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July 5, 2010

Bento Bako Weekly: Maoh: Juvenile Remix vols. 1&2

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: Maoh: Juvenile Remix
Author: Megumi Osuga (original novel by Kotaro Isaka)
Publisher: Viz Media (Shonen Sunday)
Volume: Volumes 1 and 2
Vintage: 2007 in Japan by Shogakukan; volume 1 in May 2010 by Viz, volume 2 is scheduled for August 10
Genre: Older teen, suspense, mystery, horror, action

Even though the second volume doesn’t hit the stores until August, I wanted to go ahead and talk about both volumes together, as far as the story’s themes go.  I’ll keep any spoilers regarding the plot in volume 2 to a bare minimum.

Maoh: Juvenile Remix is about a high school boy named Ando with a mysterious power.  Ando has the ability to project his thoughts through others, a talent he calls ventriloquism (which is also the best way to describe it).  For most of his life this has been a curse, something that happened accidentally when he was deep in thought.  It’s caused bullying in the past, so he does his best to keep it a secret at his high school.  Ando and his younger brother Junya live in Nekota, a town that has been rapidly expanded by urban development, which strangled the existing infrastructure of the town, causing an increase in poverty and crime.  To combat the corruption in Nekota, a vigilante group rose to power, led by a charismatic young man named Inukai.  The vigilante group, Grasshopper, works outside the law with brutal efficiency, destroying anyone who goes against them, and building their army with a flow of new converts.

Inukai has a vision for the city.  He wants the mayor to cease the corporate urban development, believing that building over the existing infrastructure of the town instead of stabilizing it will cause instability and eventually create a ghost town.  Inukai himself has a plan to rebuild the city, and plans to use Grasshopper to support his vision.  That’s all well and good, and even Ando is taken in by Inukai’s strong desire to change the world, but something sinister is lurking beneath the surface.  Inukai’s methods are mysterious and unsettling.  Former enemies join his cause, some followers exhibit zealous loyalty, people in his way mysteriously die.  Ando secretly witnesses an act of intense violence by Inukai and his Grasshoppers, and watches a classmate carry out cruel justice against school bullies.  Ando wants to discover the truth, but doesn’t want to get himself into trouble.

In volume two, trouble comes pounding on Ando’s door.  He’s decided to take action and begin investigating Inukai.  While testing out the distance and strength of his power at an amusement park, a strange voice issues a warning in his mind, just as a ride comes crashing down, destroying the seat Ando was almost sitting in.  As he tries to piece together why someone would be out to get him, Ando is attacked by a man claiming to be an assassin sent to kill him.  Luckily for Ando, the assassin is curious to know why some high school kid is his target, giving Ando time to react.  Ando must fight for his life while he desperately tries to figure out why someone would want him dead, and who that someone might be.  Meanwhile, Inukai goes overboard against a biker gang and is arrested by the police.  The police of Nekota are forced to see the extent of Inukai’s control over the city.

This title created a genuine feeling of suspense for me, which is rare.  I tagged this as horror, because I find it incredibly creepy and a little scary (Inukai’s eyes are chill inducing).  It’s got some really exciting elements to it, and the story is engaging, with some intriguing themes.  One of the main elements in the story is the driving force behind Inukai’s actions – urban development that fuels corporations while destroying the existing infrastructure and the heart of the city.  Inukai firmly believes that this development only benefits the businesses involved, while generating poverty and crime among the citizens, and driving them out of the city.  Not only does Inukai step in to deal with the crime problems, he promises to rebuild the dying city.  On the other hand, there’s Ando.  Ando starts off believing that there’s nothing he can do to change the world, being only a single person.  It’s not his business; he doesn’t need to cause trouble by standing up for others when things will just work out on their own.  The cops will stop the gangs, the teachers will stop the bullying, the girl being molested on the train will move to a new car on the next stop.  Why confront the problem and take needless risks?  But Inukai’s words start to ring in his mind – “As crazy as your ideas might be, as long as you believe in yourself and tackle the issue head-on…you can even change the world.”  Think about the problem, prepare, discover the truth, and confront the problem.  With his ventriloquism-like power, he can help others.  And in general, he believes in Inukai’s ideology…it’s the methods that are the problem.  The savior of the town might just be a devil in disguise.

It goes deeper.  Inukai’s main goal is to wake up the people, to get them thinking for themselves and take action.  To make people like Ando, who don’t argue, resist, or sacrifice anything, stop simply complaining unceasingly and move to take back their freedoms.  Ando is motivated by Inukai to do exactly that.  I’m quite excited to see where all this will lead to.  The idea that people are complacent having their freedoms stripped away, their lives stomped on, giving up on thinking for themselves and accepting their fate….  It’s intriguing, and I’d love to see the conclusion the author comes to in the end.

The books themselves are bound in great looking covers.  The art inside is solid, but a bit undefined.  You’ll notice what I mean on the cover for the first volume up there…Ando’s webbed fingers.  Occasionally the art looks a little off, like the details were rushed or unpolished.  It’s minor next to everything else that is well drawn.  The translation flows well, and there’s a character guide and story summary at the beginning of volume two.  You can preview Maoh: Juvenile Remix at ShonenSunday.com.

Kris
kristin@comicattack.net
@girlg33k_Kris

Review copies provided by Viz Media.

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6 Comments



  1. […] Bookshelf) Ed Sizemore on The Manga Biography of Kenji Miyazawa (Comics Worth Reading) Kristin on vols. 1 and 2 of Maoh: Juvenile Remix (Comic Attack) Todd Douglass on vol. 2 of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (Anime Maki) Michelle […]



  2. […] Bookshelf) Ed Sizemore on The Manga Biography of Kenji Miyazawa (Comics Worth Reading) Kristin on vols. 1 and 2 of Maoh: Juvenile Remix (Comic Attack) Todd Douglass on vol. 2 of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (Anime Maki) Michelle […]



  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Comic Attack, Kristin Bomba. Kristin Bomba said: Oh hey, it's Monday! It's time for a review. @Viz_Media's Maoh: Juvenile Remix vols 1-2 http://tinyurl.com/2b2k9np #manga […]



  4. […] Maoh: Juvenile Remix, vol. 4, by Megumi Osuga. From Amazon: “As Inukai reveals his dark ambitions for the city, Ando is more determined than ever to fight back in any way he can. But when he discovers that his power comes with a painful side effect, how will he respond?” February 2011, $9.99. […]



  5. […] See my review of volumes 1 and 2 here. […]



  6. […] 28. They also released the surprisingly excellent and suspenseful MAOH: Juvenile Remix (reviews here and here) this […]



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