Review by: Sophie Stevens
Publisher: VIZ Media
Author: Megumi Osuga
Original Story: Kotaro Isaka
Genre: Graphic Novel (Shonen Sunday)
MSRP: $9.99 US
Rating: T+ (Older Teen)
Release Date: Available Now
If you had the power to change the world, would you do it?
Ben Parker’s words that have so haunted the young man who would become Spider-Man are true … with great power comes great responsibility. Ando, a young High school student and the protagonist of Volume 1 of Maoh: Juvenile Remix, has a power that could be used for good in a city where the savior might actually have an evil agenda. It’s time to step up to do something and Ando might very well be that man in a story that is actually quite engaging.
Maoh takes place in Nekota City, a place that had once been a charming little burg in Japan that slowly began to see giant corporations destroy the city’s small business and turn its back on the people as crime increases. Among the city’s many citizens is Ando who lives with his brother after their parents died in a horrible accident. He’s a somewhat quiet young man with a few friends and a secret he wants to share with his friend but doesn’t due to the fact that the last group of friends he shared said secret with ended up believing Ando was some kind of lunatic.
You see, Ando believes that he can make anyone say out loud what he is thinking … kind of like a type of mind-control ventriloquism. So you can see Ando’s reluctance in telling people about this gift that he believes he has but hasn’t really confirmed. It isn’t until one day, catching a train with his brother, Junya, they catch a glimpse of a cute girl getting groped by an older man. The timid girl isn’t able to defend herself against the older man who practically dares her to say anything. When Junya and Ando try to stick up for her the man slaps Ando and accuses them all of attempting to get money out of him. Suddenly, the power locked within Ando awakens and he makes the girl stand up for herself.
As Ando is trying to understand his power as well as try to accept that he does have a gift, he and his brother witness a strangely handsome young man confront a group of street thugs who are bullying people around them. This young man is Inukai, the leader of a group of vigilantes called Grasshopper sworn to protect the city from those who mean to ruin it. Seen as a savior and saint, Inukai doesn’t even resort to violence to stop the leader of the street thugs even when the leader smacks him over the head with his baseball bat.
One day, Ando sees the same gang leader and his group of thugs looking to put the hurt on Inukai only to find the young man with his Grasshopper followers who now wear masks. Too Ando’s complete horror, the gang and their leader is beaten to a pulp. How can a man that preaches peace in the neighborhood be capable of such great violence? Is he really the saint the people make him out to be or is he something else altogether?
These are questions that Ando asks himself but with so many people supporting Inukai and the Grasshoppers it might be just in his mind. Then, a classmate invites him to a symposium where Inukai is an invited guest who confronts a councilman who he accuses to be on the side of big business rather than the city. Within mere minutes, Inukai has the audience on his side as they all begin glaring at the councilman. Ando discovers the gang leader that Inukai had beaten wearing a Grasshopper uniform. On top of that, tragedy befalls the councilman. Something is clearly wrong.
The next day, Ando’s otaku classmate, who is always being picked on by the school’s bullies, asks Ando to come to the science room where the boy unleashes his revenge on the bullies in an elaborate and deadly manner. It becomes clear to Ando that Inukai’s influence might have played a role in his classmate’s dangerous choice of getting back at his tormentors.
The series does have a wonderfully dark and creepy side as the story is just beginning to warm up but it also has a delightfully comical side as well. The comedy in the series comes in the form of Ando’s friends and his brother – who dates a girl who often wears mismatched socks or forgets to button up. He also has an attractive and bosomy upperclassman named Machiko who greets him by shoving her, um, assets in his face.
Volume 1 of Maoh: Juvenile Remix is just getting started but it already has our interest thanks to the story and the somewhat disturbing tone. We’ve seen manga about characters with powers but Maoh is going in a good direction that – we hope – will just keep getting better with each volume. This is certainly a shonen manga worth a good look.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Ando has always thought he had a special ability and when he decides to stand up for a girl in the subway he displays the power hidden within him that makes others say out loud what he is thinking. While he tries to make heads or tails of this power, Ando wonders if the vigilante group called Grasshopper and its leader really have the city’s best interest in mind.
While the art isn’t too original it does the job nicely for this series and the character design gives each character its own personality that shines through well enough.
Actually quite engrossing to the point that you will be pleased by its story, Volume 1 of Maoh: Juvenile Remix is an appropriately creepy and a good read from start to finish. While the characters have yet to show their true colors, the story has great potential to become that new shonen favorite worthy of buying. Consider us hooked on this one.
Review copy provided by VIZ Media