Manga Reviews

Monday, February 20, 2006

Groove Adventure Rave

Groove Adventure Rave (aka Rave Master) by Hiro Mashima
Licensed by Tokyopop

Topic: Magical, Fighting

Haru Glory was living a peaceful life on Garage Island with his older sister Cattleya. Their mother had died and their father had left on some sort of epic quest 10 years ago. Their peaceful life was interrupted one day when Haru fishes up a "fish" that looks like the cross between a bug and a dog. On the same day, an old man named Shiba returns to the island after having been gone for 50 years. He's followed by member of a dark organization known as Demon Card. Haru protects Shiba and in return, Shiba reveals the state of the world outside the isolated Garage Island.

50 years ago, there was a demonic stone known as the Dark Bring which has the power to threaten all of mankind. To counter it, there's a sacred stone known as Rave which has the power of light. Shiba was the weilder of Rave 50 years ago along with Plue (the name of the bug/dog). Together they struck down the Dark Bring but he failed to finish the job. There was a massive explosion known as the Overdrive which destroyed over a tenth of the world, and the Dark Bring flew away. At the same time, the Rave shattered, sending portions of itself flying to the ends of the earth and Plue also vanished. Now 50 years later, Dark Bring has healed up from it's damage and reawakened, so Shiba's trying to find all the Rave pieces again. For this purpose he needs Plue, the only creature in the world that can sense Rave power.

Unfortunately, Shiba has grown too old and weak in the last 50 years, so Haru must take his place and venture out into the world to find Rave and destroy Dark Bring. To help him begin his quest, Shiba gives him one piece of Rave, a miniature sword that can be attached to a larger sword known as the "Ten Commandments" because it can take on 10 different forms, each which has it's own magical power. And so Haru, a boy from a reclusive island, sets off to save a much larger world. Along the way he meets many interesting characters. But will he be able to survive the rigors of being the "Rave Master"? And who are the Demon Card, that are so interested in destroying Rave? And most importantly, why did Haru's father leave 10 years ago?

The character art is incredibly varied and imaginative. The people look like people, although often deformed in some way. However it's the creatures of the world that really shine. For example, on Haru's house there's a large talking flower with arms, and Plue looks like a dog with a horn for a nose. This in part makes up for the absolute lack of character development that this series suffers from. Though the author tries to spin various tales about the characters' pasts, they all take the simple way out rather than more thoroughly exploring the characters and their motivations. The only interesting character is ELIE, a young woman who has no memory of the past and only bears a tattoo saying ELIE. She's being hunted by various people because there's a rumor that she might have the power to destroy the world. I hope her story plays out a bit more, rather than succumbing to a quick solution such as discovering it's all a misunderstanding.

The plot is extremely predictable. Haru and his friends go from place to place tracking down the remaining Raves and at each place they have to fight protectors who want the Rave pieces for their own reasons. Interspersed amongst these battles are other battles with various opponenets, ranging from air pirates to members of Demon Card. The one redeeming factor is that these battle all involve people with wildly varying abilities in incredibly diverse locations. Unfortunately, we can always predict the outcome with absolute certainty as this manga uses every popular cliche in the book.

The world this manga is set in is incredible diverse and magical. The abilities employed by various people, the people themselves, the animals, and the locations are all wonderfully imaginative. Unfortunately, this is tied together by a weak plot that seems more interested in giving the reader snapshots of the world than actually forwarding the storyline. In the end, it's a waste of a very well crafted land.

Rating: 4.0/10.0


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