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Friday, February 11, 2011

4Hero Manga by Mazjojo - A Re-review


Reviewed by: Peter Prabowo
Source: http://www.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=303279839962

Publisher: Koloni

Title: 4Hero

Author/Artist: Mazjojo

Summary:

Unlike his schoolmates, Juno didn't like to play "Hero Line", the most popular online game in the world today. This highschool student in Surabaya prefers to be strong in the real world rather than in the virtual one. A good friend "half-forced" him to get along with this "digital lifestyle", so eventually Juno tried his hand on "Hero Line".

Strange, when he put on the virtual visor, Juno arrived in a mysterious place and met the "princess" who begged him to save her! After that a collision occured between the Hero Line gaming world and the real world in Surabaya!

The fate of the city Surabaya and the Hero Line world was in Juno's hands now.

-------------------

So... a jock become a gamer and all hell break loose? Sounds about right

BIRTH BY SPOILER

Okay before we begin, let's get the dirt out first.

The author is a Kingdom Hearts fan. Everybody who watch his DA knows that. I guess my main disappointment is how even though this book is 3 years in development, and during those time many people has pointed out that Juno's costume design is too much like Sora, and even though he did make an alternate design, that he obviously capable of creating unique character design, as proven by his other characters (Mazo Xelyzbulc curse my spelling), the author still keep the design that's too similar to Sora.

Though I understand that this is more a homage to his favorite game than a rip off, because Nomura's costume for Sora is so iconic, it WILL devalue the character/costume design, and should not be done for any new comic artist trying to stand on his own.

Another example: I also don't care if Laba-Laba Merah has different characterization, it's still Spider-man costume homage/rip off. End of story.

Kingdom 4Hero

The cover and the first 10 pages are awesome. I have never seen better artwork and it's the best looking, detailed, and crisp Koloni artwork to date. The line art isn't too thick or thin, great page composition and detailed background, great use of tone.

Unfortunately it all gone after that. Don't get me wrong, the artwork is still awesome, still the best out of all Koloni, but the quality has lessened somewhat. Obviously this is the case of deadline, and the intro are created when the author have the most time. Anyway, as I say, it's not bad. Let's say that if the intro is museum worthy artwork, the next chapters are regular comic artwork.

It's worth saying that the worst Mazjojo can offer you is still better than most Koloni artist out there.

Also, what I like about this book is how the sound effect is in Indonesian but it shaped like katakana. Not sure if this is good for purist, since it's not very Indonesian, but for those who like artistic manga sound effect, this is very good.

Character of Memories

The characters in 4Hero are, for a lack of better work, stock characters. We got:

- The Shonen Hero: Loud proud honorable pervert Juno

- The Childhood Love Interest: Dita

- The Butch Girl: Miirina

- Princess in Distress: The naked princess

- Geeky Best Friend: Ian

- Expendable Classmates Prone for Possession: All of them, but particularly Jack

The side characters I found more interesting, such as the wild warrior with stock footage of frustration, Arpharov and his bossy uke Lura (I think I'll just call him Laura)

However Royal Priest Cattelya looks too much like Beyond The Beyond flower and Royal Thief Kuranza remind me of someone too.. I just don't remember

and Carbuncle is the lovechild of Mokona and Pikachu, not helped that all Carbuncle supposed to look like that.

To be honest except Juno, Ian, Cattelya, and Carbuncle, other characters are well design. Miirina, especially. It's just their role in the story that's too cliche.

See how one derirative character design can mar judgement on others?

180/2 Nights

The monsters design are good. At first I thought they're just Heartless, but each of them has unique and cool design, actually look dangerous, but unfortunately they all black and attack in packs under the also black night and sound effects, so you have to squint to see the details. Pity.. if only they're more colorful, it can be great.

Kingdom 4Hero 2

Story... story is pretty simple, basically if you read the summary you already know the story. Jock learn about Kingdom Hearts Online, all hell breaks loose, and he must fight to save the world. Again there is nothing really new or unique in the story... except the online part. Online games are very popular in Surabaya. I live there at Ragnarok Online's hype years so I can attest to that. If done right this can be an interesting story.

Unfortunately we only see the stock characters do stuff all stock characters do. There's a feeling of "been there... done that" when you read it. The only unique and interesting part is the climax, when one friend get possessed and Arpharov and Lura show up to stir things up even more, but before that, it's a rather standard shonen adventure. There's almost no surprise.

Fortunately, even though the story is filled with cliche, it is helped by gorgeous artwork, exciting fight scenes, great humor, and plenty of fanservice, so it is still a very enjoyable read.

and no, I don't think that tentacle fanservice is too much. I actually forget it exist.

Coded

If you want to be cruel, you can call 4Hero style without substance.

If you want to be nice you can say that this book is one big homage to all anime cliche in existence.

I'll say it's a combination of the two. It is both a homage, and a newbie storyteller mistake. There's too much homage in the book that it took over the storyline. It is this that make the book seems shallow.

But what the heck.. you don't watch Avatar for the story right?

Dream Drop Distance

4Hero has a lot to live up to. Mazjojo is a great and popular artist and people will expect much of him, but.. I know it's still to early to say, but I have a feeling that unless 4Hero 2 prove otherwise, he is best to stay as an artist and let other people write the story. Combine the epic art of Mazjojo with a great writer, and you'll get a collectible worthy comic book. But as of now, it's still pretty standard.

4Hero 3

An enjoyable, mindless adventure with artwork that's second to none, but maybe a liiiitle too much homage. Followers of Mazjojo jump right in. People who want to read a meaningful story, however, exit stage left, or wait in line for the next volume and hope for the best.

8 out of 10

Saved from 7 because the art is just that good.

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