I’ve been pretty hit-or-miss when it comes to releases from CMX Manga. In general, I’ve found their shojo releases to be very enjoyable and quite entertaining. Their Densha Otoko release was the best manga adaptation I read of that series, and their Emma series is one of the best manga releases out in the US, period. But shonen action series – the bread and butter of the American manga market – is obviously not CMX’s forte, and Shoko Fukaki’s The Battle of Genryu: Origin is one such shonen series.
Jun is a goofy young martial arts fighter who gains superhuman fighting ability once every month. At school, he practices with the help of his sparring partner, the hot Fusano. But there’s trouble one day when a group of thugs gang up on Jun, and he just barely survives the attack. The thugs were hired by Jun’s older brother, who (for reasons unknown to the reader) appears to be starting a war with his younger brother and their sister.
The cover art, lore, and overall attitude of this comic reminded me a lot of Ikki Tousen – just without any fan service.
And what’s Ikki Tousen without the fan service?
Not very much of anything. (-_-)
Right away, the narrative of this story jumps all over the place as it very quickly tries to establish the characters and their unnatural fighting ability. A foreshadowing scene of Jun getting beaten up. Bang! It’s breakfast in the home and his sister is worried about something. Bang! Jun is at school, and eating some food he stole from one of his friends. Bang! Said friend chases after Jun, but the protagonist uses his supernatural ability to evade him. Bang! He knocks into Fusano, who quickly flips the boy over to prove that she’s a better fighter. And so on the story continues with the fast-paced hijinks.
This setup is very sloppy, but once all the introductions are out of the way, the story does slow down and become significantly more enjoyable. The reader gets thrown into a twisted and dark back story about mythical powers, underground fighting tournaments, and betrayal of the older brother to his siblings. All this with some pretty nice and violent fighting mixed in. Again, very similar to what you’d find in Ikki Tousen or other martial arts stories, almost following the formula down perfectly.
Though the one thing that Genryu is significantly missing from this set formula is the fan service. When you have such a testosterone-filled story of ego, blood, and simply kicking ass, it’s only appropriate that you have the buxom babes thrown in there. And while there are female characters in the story that would fit the bill, there’s only three or four panels in this entire volume that contain something remotely sexy about them.
Not that you’d particularly find the fan service all that attractive, as the character designs and art in this comic look like a third-rate OEL series. The facial proportions are all screwed up with very squinty eyes and little consistency from panel-to-panel. It looks more like somebody’s rough sketches for a manga series then the final product itself.
This is the second disappointment I’ve seen come out of the CMX / Flex co-branded shonen series. DC Comic has an investment and exclusive partnership with Flex Comic in Japan, so these series must have come a cheep bargain for an American release. But that’s exactly what you’re getting with Genryu – a cheap, sub-par release that’s ultimately not worth reading among all the other series already out there in the US manga market.
* * *
The Good: Story and action sequences picks up significantly in the latter chapters of this volume.
The Bad: Ugly character designs, little fan service, sloppy setup, and overall story contrived and unoriginal.
Final Verdict: The Battle of Genryu is the same martial arts action comic you’ve seen many times before and offers nothing new to this cliched genre. Skip it.