Manga Reviews

Friday, March 17, 2006

Konjiki No Gash

Konjiki No Gash (Aka Zatch Bell)
Licensed by Viz

Topic: Fighting, Supernatural, Comedy

Warning: Mild Nudity

Takamine Kiyomaro is a brilliant middle school student, but because of his intelligence he's ostracized at school. As a result, he's turned the cold shoulder towards his classmates and has no friends, prefering solitude to being "friends with such low-level people." One day, as he's contemplating skipping school again, a naked child appears outside his window, wearing a giant yellowtail (a type of fish) strapped to his back, carrying a red book, and hanging from an eagle. This child's name is Gash Bell, and he was sent by Kiyomaro's father (a professor in England) to train Kiyomaro to no longer be a "sissy".

Of course Kiyomaro tries to throw Gash out, and when he fails he runs off to school taking Gash's book with him. Gash follows him there in an attempt to help Kiyomaro make some friends. Because of Gash's intervention, Kiyomaro ends up fighting the class bully. In the fight, Kiyomaro learns that Gash has the ability to shoot lightning from his mouth, assuming Kiyomaro says the magic word while holding the red book.

Apparently, Gash is a demon child. 100 demon children are sent to the world every 1000 years to do battle and the survivor becomes the next king of hell. Each of them has to find a book master - someone who can read their books and help them call forth their power. However, shortly after he entered this world, Gash was attacked and lost his memory. Now it's up to Gash and Kiyomaro to discover the truth about Gash, while fighting off other demons who've come to destroy both of them. Along the way they learn to trust eachother and work as a team to survive. They also encounter many other demons, and many types of book masters. Will Gash and Kiyomaro survive long enough to discover the truth? Or will they be struck down by the powerful demons which have been unleashed upon the world?

Konjiki No Gash has very pretty, although rare, background art. That is to say, when the background art is drawn (often in battle scenes) it's highly detailed. But often the author relies on almost white backgrounds and/or speed lines. The character art is consistent, although nothing really stands out about any of the characters. Their faces and clothing can be very detailed but much like the background art, it's often drawn in a simplistic manner.

The character development is very sappy, and follows all the stereotypes. The two have to fight someone hard, they start to lose, then they begin to realize some sort of greater connection and power up just in time to finish the fight. However, it is nice to see Kiyomaro use his intelligence in many of the battles rather than rely on the same "power-up" formula in each fight. I do have to admit that, despite the sappiness and predictability, the development is done very well. You can actually see the characters truly developing in every sense, which is fairly rare amongst manga.

The plot is where Konjiki No Gash really shines. The story had the potential to be predictable, but the various locales and the different opponents (all of who have drastically different powers) make it a constantly entertaining read. Furthermore, the author has thrown several twists and turns into the plot, hinting at certain events that occured 1000 years ago (during the previous battle). The evolution of the characters and the plot make for an entertaining and addictive storyline. I highly recommend you try out Konjiki No Gash.

Rating: 8.5/10.0


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