Friday, September 17, 2010
Manga you should be reading: Ultimo
As many well know, I am a huge fan of Japanese manga and I enjoy discovering and reading new manga when I grow tiresome of the run of the mill popular titles that are so often promoted and discussed by the rabid internet crowd. Don't get me wrong though, I love Naruto and Bleach as much as everyone else who reads them weekly, but sometimes it's nice to stray from the mainstream and check out something that is starting from the ground up, sometimes I seek out such stories and other times they just kind of fall into my lap, this time it certainly fell into my lap. Well, earlier this year through the pages of Shonen Jump (USA) I discovered a new manga series called "Ultimo" and I was immediately attracted to it because of the name I saw attached to the title, the name was Stan Lee, the legendary creator of many of Marvel's biggest and most popular superheroes. I thought to myself, "Holy cow, Stan Lee is involving himself in manga now, this is interesting.....I think I'll give it a shot.", and so I did. Another aspect of the comic that also attracted me to it was the art and I felt it was better and more detailed than any other series in that month's Shonen Jump, the pencils were crisp and the characters had a really good look to them so I was excited to dive in and see what Ultimo was all about.
The story starts out in medieval times with a man named Dunstan (who looks a lot like Stan Lee) traveling along a lonely road with two boxes in tow both containing a pair of what originally looked to be dolls, but these were no ordinary dolls, they were mechanical boys who were created with the embodiment of good and evil stored inside of them. Dunstan is eventually hijacked by a rouge group of bandits who demand who know what is inside the two boxes he is carrying with him, Dunstan refuses to let them see what is inside of the crates but after much warning and pleading by the traveling man he finally agrees to open the boxes for the bandits, not too long after that Ultimo (good) and his brother Vice (evil) are awaken and then all hell breaks loose. Cut to present day Japan and the main bandit, Yamato, is actually nothing more than a normal run of the mill guy who has a life and personal problems of his own and has no idea that he exists in another timeline as a ring leader for a bunch of theives and bandits. One day while minding his own business Yamato was walking by an old antique shop and spots Ultimo in the window, when he notices the doll he begins to feel as if he has seen it before, this would be the lead in to Yamato finding out more and more about his alternate identity, it's also the beginning of the ultimate battle between what is right and what is wrong, the classic clash of good versus evil.
The story is written exceptionally well and the art is very smooth and attractive, and I enjoyed the first two volumes so much that it kind of bothers me that nobody is really discussing this manga and that there is not much of a buzz (if any at all) about Stan Lee entering into manga after creating such classic American comic book characters and helping to popularize comics as a world wide medium. If you enjoy Japanese manga or comic books in general than you should definitely give this title a shot, it takes the basic formula of good versus evil and it mixes it up into an enjoyable story that almost anyone can get into, both children and adults alike. I just want to be clear about something here, this article is not meant to be a review of the series or anything along those lines, I'm more or less trying to bring awareness to an amazing manga series that has yet to really get off the ground and since most of my internet friends and followers are "Otaku's" I figured that this would be the best possible way to get the word out that Ultimo is a fantastic series and should be given a try. The main selling point of this title would of course be the fact that Stan Lee is attached to it and that the interior art is breathtaking for a Japanese manga, but the true gem lies in the storytelling and the character of Yamato who has become somewhat of a sleeper favorite of mine, I for one plan on reading this series until it's end. The first two volumes are on store shelves right now and new chapters appear inside of Shonen Jump every month or two, so there is plenty of opportunity to check out this title and pass a judgement on it for yourself, I certainly hope that you do.
As always I want to thank those who took the time to read my blog, it's much appreciated and you can always check me out at www.twitter.com/manga4life as well as TZ and FUNI.