Friday, August 24, 2012
"MxO" Manga Review
Every once in a while, works of art get released but are overlooked by other mainstream articles. MxO starts out great, keeps on rolling, then is a victim in a head on collision with Mahou Sensei Negima!. Thus enters MxO, a magic school manga that in my honest opinion could of been as good if not better than others in its genera.
It's plot is centered around the generic magic school setting; kids go to a magic school kept away from normal society. However, the twist is that the story develops into an original epic that has many memorable moments. It may seem boring from the first chapter but as you read on you notice how well the story develops due to the supporting cast and uniqueness it brings to the magic school genera. The story starts out with Taiga Kuzumi who thinks he is being interviewed to join a well known private high school. Things don't go very well and he somehow finds his way into a fight with teacher Kenjirou Hiiragi who has a strange card that can produce magic. He then realizes that the school might be different from ones he had attended in the past. From here he is admitted to the school and enjoys his life as he meets new friends and confronts antagonists. The problem I have with the school life/ magic school genera is at first I am overwhelmed with intrigue for the story and its characters, but I soon begin to loose interest as the arcs cycle threw. When reading Lucky Star I felt this way about 6 volumes through and found myself reading it in very short bursts. In MxO the author found a way to evenly balance out every arc so that when the interest starts to slither away, something happens that puts you back in the action. Another thing the story does well is the implementation of new characters sparingly. Having a lot of characters can either make or break a story. It works great in Mahou Sensei Negima!; not so great in Naruto. MxO by the end of the story does have a pretty hefty amount of characters but they are added in very small chunks. They are also not added unnecessarily as every time someone new comes along, they serve a purpose whether it being to start a conflict or save the day. I can say that every arc was very interesting except the unfortunately short last one which I will talk about at the end.
The art in MxO does have a style of its own...sometimes in a good way and other times in a detached manor. Facial expressions start out with over exaggerated features and overly proportioned drawings to help show you who is important and in situational moments where the momentum is being shifted. The artwork is clean in about 85% of the manga...it's just some stuff in the beginning and half way through the story it's seems to change, then revert back. In a way think of it like what is going on in Bleach. When it first started, Bleach's Ichigo had very definitive facial expressions but has the story progressed, all of the character models started to have the same look and even more the very recent chapters have a completely different art style. Some say having the artwork change with the story helps show progression, however it does not work for me here. The last volume however has some of the cleanest and well defined character models I have ever seen. Each character has a definitive look and body language.
Where the art somewhat lets down the overall manga, the characters somewhat make up some of the slack. Each character whether they were important or extraneous, had a very strong impact on my reading experience. Taiga unfortunately has that wimpy gene that a lot of male leads start out with but the surrounding casts help break him out of his shell. Aika Hiiragi, a girl Taiga has feelings for right at the start, can be overly emotional and a klutz, but her back and forth arguments that happen between herself, Taiga, and her father Kenjirou Hiiragi are hilarious as situational humor occurs all the time. She is also a strong female lead when the story needs her to be. Other characters such as Takahiko Daimon and Lucy completely make the story flow the way it needs to.
So what did MxO do correctly? A lot of things which include a very well done supporting cast, exciting and orginal story arcs that did not drag, and a good frame work for a sequel. Now I mentioned a sequel...this leads into one thing the story did horribly, horribly, wrong. If you go any blog relating to this manga you will most likely run into people talking about the ending. Remember how the story got into a wreck with other mainstream manga? Well unfortunately the manga was doing fairly poor in weekly popularity tests so fairly early in the final volume, there is a abrupt; more like a halt in the story. It is painfully obvious the ending was hashed together at the very last second while another arc was going on. The ending does however leave it wide open to be continued if that would ever happen. The story had the premise to be a 200+ chapter epic such as Bleach and Fairy Tail but was cut short. It is still worth a read as it is very original, full of epic moments, and a pretty well rounded cast.