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First Date Review: Hero Tales

Hero Tales: it may be by Fullmetal Alchemist's Hiromu Arakawa, but don't get your hopes up on it being THAT good.



Vital Stats:

Title: Hero Tales
Format: Manga
Author/Artist: Hiromu Arakawa
Story: Huang Jin Zhou
Scenario: Ryou Yashiro
Art Configuration: Kusanagi

Release Info:

Release Date: 10/27/09
US Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Length: 176 pages
MSRP: $10.99
Special Features: 4 full-color pages, translation notes, author's omake 
 
 

The Story:

Taitou is a young man having trouble getting through his coming-of-age ceremony: he's supposed to lose to an older member of his village, but he refuses to, and no one local can cow him-- until the mysterious Ryuukou Muten arrives and kicks his ass. After the 'ceremony,' another weird guy attempts to cause problems for Laila, Taitou's adopted "sister," causing it to be revealed that Taitou is also Hagun, one of the two stars that remains in constant battle for control of the universe.

Long story short: Taitou is special, and he leaves his village on a journey, with Laila and Ryuukou as his travel companions. The trio start out having some wacky adventures and saving people, and are joined by an archer named Housei who falls in love with Laila at first sight towards the end of the volume.

The Review:

FMA manga Vol 1
FMA manga Vol 1
This is a manga that will suffer greatly from Arakawa's past success with Fullmetal Alchemist, because at lest as of the first volume, it is simply "good." It has no hook that causes constant dramatic tension, leaving the humorous bits rather fun but decidedly less "relief"-like than what's in FMA, where the story is dark enough to really need that humor. If anyone else had drawn this manga, however, it'd still be a decent read, although I don't know if the setup here has enough depths to plumb for me to be really gung-ho about reading the second volume.

It is worth noting that  this is not just an Arakawa work. The story is by "Huang Jin Zhou," which mobuta's Arakawa fansite says is the name of the collective circle with which Arakawa has done doujinshi in the past-- I assume that Ryou Yashiro, credited with "scenario," and Kusanagi, of "art configuration," are the other members. (On the other hand, Wikipedia says, sourcelessly, that Huang Jin Zhou is Arakawa, Genco, and Studio Flag.)

 Arakawa's omake stand-in
 Arakawa's omake stand-in
All in all, based on volume one, it's not a BAD manga, and you could easily find the lively characters enjoyable enough to want to know what will happen to them. If you like fantasy with an eastern touch (the world here is inspired by China). But if you're expecting another FMA, you'll be disappointed.

As for me: while I found the manga to be okay, the omake where Arakawa talks about going to China to get reference photos and whatnot actually amused me a lot more. I'd say this is a "read the second volume if someone loans it to me and I find time" sort of series, rather than an "I must have the second volume as soon as it comes out!" series for me.
GodLen staff on Nov. 27, 2009 at 6:30 p.m.
Interesting... is the main character short too?
Suigetsuon Nov. 27, 2009 at 7:07 p.m.
this was before FMA, cut her some slack.
She is an amaizing writter and by far my favorite one.
theswedishphishon Nov. 28, 2009 at 10:47 a.m.
@Suigetsu: Actually Hero Tales was made in 2006, while FMA started in 2001.
 
Besides that though, like the review said, Hero Tales was not bad, but compared to the phenomenon that was FMA, I personally would have expected something a little more divine.
giaon Nov. 30, 2009 at 6:40 a.m.
@GodLen: No.
 
@Suigetsu: She's good, to be sure, and let me stress again that this manga isn't BAD. But I'd be a liar if I said readers expecting something FMA caliber will probably walk away disappointed. 
 
@theswedishphish: I believe she and the others actually worked on this story prior to FMA, but this edition is certainly post-FMA.

Dig Deeper into Hiromu Arakawa

Hiromu Arakawa is the famed mangaka of Fullmetal Alchemist.

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