Manga Reviews

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Flame of Recca

Flame of Recca
Licensed by Viz
33 Volumes (Complete in Japan)

Topic: Fighting, Supernatural, Superhuman

Hanabishi Recca is a young man who's fascinated with ninjas, and desperate to be one himself. The only problem is he was born a few hundred years too late, and lives in modern day Japan. Nevertheless, he keeps stealing fireworks from his father (who makes them for a living), and uses them as his "ninja-tools" to fight other people. One day he meets and saves a young girl named Sakoshita Yanagi. For some reason that he cannot explain, he feels a deeper connection to her and decides that it's his duty to protect her no matter what happens.

To repay him for helping her, Yanagi shows him her special power, the ability to heal wounds. In return, Recca also shows off his secret ability, the ability to make flames appear from his body. Ever since he was born he's had this power although he has no idea how or why he can do it. Unfortunately for Recca, who's perfectly willing to live a peaceful life serving his new "master," other people seem to be aware of Yanagi's powers as well. One man in particular, Kouran Mori, is obsessed with her powers, believing them to be the key to immortality. As a result, he sends his adopted son Kurei to kidnap Yanagi, forcing Recca and his friends to spring into action.

As they battle their way through the different opponents on their way to Kurei, and eventually Kouran Mori, they each obtain various "madogu." These are powerful items that allow the users to incredible feats, such as turning the user's body into iron for short periods of time. Recca himself learns that he's the descendant of a ninja clan which was supposedly completely wiped out 400 years ago. Not only that but there may be other survivors in the world too.

This is a manga drawn by Nobuyuki Anzai who later went on to write and drawn Märchen Awakens Romance. As a result, the character designs are incredibly similar, not only in terms of art but also attitude, weapons, and abilities etc. Much like many other fighting manga, this falls into the pithole of repetitiveness. Over the first few volumes Recca defeats various people who eventually become his allies in their battle against Kurei and Mori. Then they have to go into out of the way places to do battle with powerful (but not TOO powerful) opponents who leave behind valuably "madogu." As with most fighting, tournament-esque mangas, they grow stronger during each battle, just enough so that they can defeat their opponents at the last minute.

Normally, I'm not too concerned with stereotypes, but this series embodies every stereotype and ability from the entire genre without really introducing anything new. Not even the plot twists are anything special, given that they're either hinted at heavily or they're done so poorly it looks like it was added at the last moment. The plot is incredibly linear and predictable throughout the 33 volumes.

The characters aren't anything special either. Outside of Yanagi, the protagonists all seem completely mindless, all going forward in their battles without ever questioning their surrounding, opponents, or even themselves. Almost no one ever asks "why?" which gives rise to emotionless puppets as characters.

The one redeeming factor is the art, which although unusual is pretty. This being Nobuyuki Anzai's first long manga (his first manga being Rocket Princess), the art style gradually changes through the series. The battle scenes are well done with nice looking powerups and ability effects. The backgrounds are also very nice in the later volumes, where we begin to get more and more 2-page panning views of the battlegrounds. If you're looking for a mindless, action manga Flame of Recca is a decent choice. If you're looking for something with a deeper plot or more character development look elsewhere, you'll be sorely disappointed.

Rating: 4.5/10.0


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