Original Story by Ryo Hoshino, Art by Ariko Itou with Original Character Design by Nao Goto
Released in the US by TokyoPop
Slugline: As a prequel, this manga reminds me of The Phantom Menace
This manga is the prequel of the anime title The Third, another anime title that I have not watched (hrm, I wonder if there is a pattern) so I have to look at this title as is, not as a teaser for the anime. Hundreds of years into the future after a war the majority of the world is desert, and Honoka , who suspiciously habitually wears a bandanna, is a beginning Dune Runner. Dune Runners are the guides and guards of the desert, but Honoka is still working out her approaches and gaining experience. This volume is basically a series of vignettes as she helps her clients and learns about herself.
Back to the slugline, for us old school fanboys, when we went into to see The Phantom Menace, we were subconsciously comparing it to our memories of the original series, which had achieved an unrealistic perfection over time. I got that feeling in reading The Third, that somehow that as a prequel it was not as powerful or simply as well structured as the anime it is based on. The writing and art itself is competent, but it just seems to lack a unifying plot or theme to bind it together. Maybe the characters that were introduced in this volume show up in the anime, and you needed to know that in order to bind the plot together, but at that point that is information outside of manga that I had no way in knowing, especially if I just picked this manga off a store's bookshelf.
The Third, vol. 1 is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.