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November 8, 2010

Bento Bako Weekly: MAOH Juvenile Remix vol. 3

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Written by: Kristin
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Title: MAOH: Juvenile Remix
Author: Megumi Osuga, original story by Kotaro Isaka
Publisher: Viz Media (Shonen Sunday)
Volume: Volume 3 (ongoing), $9.99
Vintage: 2007 by Shogakukan in Japan, November 9, 2010 by Viz Media
Genre: Suspense thriller, drama, supernatural, mystery

See my review of volumes 1 and 2 here.

So far: High school student Ando has a mysterious power that allows him to force other people to say what he is thinking. He hides this ability so he can live a normal life. Nekota City is an economically unstable city with a high level of crime. The mayor is working on an urban city project with the Anderson Group, which will build many expensive, high class stores, restaurants, hotels, and other building and stores, which he hopes will bring money into the city. Opposing this movement is the young vigilante Inukai and his Grasshoppers. Feeling the project will destroy the city rather than revitalize it, Inukai has been working to turn the populace against it, and raising himself and his Grasshoppers in the eyes of the people by quelling the rising crime wave. Ando, feeling something is not quite right, decides to investigate. Unfortunately, he is almost killed twice, and he struggles with a desire to blend in with the crowd, while at the same time knowing he has the ability to make a difference. Eventually he finds himself present at a riot which has culminated in a show down at a local gas station, where Inukai has appeared to negotiate with the rioters.

Things are getting heated, quite literally, as one of the rioters is about to set fire to leaking gasoline. Ando, worried about the safety of Inukai and the watching civilians, tries to think of a way to help. He spots the bartender from Duce on the other side of the street, just as the police start trying to evacuate the onlookers for their safety. Ando, again, tries to mind his own business and refuse to get involved, expecting that someone else will take care of the problem. Except that one by one, the solutions fall apart, and only Ando is left to make a difference. Despite his reservations, he steps up to the plate and gives Inukai enough of a shock that the vigilante pays our young hero a surprise visit. Inukai reveals that the entire incident was of his own making, and that he and the bartender from Duce had things well in hand. The rioters were to be a sacrifice meant to build up Inukai’s reputation among the civilians. As Inukai makes clear his plans, Ando listens, horrified, as the true face of the city’s “hero” is revealed to him. Inukai, who has a strong belief in destiny and predetermined roles, believes that he was given power to make a difference in the world, which he plans to do in his own way. Of course, he also believes that Ando was given his power for a reason, and that perhaps Ando was put on Earth to stop him. In Inukai’s mind, this is a challenge between the destinies of two people, a test to see if he has read his role, as the one to change the world, correctly. It’s slightly good news for Ando, as it means Inukai will no longer directly attempt to remove him from the picture, but on the other hand, Ando is just another tool for Inukai to use. Things quickly turn into a living nightmare for Ando, as he and his classmate Machiko get entangled in a mass attack on the Grasshoppers, when a deadly female assassin is sent after Inukai.

The stuff of nightmares.

I’m rather surprised by how much I’m enjoying this title. Usually I wouldn’t give a book like this a second glance. But to my surprise (pleasantly), I find the story quite exciting. It’s not perfect, but the foundation is very interesting. The ideas about urban expansion, and how harmful it can be to the existing infrastructure, hit home with me. Inukai wants to change the world for the better, and he sees a real danger in the out of control expansion. He wants to protect the innocent civilians. But the cost of this is too high, and his methods are just as corrupt as those he is fighting against. The leader of the Anderson Group licks suckers all day, like a small child, and is only concerned with power and wealth. Inukai has a maturity (warped though it may be) far beyond his years, and treats the city leaders like children, though the swats to the wrist he delivers are deadly. He creates fake accidents to destroy the Anderson Group’s reputation, and stages fake suicides or untraceable murders of the group’s supporters. It’s a little reminiscent of Death Note, where a young man decides to purge the corrupt from the world through death, thinking he is building some sort of Utopia. In fact, I think MAOH would appeal to Death Note fans, so if you liked it, be sure to check this series out. It doesn’t measure up to the incredible suspense and tension Tsugumi Ohba created, the trademarks of Death Note, but it has its own charms. I’m not a huge fan of the art style, but there are some panels that send chills down my spine. Osuga captures intense and frightening moments with great skill. I almost feel like I’ll have nightmares. The word “maoh” means demon (or some variation of that), and Inukai certainly looks the part. He’s gathering his legions. The only question is, are these legions really blinded to the truth and devout followers, or are they simple groupies, whose attention changes with each new thing? Ando is the only one who knows the truth about Inukai, but he may be too afraid to do anything about it. Will he muscle up his courage when he realizes he may be the only one who can do anything? The next volume can’t come out soon enough. If you need more convincing, check out a preview of the series at Viz Media’s Shonen Sunday website.


Review copy provided by Viz Media.



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