Black God by Dall-Young Lim

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Black God by Dall-Young Lim

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Category: Graphic Novels
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: This will not help build anyone's interest in the style of manga, but it is a strong initial volume in a series new to these shores.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 224 Date: October 2007
Publisher: Yen Press
ISBN: 978-0759523494

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I can think of better ways to spend an evening. There's you at a takeaway joint when an oddly-dressed girl comes in and starts salivating all about your meal. You leave it to her, and she turns out to be hunted by some evil creature who takes your arm off. She replaces it with her own the morning after, only this practically ties you with her to carry on fighting these... things... in tandem.

I don't start this review like that to suggest the male character in this manga adventure is better defined and easier to empathise with than many others - he's not - but to show there is a vim and vigour to this series that many are lacking.

For those new to manga, they are a factory-produced phenomenon in the Far East. Stories will be spread over six volumes at the least, with tie-in television cartoons running parallel, and sequels here, there and everywhere are de rigeur.

If the typical manga fan can accept the lack of closure the genre always has, this book also has what she or he seeks. The fight scenes are nicely dropped in, the fantasy world of the fighting creatures ("mototsumitama") is nicely dovetailed into the realistic (starting with what has happened to our male protagonist's mother), the main girl has improbable hair, and there are the usual pictures drawn from low angles where you almost see her knickers. (As unsavoury as that blunt image may be, it seems important.)

The style of manga is also something unique to the genre, and this volume at hand is a particular example. The book is a straight translation from the Japanese, so has to be read the Oriental way - from the back, and from right to left in every panel. Sound-effects are left as the originals, so also get an Anglicised form and translation, so even the kinetic battle pages are hard to read at times.

If there are any manga fans stumbling on this Bookbag site, they should be told this is a very promising book one of a series that may well collapse into mediocrity, but at the moment stands as a great start to a series. The "side story" - a lengthy flashback to end, again with no real conclusion - promises there is scope for even such a seemingly-formulaic fighting fantasy series to improve on its humble genre origins.

Anyone who isn't a manga fan will just have to steer clear - this will not convert anyone. But as someone who dabbles in the world, I found more than enough of interest to give it four stars, and I thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag to sample.

We have the next book here.

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