Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Full Contact

I found this one online a while back, decided to give the first chapter a try and see what I thought. It didn't strike me as anything special, but when a new chapter came out I read that one as well. I found it was fairly enjoyable, and decided to read it through from the beginning, so I could make more sense of what was going on.

Keep in mind, this manga isn't available in the states, but then again a lot of the manga I read isn't. I'm thinking about making a segment called "Manga that isn't available in the States but should be." Let me know if anyone can think of a shorter name.

You might be wondering, why isn't this review part of that segment?

Well, you'll find out soon enough.

And it isn't that I hate this manga, it's just that I'm mostly apathetic to it. Normally I try to remain as positive as possible (unless of course something really ticks me off, as it did this week...but I won't get into that. Just let me say this, you know how the nostalgia critic's berserk button is "A Bat Credit Card"...yeah this one is pretty much my new berserk button). But in this case, I found too many little mediocrities that I felt I had to point them out (mostly to keep my credibility as a reviewer).

The manga is a light read. The chapters are longer, but there are only 16 chapters. So read it if you don't want to invest much time.

I started reading around chapter 6, to the end, then decided to start from the beginning. It has some pretty good humor, but doesn't stack to series like HSDK, FT and OP. For a martial arts series it's kind of disappointing, as very little focus is placed on the martial art, and there are some glaring errors, such as a character saying a boxer needs gloves to make their punches hurt. I thought the point was that gloves made the punches hurt less, not more.

When I read from the beginning, I noticed that a lot of what I'd taken for granted, hadn't actually gotten any proper development. Around chapter 9 I noticed the typical "tsundere with a secret crush" (isn't that the definition of tsundere?) character hadn't actually had any prior development in her character to suggest this. In fact, she'd hardly had any screen time at all. It was almost like the author decided to add that in halfway through. And after the few chapters she was in, she has yet to make another appearance. The most recent chapters all seem to be focusing on minor characters' traumatic pasts. Why does this manga feel like a breeding ground for Mary-Sues?

The art style is generic, but clean and well done. Its generic-ness is both its fatal flaw and saving grace. While it doesn't distract from the story with sheer horribleness, it also doesn't wow me in any way.

The backgrounds are another issue. In that they don't exist. This series is a shonen series, but frankly the art is more reminiscent of shoujo art styles. Keep in mind I haven't read much shoujo, so I can't say I'm an expert, but those that I have read, or glanced at, all share a striking resemblance to this series.

The manga's strong point really is its side characters - in that they're slightly more interesting than the lead. The main character, and his possible love interest, are both fairly bland. Where the main character falls through for me is his lack of motivation. It's not that he doesn't have motivation, it's just that the way it's developed isn't very believable. Especially when I compare it to my current favorite martial arts manga HSDK.

The manga seems to be more focused on it's characters, rather than martial arts, a fact that's almost emphasized by how backgrounds tend to disappear most of the time to shift the focus onto the characters. Martial arts come across as less the focus of the story, and more a vessel of self discovery for the main character. This is of course ruined by the fact that the main character is, as I've said, quite bland. Or maybe I'm just reading too much into this.

It's a shame, but I quite liked this manga when I started at the (former) halfway mark. But once I read over the whole thing I realized that there really wasn't much compelling me to read on.

But read on I did, mainly because I wanted to see the latter chapters in context so I could do this review. And I'll keep on reading, just because I'm expecting a relaxing, enjoyable read--flaws aside. I really don't expect too much conflict in this manga, which is quite clearly geared towards younger readers. But after putting up with all the false drama (according to me: mostly relationship drama that's there just for the sake of making the story more angsty/in place of actual drama. Doesn't help when it's compounding all the other drama), and excessive use of non-consensual intercourse for shock value. Heck there are so many "adult" series that use it to the point where I'm surprised there are any non-molested women in the darn world the creator made. Or when characters try to take it as serious as it is. Too many authors think that it makes their work edgier and more serious, but in all honesty just comes across as lazy. Not only that, but I really don't think it's a topic that anyone should be desensitized to. Unfortunately that's what happens when it gets abused in fiction like this.

For the record, I'm not using the word "r@pe" because I had similar trouble with a previous website where I got some really, really weird traffic. So in order to avoid that in this one, I'm not going to use that word, or anything similar to it.

Overall, I can't say I hate this manga, there are very few things that I really hate - though that list seems to be growing by the day. I have a few series I now refuse to read anymore, and will in fact chew your head off if you try to pass them, or their plot twists, off as good. One of them I actually stopped reading because of the previously mentioned reasons. In fact, it was that series that made me realize how annoyed I was getting by the "adult" genres.

Like I said, I don't hate this manga, but it's really nothing original, and not executed in the best fashion. However, it's pleasing to look at, and for all it's flaws it's an easy read that I can see myself at least enjoying, even if I can't recommend it for anyone looking for anything other than a light read.

And never forget: Even if you read manga online, always support the creators of your favorite manga by buying the official volumes once they become available in your region. Mr. Oda must be a very happy man, he already has so much of my money.

I wouldn't recommend this manga to anyone who is a passive manga fan, there are many more, better series for you to be spending your time on. But if you're a hardcore manga fan, I recommend this one to you if you've run out of longer series to invest yourself in and are looking for something lighter to read.

However, if you are a hard core fan, you might not enjoy this manga as much, seeing as overall its quality is sub-par at best.

In fact, perhaps I should recommend this one for passive manga fans. It's nothing special, but then again, you aren't as jaded, so perhaps you'll find this series more to your liking. Perhaps it could make a good introductory manga? Because frankly the first anime I really followed was Pokemon. And then it all went downhill from there...more on that later.

(Oddly enough, the first manga I really read consistently, from beginning to end, was Hellsing. Yes, that is something of a jump from my first anime).


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