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First Date Review: Night Head Genesis V.1

Night Head Genesis: Volume 1-- not Del Rey's most impressive release.

 

Vital Statistics:

Title: Night Head Genesis
Story: George Iida
Script & Art: You Higuri
Original Publisher: Kodansha
Genre: Sci-Fi/Supernatural, Drama

Release Info:

Release Date: 11/24/09
US Publisher: Del Rey Manga
Translator: Alethea and Athena Nibley
Length: 208 pages
MSRP: $10.99
Rating: Older Teen (16+) 
 
Disclosure: This review is based on a review copy from the publisher.

The Story

 Night Head Genesis: The Anime
 Night Head Genesis: The Anime

 Night Head: the J-Drama
 Night Head: the J-Drama
Naoto and Naoya are brothers whose parents shipped them off to a research facility where they would be cared for until their adulthood. Naoya can see peoples' thoughts when he touches them, and Naoto has a bad habit of getting angry and causing things to smash, explode, or bleed. You can imagine why their folks kicked them out-- more destructive than a puppy!

After the death of "old man Misaki," whose spiritual powers kept the boys bound to the facility, the twosome head out into the real world, where they're quickly swept up into trying to save the world from a disaster predicted by a man who sees visions of the future.

Night Head Genesis is a manga based on an anime that was based on a live-action television drama called Night Head.

The Review

 Cantarella
 Cantarella
I love You Higuri's art. She's better known for her historical drama Cantarella (about the insidious Borgia clan) and her yaoi titles, such as Gorgeous Carat and Gakuen Heaven. I remember being surprised when she did character designs for Night Head Genesis, a seinen supernatural drama, when she's so much more well-known for shoujo and yaoi works.

But the art is beautiful and I can't fault it here. Higuri also has a good balance between detailed and less-detailed backgrounds, packing the panels with story and information without overloading them.

...Unfortunately, there's story to deal with. Bishounen fans will probably find something to like between Naoya's meek sweetness and Naoto's constant righteous anger, but I find them both rather whiny. The story's pacing is a little off: the boys are born, kicked out by their parents, kept at the facility, then grown and gone from it within the first chapter. They mysteriously have enough money for a nice apartment, clothes, food, and everything else that they need, as well as a woman on their heels who wants to kill them because she thinks they're the key to the world's destruction.

The story is so fast-paced I never felt like I was really grounded in the characters, their powers, or their world before we ran headlong into a world-saving plot, and by the end of the book I still can't tell you anything about either boy except that Naoya is a wuss and Naoto is protective and sometimes a jerk.

The story slammed into this book could easily have been drawn out to two or three volumes. If they wanted to move ahead into whatever comes next that quickly, I would rather they had referred back to this story as a flashback than actually cover it. And actually, I'm a lot more interested in their time at the facility than anything else that happened so far.

This is a Del Rey Manga release, so the translation is solid and flows well. There are translation notes, and a word from the original creator (George Iida) and the mangaka (You Higuri) at the beginning and end, respectively.

All in all, I'm not very impressed with NHG. But if you like your boys pretty and emo, and your stories simple and dramatic, you could probably kill a half-hour with this book...I just recommend borrowing it from a friend or the library. There are better ways to spend your cash. (Might I suggest a couple of other Del Rey supernatural dramas, like xxxHOLiC or Ghost Hunt?)
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