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Sunday December 20, 2009

Incredible battles

WAQWAQ VOL.1

Story and art: Ryu Fujisaki

Publisher: VIZ Media; 192 pages

(ISBN: 978-1421527383)

For all teens

IN another world in a different time, man and machines were engaged in a fierce battle. The machines seemed to have gained the upper hand as humanity was forced to retreat underground.

To fight these machines, mankind depends on warriors called Guardians to protect them while they await the arrival of the Kami, a saviour who can grant one wish to one person.

One of these warriors is Shio’s father, who, unfortunately, is soon to meet a tragic end. In the aftermath of the battle against the machines, a mysterious girl is found, and the dying Guardian, along with passing his legacy to Shio, tells his son to protect the girl, believing that she is the Kami.

Rival Guardians now fight to gain control over her. But is this girl the prophesied Kami?

Yeah, it’s another “boy on a quest” shonen manga where boy hero fights his way to the top to prove his worth or whatever. The twist here is the addition of another popular manga theme: the “girl trapped in another world” genre, the kind you find in more famous manga like Fushigi Yuugi or Escaflowne.

But let’s get back to what matters most: the fight scenes. Holy. Crap. The fight scenes. Those are just the most insane thing this reviewer has ever read. They are mandala-like battles of gorgeously drawn mechs straight out of the game Zone of the Enders, and of Gurren Lagann heights of crazy. If you can’t understand that statement, let’s just settle for insane. It’s beautifully drawn and amazingly detailed; what the fights lack in choreography, the artist makes up for it with some stunning cinematic moments.

It’s all thanks to Ryu Fujisaki, who is more well-known for his manga Hoshin Engi. His skills in creating characters and mechs are evident here.

What about the characters? Shio, the hero, is a living ball of happiness who’s always looking on the bright side of life even after his father’s death. On the other hand, Matsuda (the real name of the supposed Kami) needs to be developed further as a character. Still, mystery surrounds her – who is she and where did she come from?

The chemistry between Shio and Matsuda, despite requiring more work, is charming; the two play off each other quite naturally.

The Guardians themselves are unique, what with their superpowers and their strange motives to gain the Kami.

Therefore, it is rather unfortunate that Waqwaq lasts only four volumes. The manga boasts many unique twists and its “Dragon Ball meets Escaflowne” story shows a lot of potential too.

Recommended for Hoshin Engi fans and completists, as well as those looking for more insane mech action since Gurren Lagann.

(Rating: 4)

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