Hetalia Axis Powers and Nabari no Ou reviews

Yesterday, I had a very productive manga reading experience and managed to read the first volumes of Hetalia Axis Powers and Nabari no Ou. I have to say that I highly enjoyed both and have every intention of collecting other volumes in both series.

 

Hetalia Axis Powers by Hidekaz Himaruya

Imagine a world in which the various states, nations, and empires are anthropomorphized into human avatars. What would Italy, Russia, Japan, America, and all the other nations be like as people? That is what Himaruya’s Hetalia Axis Powers explores with an almost psychotic humor.

Originally envisioned as a series of short web comics, Hetalia has, in recent years become an international phenomenon. I myself first discovered Hetalia through its too brief anime series. The tankobon volume (and the anime) are composed of numerous one page comic strips (or skits) with the largest being a few pages (several episodes). This helps to create a frenetic pace in reading (and makes this reader/ viewer at least wish it did not go by so quickly).

The strongest element of Hetalia is the satiric and humorous take on history that Himaruya has. Taking an example from one of my favorite strips (and wars): “Chaos at Daybreak” is about the War of the Austrian Succession. In the strip, Silesia is implied to be Austria’s genitals, which Prussia has captured. The strip ends with Hungary (one of the few female nation avatars, and the only one named in this volume) breaking into Prussia’s house and ordering him to give her back her “happy place.”

The weakest part of the volume is in the artwork itself. To me, the consistency of the art is a little concerning. Some strips are absolutely beautiful, but others come off as being extremely sketchy (literally). It is not a major non buying point, but it can be annoying at times.

The most annoying thing about the volume is Tokyopop’s production of the physical book itself. Occasionally, the text runs into the binding and I found it irritating having to bend the binding to read the notes to the strips.

That quibble aside, Hetalia is great and a must read, in my opinion.

 

Nabari no Ou by Yuhki Kamatani

I really can’t write a review that states “I love this book” one hundred times. But I do love this book.

Having recently come to its end in Japan (depending how Yen Press schedules its releases, there should be a few more years of new tankobon in the US), Nabari no Ou is a shonen ninja manga. Set in present day Japan, the manga follows Miharu as he unwillingly becomes the target of various shinobi factions who seek the “Shinra Banshou” which is located in Miharu’s body.

The interesting thing about Miharu is that he is indifferent about the whole thing. He really is uninterested and apathetic about the whole situation. At the same time, he is rather devilish in some of his actions (the comedic relief, which is hilarious at times). This indifference seems to recede a little at the end of the volume, but where things go from there, I haven’t read yet.

The artwork is excellent. There is a detail and lushness that is quite powerful. One of the better drawn mangas that I have read.

I can’t wait to collect the rest of the volumes in this series.

 

 

That is it for this double review. Expect an analysis of Trigun sometime this week. And after Guns, Germs, and Steel expect the second of my Bas-lag reading project to begin.

 

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Posted on January 2, 2011, in Manga and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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