Aimless Wanderings 33: Act cool, maybe no one noticed…
Oh yes, that was a very fine two week break since I was last here, writing Aimless Wanderings; I think I shall write my regularly scheduled column about anime and manga. Indeed.
Let’s start this off with a bang by talking about a new-ish manga that I came across while recording a commentary recently, Tsuyokute New Saga. The story throws you right into the thick of it right off the bat with the bombshell that humanity has been devastated by a sudden and unexpected invasion by the Demon Lord. What remains of the human military has pooled all their resources and launched a targeted attack on the Demon Lord’s stronghold, infiltrating the fortress in secret and fighting their way to the Demon Lord himself in his throne room. The hero, Kail, has fought his way through the guards and is the last of the suicide attack remaining, and he manages a mortal blow to the Demon Lord but not before becoming mortally wounded himself. His comrades all dead, and dying himself, Kail’s only solace is the fact that, strictly speaking, the mission was a success. He then spies the relic the Demon Lord seemed to be protecting, causing the distraction that allowed Kail to win. He reaches out to grasp whatever it is… and wakes up in his younger body, four years in the past, before the invasion but with all his knowledge of the future. Given a seeming second chance at the past, he hatches a plan to stop the invasion before it happens.
New Saga is a well done foray into a story based around time travel, if not exactly a unique one. With only 12 chapters that I’ve been able to find, it has had just enough room to get the ball rolling, but not quite enough to get into the real meat of the story. One of the points that they have seemed to focus on so far has been that while Kail has retained knowledge and the mental half of his martial skill from the future, he is now in the body of his 16 year old self, a far cry from the hero he would become over the next four years. Of course, his memory of historical events helps him achieve his goals, but the story is reaching a point where he has changed enough stuff so far that he’s beginning to run into the new history he’s beginning to write and may not necessarily be totally be prepared for it.
In the near future, new technological and genetic enhancements have given rise to superheroes: soldiers given powerful abilities by their governments in order to protect it’s citizens, be it at home or abroad. The global arms race begins anew, all nations vying to have the most/most powerful heroes at their command. Korea was no different, and they have enacted project Si Woo Swe in order to create a new generation of heroes to protect their country using the DNA of existing superheroes, at least that’s what they say. Enter Go Sung Tae, one of the subjects in the project, now a high school student, and being observed by various operatives in order to monitor when his powers will awaken. Sung Tae is bullied at school and the delinquents have brought him up to the roof under suspicion of telling a teacher that they were smoking. Unbeknownst to the agents watching him, Sung Tae’s powers have long since manifested themselves and he dispatches the bullies in short order and begins the process of altering their memories so no one will know about his powers… only to look up and find that Eun Ga Ram, the school’s idol, had seen the whole thing. And recorded it with her phone. Now he’s got no other choice than to do whatever she says or else she’ll reveal his powers to the world.
Hero Waltz is admittedly not breaking any new ground with its plot line, but after the first few chapters, it starts to go off in a direction that I’ve never really seen before. It’s an interesting, if short, take on the superhero genre and I found it to be an entertaining read that exposes a realistic though not often explored story of a character who wants nothing to do with what the plot is trying to drag him into because he knows precisely what will happen. Sung Tae also knows a lot more than he let’s on, and that’s always a fun trope to play with in a story.
Let’s Lagoon is probably my favourite on this list, but for reasons I can’t really go into here. The manga opens on Yamada, our intrepid protagonist by virtue of being the only character we even see for the first few pages, if nothing else. During these pages, we discover that he’s 4 days into his stay on a deserted island where he ended up after being tossed from the ferry his class was on when it ran aground on something. Luckily, when he woke up he found his gym bag with all the snacks he brought with him on the field trip and he figures he can ration it out for about a week. After a few days, and no signs of rescue, Yamada decides to start taking his escape into his own hands and begins to carve a tree to make a makeshift boat out of. It is then that he runs into Imaise Chika, a classmate who was also thrown from the ferry 4 days ago, eating his food and after calming himself down, they decide it’s best if they work together to get off this island.
Okay, I get it, there doesn’t seem to be much there to differentiate this from any other survival dramedy, but trust me there is. I think I’ve mentioned this series before, if you want to go digging through our archives, but the plot twist is so much better if you don’t see it coming (which you won’t). Just trust me; this is well worth your time, though the last chapter I’ve been able to find was published over a year ago so… try not to be too upset when you find out how it (currently) ends?
Quick writer’s note here: I realize that I’ve been away for a while (for good reasons, I promise), but I will certainly try to do these as regularly as I can now that I’m getting back into the swing of things. No guarantees, but I’m going to see if I can at least return to my original bi-weekly releases. Thanks for your patience and for coming back.