Sat, 9 August 2008
Manga Review of Rose Hip Zero Volume 2 by Tohru Fujisawa. Translated by Emi Onishi. Adapted by Michael French. Originally published by Kodansha in Japan. Published in US by Tokyopop, $10.99. Rated Mature 18+ for mild sexuality, intense violence, excessive gore, and moderate fanservice.
Shohei and Asakura, alias Rose Hip, were almost killed by the crazed psycho who called himself "The Sheep" (uh, is that a reference to Silence of the Lambs or what?). But Asakura was able to defeat him and hand him over to police custody. But we found out at the end of the last volume that the Sheep was just a lackey of "The Shepherd". His intent is to kill Asakura because he feels she is standing in the way of his "cleansing" of Tokyo. What he means by cleansing is to get rid of all the scum. And the Shepherd's definition of scum is politician (don't know if I completely disagree with that). He's bored, sick, and tired of the current corrupt government that is running the show. He probably intends to extend his program to the whole country after he takes care of Tokyo. He has planted what amount to sleeper cells all across the city by using post-hypnotic suggestion. All it takes is a spoken word, whether it be in person or over a phone, to turn a normal person into his mind controlled slave. He even makes one of Shohei and Asakura's teachers blow her brains out! The dude is not messing around. Help arrives in the form of Natsuki Kuonji, who, just like Asakura, was trained to be a killer from an early age. But she isn't called the "Angel of Mercy" like Asakura, who never takes lives. Natsuki's nickname is "Bloody Angel" and also "Kiss Maniac Natsuki", and she is much more prone to take people out with her weapons. Just from their names, you can tell these two girl's methods of dealing with criminals is going to be like fire and ice. But Asakura, Natsuki, and the Shepherd share a connection. They were all raised by a league of assassins called ALICE.
John Keats once said that a thing of beauty is a joy forever. I'm tempted to use that in reference to Tohru Fujisawa's art. He's just great. Fujisawa achieves the perfect balance between highly detailed characters, liberal use of elaborate backgrounds, excellent action scene layouts, sympathetic characterization, and sexy women. Don't worry ladies, he draws pretty guys for you as well. We get more of a feel of Asakura's disconnect in this volume when we learn that she lives alone and doesn't ever remember having a family. All she remembers faintly is that she was raised by the assassin organization called ALICE. Fujisawa does a good job of showing that from time to time, if not frequently, Asakura longs for a normal life, longs for a family, regular friends. Maybe at this point, Shohei is the closest thing to that dream. There's even a bit of romantic tension between the two as we get to see that most lovey dovey quintessential scene in manga, the "oops, I fell, making you fall on top of me, isn't this awkward, why are you blushing" scene. Great read, action packed. Not for kids though.
Here is the link to Podcast Episode 119 where I did a review of the first volume: http://sesho.libsyn.com/index.php?post_id=364248
(Is it just me or has Tokyopop been quietly raising prices on some of their titles to $10.99 even though you're not getting any more pages than the $9.99 books? Is this a page from ADV Manga? We all know where they are today, don't we?)
My Grade: A