Manga Reviews

Monday, April 03, 2006

Beet the Vandel Buster

Beet the Vandel Buster
Licensed by Viz

Topic: Fighting, Shounen, Fantasy, Magical

Beet is a young boy living in a world that's fallen into "The Dark Age." At some point in time, evil creatures named Vandels appeared on Earth and destroyed its peace and order. Years have passed since then, and the humans have clustered together in sheltered towns. But there are a few who dare to venture out into the world and fight the Vandels, attempting to wrestle back control of Earth. These fighters are known as Vandel Busters.

Beet's goal is to become a Vandel Buster and put an end to the dark age. Despite his youth and inexperience, he's incredibly driven, even to the point where he risks his life against a Vandel that attacks his town. At that point in time, he's mortally wounded but to save his life, the 5 greatest Vandel Busters (known as the "Zenon Warriors") give their lives to save him. As a result, Beet has been infused with the special weapons that the five use (these weapons are known as Saiga and normally a high-level Vandel Buster is able to call out a single one, but Beet now has the ability to call out 5 different ones). But why did the Zenon Warriors sacrifice themselves for Beet? And can Beet rally together other Vandel Busters to fulfill his dream of ending The Dark Age?

I have never read a more RPGish manga in my life. After the Vandel Busters defeat their opponents, they go to a mystical old lady who can read their memories and brands them with a mark based on their "level". The manga literally has its characters "level-up." The characters are also paid based on how many opponents they've defeated, again a la RPG. That's not to say this is a bad thing or a good thing, it's merely a statement. People who enjoy reading RPG-type manga (for example the Fire Emblem Series) will probably enjoy Beet the Vandel Buster than people looking for other categories.

The character and weapon art for the series is excellent, with plenty of cool looking weapons and highly detailed clothing on the characters. The various Vandels all have very unique features and their lowly "soldiers" are pretty imaginative as well. The background art very sparse, often just a shaded or completely white background, which is an unfortunate contrast to the relatively high level of detail in the foreground.

I haven't read too far into the series but so far, the characters and plot are both stereotypical of an RPG. You've got the hero with a somewhat mysterious past going on an epic quest and along the way he picks up various allies each of whom teaches him something new about himself. If you're looking for plot-twists, try somewhere else. I sincerely doubt this series will throw any curve-balls at you. Still, its a rather fun (albeit low-brow) read.

Rating: 6.5/10.0


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