not one of average people. These “banchou” involved in this project come with ridiculous powers that are usually defined by the banchou’s title name. And as stronger and stronger banchous appear to thwart Kongou Banchou’s endeavors, whether he’ll be able to actually stop the project comes into question. And from the first volume on, you know the plot. Finding this refreshing as there are really no hidden agendas, the plot is dropped right in your lap from the first chapter onward. The guess work of the plot goes onto exactly how he’s going to stop it, seeing as Akira is not a participant in the project at first. It does not keep you guessing for long though as one battle usually finds itself flowing nicely into another. But it also takes more to be a shonen than all action. After all, stories with just action aren’t very good stories. Within the manga is the underlying humor that breaks the serious nature of combat and makes you chuckle.
As for the characterization, there’s a lot of it. However, unless the characters are actually fighting under Kongou Banchou, everyone else is kind of put on the back burner. Which is fine. Nothing make you lose interest in a story faster than all backstory and no forward progression. But the story presents a fair amount of characters that you do want more backstory on. On the characterization of those that we do have backstory on, we get to see a good deal about them and why they “fall so hard” for Kongou Banchou. That includes his enemies who are charmed by his Hot Blooded Manliness and his iconic catch phrase, “Like I Care!”
Being a manga that focuses heavily on the action, the art has to be able to keep up with the story. One of the dynamic points of this manga is that there a classic shonen manga style used to build the world. By classic, it means to refer to a style used primarily in the 90s and before. This comes with a fair amount of irony since the manga was made in 2007. In that, the style suits the theme. There is no great detail or dramatic emphasis on shading and background like we would find in a fair amount of mangas nowadays. However, there is a classic charm to it that sort of reminds of mangas like Dragon Ball. In addition, since the manga focuses on its action, that’s where the art truly shines as you watch these impossible scenes play out in a somewhat hilarious but awesome nature.
While this shonen isn’t as popular as Naruto or Bleach, it is definitely a gem. Even if you weren’t alive to witness the 80s and early 90s, this manga will take you back while still being enjoyable and attention hooking. And while the plot is simple, you can be sure it develops in an interesting way to keep you reading. But as always, check it out for yourself. And hoping to have more animes and mangas to review for you guys in 2013. Happy New Year.