Story by Miyuki Miyabe and Art by Yoichiro Ono
Released in the U.S. by ToykoPop
Slugline: For once, a manga about a video game player whose game has not come to life (yet) .
It's a sad situation when I read the outline for the story on websites and they talk about this epic journey on the part of the main character Wataru, which I presume is the main thrust of the series? I say presume because there is not a single hint at the end of the first volume that Wataru is even thinking of, let alone packing for, an epic journey. I know manga takes some time to get going, but if that is going to be the main arc of the series, at least drop some hints by the end of the first volume. Yes, there is some need for setup, but by same token one of the tenets of writing is to start as close as possible to the main action of the story. Sure, there is action in this volume, but now I am not sure if it really was there for any particular reason other than that you need to beat something up in every episode of a shonen story.
The one bit of the story I found interesting was the conflict within Wataru about his parents' unfolding breakup, divorce, and his father's apparent abandonment of him. It is the process of currently trying to deal with those tragedies which is interesting, rather than it being some abstract tragedy in his past. Everyone has a tragic past in manga; it is watching the present that is engaging. Interesting contrast between the two main characters here: one has a father who can't let go and the other has one that can't hold on.
Maybe in the next volume things kick in and the 'real' story begins. You know, I have often found stories which go immediately into a lost world, so that the main character leaves his life, sort of annoying in that we don't see the character in his more normal state before he is thrown into the deep end and we don't have anything to compare his behavior to. Here, the fact that we get to see the character in his normal state makes it feel like a lie since we know (thanks to the outline) that it is soon going to all go out the window. If they had timed it better, maybe so it kicks in at the end of this volume so we are building up to it, I would be more forgiving. Despite this being a solid title with some interesting character bits, I am still pretty annoyed at it.
Brave Story, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.
(That's too bad. I like the cover design. - Miranda)