Review by: Faith McAdams
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Author: Hiro Mashima
Genre: Graphic Novel
MSRP: $10.99 US
Rating: T (Ages 13+)
Release Date: Available Now
Everyone needs companions … or do they?
I have to admit that – as a hardcore gamer – the Monster Hunter games don’t pop into mind when I think of games that would make a great manga series. However, I do believe in the genius that is Hiro Mashima, the talented mangaka who gave us Rave Master and Fairy Tail. It is with his impressive track record that I checked out Volume 2 of Monster Hunter Orage and found myself having a blast without the use of a PlayStation 2 controller or my PSP.
You don’t have to be familiar with the world of the Monster Hunter games but if you are you will find that Mashima has infused his story with recognizable elements from the games. There are even a few visual cues from the Monster Hunter realm such as the crafted weapons and armor as well threat level for each monster. In this world, hunters take on contracts to hunt down the monsters that inhabit this world for money and the chance to score some parts to craft necessary equipment.
Monster Hunter Orage tells the story of three young hunters who have set out on an epic quest to hunt down the legendary Thunder Dragon known by all hunters as Myo Galuna. The group’s only male, Shiki Ryuho follows in his dead master’s footsteps as he travels with said master’s daughter, Ailee Jeskar. Along for the ride is a cute armorer named Sakya who becomes the third member of what is meant to be a four-member party.
Having traveled far together, we have learned very little about Shiki. All we really know is that he carries twin wind blades that a man who calls himself Shadow is looking to get his hands on them and Shiki is, well, he’s a peculiar guy. Think Fairy Tail’s Natsu or One Piece’s Monkey D. Luffy and you get the picture. We don’t even know much about Sakya but in Volume 2 we find out more about Ailee who does not want to recognize Shiki and Sakya as her “companions” (when “comrades” would have been a more fitting word) but we will get into that in a moment.
Their travels take them through a dense forest where they encounter a young man named Kirck running for his life with a massive beast they recognize as a Congalala. All three help the man from the stinky monster as they find out that Kirck is a traveling researcher collecting data on the wildlife especially monsters. His goal is to learn as much as he can about the various monsters so it would help future hunters that might encounter these beasts.
As a reward for helping the young man out, Kirck gives them a map that would better guide them to their destination. They also find out that they will have to cross the sea to their next destination so in the port town of Linka Rinka they find out that the only ship available can only cross if they complete a monster-hunting mission. The mission, they find out from a very peculiar man, requires them to hunt down a sea monster called a Plesioth and the requirement is that they wear tight-fitting armored bikinis. Another condition is that they share the mission with another hunter.
It is during this mission that we get a better understanding of why Ailee no longer wants to be a part of a monster hunting team. You see, long ago she was part of a small crew that she was so affectionately attached to during her early monster hunting days. Then, one of them mentioned that they could make even more money and acquire more parts if they sold their kill to a man known as Shadow. Ailee is opposed to the idea since poaching is an illegal activity and, in the end, winds up in front of a tribunal with the rest of her crew. The reason she is spared the ultimate sentence like her old comrades is the reason she find herself haunted by the thought of having companions.
However, seeing how hard her Shiki and Sakya risk their lives to save her while confronting the Plesioth; she comes to discover that having true comrades might actually be a good thing. There’s more revelations in this volume as we come to understand what Ailee’s father, Greylee Jeskar, means to Shiki and why the boy still has love for his now deceased master. When they meet the curious legendary armorer, Kibalion, we find out a big secret regarding Graylee as they others gather parts for a new kind of weapon that will be helpful in killing Myo Galuna.
A fun read that is not quite as fulfilling as Mashima‘s other two titles, Volume 2 of Monster Hunter Orage is still entertaining and even more so if you’re a fan of the Capcom games that inspired it. Much like Rave Master and Fairy Tail, there are some likeable characters that make the story work and this second volume fleshes key characters as they continue their journey. Give this one a chance if you like a manga series that isn’t afraid to show its readers a good time.
MANGA REVIEW BREAKDOWN
Continuing on their journey to find the Thunder Dragon known as Myo Galuna, the three young hunters end up saving a young researcher and then paying for their passage across sea by hunting a most dangerous aquatic monster. Meanwhile, we learn a secret about Shiki’s master as well as learn why Ailee is against having companions.
Hiro Mashima’s artwork continues to have that appealing style that comes close to Eiichiro Oda’s “One Piece” and that’s not such a bad thing at all considering how unique his characters and monsters look. The equipment and monsters do look true to the Monster Hunter games.
Much like the video game series it is based on, Volume 2 of Monster Hunter Orage is a good time but not deep enough to make compete with Mashima’s other titles. Still, the story is fun enough to keep you entertained and – since this is just the second volume – there’s a good chance this story could get a lot better. Consider this one worth a look.
Review copy provided by Kodansha Comics