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New Viz Manga Impressions

Viz is offering up a boy and his dragon (not named Pete) as well as a good cop who’s a bad cop when pushed to extremes. Say hello to Ral Ω Grad and Switch.

Ral Ω Grad vol. 1 Impression
From artist of Death Note, Takeshi Obata with story by Tsune Takano Ral Grad is the story of a Dragon, a shadow dragon sealed away in a baby boy. During a great war shadow monsters began to appear, monsters that could live in a persons (or animals) shadow, share the host’s body, control the body or completely consume the host and use their shape for deception. These shadows are evil for the most part, with rare exceptions such as Ral and Grad. See Grad is a shadow dragon, a very powerful one who was sealed by a knight in the body of a baby, and the baby was sealed in a tomb with no light. Day after day the boy grew and was tutored by Mio, a young lady not too bad on the eyes. When shadows attack the kingdom has no choice but to enlist the help of the innocent Ral and his dragon Grad. They are released, save the day and Ral starts to learn about the finer things in life, mainly women. He loves him some ladies and will do anything to protect them, even setting out on a journey to vanquish the evil queen of the shadows, herself only concerned with being beautiful.

That is a quick, quick summary of Ral Grad, called Blue Dragon in Japan, not tied to the Microsoft video game here in the states. The art, coming from Obata is outstanding and the story crafted by Takano is both funny and violent with clashes of monsters and shadows that’s going to look great when it’s animated (it will be). As a character Grad is wise and guides the young Ral, who’s no pushover himself, even though he lets on that he is. As the story progresses new friends join the journey, enemies are revealed as are powers, pretty standard fare for an action anime. What sets Ral Grad apart is story, or I should say the potential in the story. The mix of unique characters and shadow powers has reliving my Blue Dragon days on the Xbox, but finally getting the mature adventure I wanted. Here’s to hoping this story really progresses, until then Ral Grad is a must buy for any fantasy, action manga fan.

Switch vol. 1 Impression
Story and art by Saki Otoh and Nakamura Tomomi. Switch is the story about Kai Eto, the latest cop to join the Greater Kanto Narcotics Control Division. Eto is teamed up with the doll Hal Kurabayashi. The Narcotics Division is investigating the latest drug to hit the streets, DS also known as Dragon Speed. DS is being run into the country by the Ryugen syndicate out of China. Competition for collars comes from the local Meguro Police department, but they don’t have all the freedom the Narcotics Division does, and the two just don’t seem to want to play nice. Eto is also very tentative for his work; afraid to take defense and fighting courses, but yet he unleashes an inner bad cop on one particular bad guy.

I’d love to get into more detail but to tell the truth I found Switch a little confusing. It really jumps around, hitting on two main cases, showing Eto’s dark side once and never really capturing the reader’s attention. The cliff hanger ending and bad cop Eto are the two story points that can really bring me back for more, but I feel that Switch does not know if it wants to be a mature Shojo book or hard core Shonen manga. Until Switch makes the choice I’m going to have to put this on the borrow list, as in get a friend to buy it and borrow it.

Check out the Viz website for more when they post these books, http://www.viz.com/.

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