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Mega Manga Challenge (5): Arata: The Legend, vol. 1 by Yuu Watase

>>Friday, August 19, 2011

Title: Arata: The Legend, vol. 1
Author: Yuu Watase
Demographic: Shonen
Series: Arata: The Legend
Format: Manga
Pages: 208
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: January 16th, 2009
Publisher: Viz
Rating: C+

From Goodreads: An action-packed shonen fantasy from the acclaimed author of Fushigi YĆ»gi! In a mythical world where humans and gods co-exist, Arata has the unfortunate honor of being the successor to the matriarchal Hime Clan. This means he has to pretend to be a girl or face death if his true gender is discovered! On the day of his inauguration, an assassination plot forces him to flee—and he somehow winds up in modern-day Japan! Meanwhile, a boy named Arata Hinohara gets sucked into the first Arata’s world and finds himself dealing with people after his life!

Why did I read this book? I saw it in the bookstore and decided to pick it up based on the fact it's by Yuu Watase!

Source: Bought

My Review
I picked this up because I read Fushigi Yuugi a long time ago, but remembered the great art and storytelling. Here Watase writes a story about a boy, two boys in fact, both named Arata. One is from another fantasy/medieval world where he's framed for murdering the princess. Upon fleeing into the woods, he is transported into our world. In exchange, Arata Hinohara, a bullied high school boy is transfered into the fantasy land. They look so alike that each other's families believe them to be the real Arata.

Of course, this idea to the story really opens it up for some laughs and intriguing plotlines. I like the idea of our world mixed with theirs and what each boy can do to effect our worlds together. Out of the two characters I really connected to Hinohara (the Arata from our world) because he is picked on at school so much that he runs through the alley wishing he could be somewhere else and he ends up in a fantasy land where he's mistaken for a suspected murderer. I found him really charming in his belief that people should be loyal and trustworthy. Arata (the one from the fantasy land) seems more mischievious and funny which plays well against Hinohara.

As for this volume, we only were really introduced to the characters and their new situation. I'm interested to see how this all plays out and what the greater consequences for the princess dying and the switch between the two Aratas.

Of course, I really loved the artwork. I think Watase's attention to detail is so thorough and this really comes out in the fantasy setting. I wish all the artwork was in full color because it would just be so vibrant.

Rating: C+
I think this was a good start to what can be a great manga. I like the idea of the two Arata boys being switched and I like the idea of contrasting worlds. Villains were identified and I can definitely see some issues popping up like: how does Hinohara deal with being mistaken for a guy who's framed for murder? What is the deal with the gods? The magic and mystical aspects of the story need to be developed more but I'm sure we discover that in the next volumes. I recommend this for peope interested in this kind of comedy fantasy and two male protagonists. As for where the story goes, we'll have to wait and see.

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