The world is in mortal peril. Sir Noi Crezant, the Lizard Knight, has been sent to gain the aid of the great warrior Amamiya Yuuhi in hopes of finding the Princess Samidare and protecting the planet from the incredible "Biscuit Hammer" poised to crack the Earth in two. Unfortunately Yuuhi wants no part of it, and the Princess doesn't prove to be the shining "hero of justice" role model that Noi had hoped for.
Hoshi no Samidare was published in English as Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer by Seven Seas Entertainment in 2-in-1 omnibuses from November 4, 2014 to November 24, 2015; and in Brazilian Portuguese as Lúcifer e o Martelo by JBC from January 2014 to May 2014.
What makes a good story? For many people the answer to that question is very simple - enjoyment. For some though, enjoyment is only part of the equation. Originality, innovation, technique, development and visualisation are all integral aspects of the storyteller's art, and even though there are tales that utilise themes, plots and settings that are already prominent in manga and anime (school based romantic comedies for example), the application of these techniques can turn something mundane into something very, very different.
Wakusei no Samidare (or, The Lucifer and The Biscuit Hammer - although a more literal translation of 惑星のさみだれ might be Planet Samidare or Samidare's World), is a strange and slightly demented tale by Mizukami Satoshi that follows the lives of thirteen disparate people who have been brought together to protect the world from the mage Animus and his dreaded Biscuit Hammer. Amongst them are Amamiya Yuuhi, an antisocial college student who wakes up one morning to find a talking lizard in his room, and Samidare Asahina, the "princess" and leader of the Twelve Animal Knights who is the living embodiment of the power that opposes Animus.
There's just one problem though. Unbeknownst to the most of the Animal Knights Asahina wants to destroy the world herself, which is the only reason she fights against Animus, and to make matters worse, Yuuhi secretly agrees to help her.
One of the main problems that some people may have with Wakusei no Samidare (I refuse to call it Hoshi no Samidare), is that the story can, at times, be a little on the convoluted side. In addition to this, there are occasions where the author seems to have a little trouble getting to the point and at times the manga seems to simply ramble on for a few pages. However, those who are willing to overlook these relatively minor gripes will find a rather strange and interesting tale that plays on several well known themes.
The plot is broadly centred around the stereotypical "sentai" format (think Power Rangers et al), with several key differences, the main one being a sense of maturity as the manga moves away from what one would expect as the story develops.There is also a lot of subtext added that is often missing from other sentai tales that may not be readily apparent at first. One example of this is Asahina's use of the name "Lucifer", which signifies her deception of not only the other 11 knights but Animus as well. The irony is that this nomenclature is also applicable to the story itself as while it may look like a "normal" sentai tale and feature the stereotypical princess and knight pairing, it's actually something a little deeper (more on this in a bit).
Wakusei no Samidare is an unusual looking story as Mizukami Satoshi has opted for a look that doesn't really fit with today's manga offerings, and unfortunately this is the main reason why people may not read this series. The characters, for example, may look like individuals, but they all follow the same core design principles and because of this the series is rife with strange body positions and evil grins. That said, the simplistic approach to character design works surprisingly well throughout the series, and makes for some interesting situations and set pieces.
Mizukami has also rendered the backgrounds and settings in a manner that is reflective of the mentality of the series, with much of the scenery following the same simple method as the character design. Surprisingly, this approach actually enhances the characters in a way that, again, may not seem obvious at first, and because of this many scenes have more impact on the reader than one might expect.
My gripes with the artwork though, were the minor ecchi moments as they seemed totally unnecessary, but thankfully those occasions were few and far between.
Now any story that features a host of characters will undoubtedly face some issues when it comes to development, and while Wakusei no Samidare does encounter some of those problems, the majority of gripes one might have are nothing more than nit picking. That's not to say the characters develop in the standard manner though, as Mizukami has clearly tried to be innovative in his approach where they are concerned.
Many readers consider Yuuhi and Asahina to be the two main characters of the story, however this manga is written in a manner that brings not only each of the knights and Asahina herself to the fore, but also focuses on Animus and the "opposing power". There is a fair amount of time spent on Yuuhi as he is the only knight who knows of Asahina's plans, but it quickly becomes clear that he is not the only important character.
One aspect of the writing that I loved was that the other characters are equally as important as the two leads within the bounds of the tale. What do I mean by that? Well, there are several figures who aren't key to the main story but have a lasting impact on the characters and their development. In addition to this the series isn't afraid to leave the main characters out of the picture completely, and there are whole chapters that don't feature one or both of the leads.
Wakusei no Samidare is a very odd manga that features odd characters and situations and wraps them up in what appear to be stereotypes, and I loved every page of it. That's not to say it's perfect, as although I wasn't really bothered by the look of the story, it's understandable how people would be turned off by it.
One thing that does bear mentioning though, is that this tale isn't exactly what it appears to be on the surface. Yes, there are elements from a number of other manga used throughout, but one of the things that the reader needs to understand about Wakusei no Samidare is the importance of the relationship between Yuuhi and Asahina, as it's not as straight forward as it first appears. At first glance it's a typical princess and knight format, and that perception is reinforced by the usage of those titles. In actuality though, the relationship between the two is that of the sorceress and the knight, which is a very different concept, and one that harks back to older folklore and legends from around the world.
This relationship is only one of the less obvious aspects to the story, and while readers may not appreciate the difference at first, it is relevant as it allows for a very different approach to developing the plot, as well as a different understanding of events by the reader. One of the nice touches was that Mizukami made the effort to camouflage these aspects rather than hitting the reader over the head with them.
It's just a shame that so many people judge a manga by how it looks.
At first glance The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer may not look like anything special, however looks can be very deceiving. It very quickly blossoms into one of the most engaging, funny, and at some times tragic stories that I've ever had the pleasure of reading.
The story may not be anything particularly original, but it easily makes up for its lack of originality with numerous twists and quirks that make for an enjoyable read that never fails to surprise, right up until the last chapter. Little things, such as the Princess' motivations for wanting to save the world, or unexpected character designs keep it interesting. One of the things I appreciated most about the story was its uniformity. There were no noticeable plot holes or contradictions that most manga are filled with. Most mangaka seem to make things up as they go along, which leads to inconsistencies in the story. It was clearly planned out, at least loosely, from beginning to end.
The humor is an integral part of the manga. The author makes use of an extremely dry sense of humor, that I'd expect from something out of Britain, not Japan. The thing is though, it works. I honestly laughed out loud a number of times, which is rare for me. It constantly pokes fun at typical shounen cliches, such as characters naming their techniques.
The characters are particularly interesting. The author makes very little use of character archetypes such as tsunderes, which have become increasingly common. Nearly every character is unique and given the attention they deserve. They're all given a proper back story, and each has very different reasons for why they fight. I also can't say enough about the growth that Yuuhi exhibits throughout the story. It was fascinating to watch him grow, and not just in the traditional sense. He gets physically stronger, yes, but he also matures tremendously throughout the story, all in an extremely natural way.
The art, while nothing impressive, is still quite good for the most part. The characters are all instantly recognizable. The fights are easy to follow. The author also makes extensive use of capes for dramatic effect. If something epic is happening, it's almost always accompanied by a cape or something similar blowing in the wind. I consider it to be the authors trademark, as it's present in all of his works that I've read.
This is one of my personal favorite manga, and I haven't talked to anyone who hasn't liked it. If you're still skeptical though, take five or ten minutes and read the first couple of chapters. I guarantee you'll be hooked.read more
As a forewarning, this is my second review and consequently I’d like to try something a little experimental, so this review is going to be very Trope Heavy. For those of you who don’t know what that means: pull up a tab and go to TvTropes.org, then, when you emerge some hours later blinking into the sunlight, head on back over [and congrats on breaking free of your Small Secluded World].
Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer [also referred to as Hoshi/Wakusei no Samidare] is basically what would happen if you took What the Hell, Hero? and made an entire story around it. Hoshi no Samidare initially presents itself as an action/adventure-romance-comedy [or is it a comically action packed romance?] that, quite fittingly, grows into a Coming of Age Story [see what I did there?], with clever Genre-Savvy humor and noteworthy character development all throughout. The manga begins with Amamiya Yuuhi, introverted misanthrope and bespectacled college student, who wakes up to find a lizard in his bed, which he throws outside and promptly goes back to sleep, The End.
Alright I’m just foolin’: This lizard, a certain Noi Crezant, informs him that it is The End of the World As We Know It and asks for his cooperation as one of the 12 “Beast Knights” in protecting The Princess and defeating The Mage, the latter of whom plans on destroying the Earth with his gargantuan Biscuit Hammer, which is Invisible to Normals [Note: the Biscuit hammer isn't actually made of baked flour, but it IS named after a song by The Pillows].
Much to Noi’s surprise, Amamiya doesn’t exactly Jump at the Call, as not only does he want no part in the war; he seems to be completely apathetic to the whole ordeal. That is, until he is attacked by one of the mage’s Pet Monstrosities and subsequently saved by the princess, who turns out to be his neighbor, Asahina Samidare. Sami, being the resident Hero Antagonist, and Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds, wastes no time in recruiting Amamiya to her cause; her ambition of course being to save the Earth from the proximate danger of the Biscuit Hammer…
…so that she can destroy it herself. She confidently proclaims to Yuuhi and Noi, wearing awe and horror stricken faces respectively, that if the Earth is going to meet its end then it’s going to be her Fists of Mass Destruction that do the job [well, that, or the fearsome power of moe]. Amamiya, having always wanted to Put Them All Out of My Misery , or perhaps inspired by the inherent determination of her words, vows to be her “demon knight,” and so begins their battle to defeat the Mage Animus and his increasingly powerful golems; all while hiding their secret agenda from the other Beast Knights.
On the outset, Hoshi no Samidare is a comedic adventure story about a 3-way battle [with the main duo being the secret third party] to either save or destroy the world, but soon it becomes quite apparent that there is, in fact, a fair amount of depth to be found as well. While I couldn't find an exceptional amount of thematic relevance within the story, the relatively simple themes that it does touch on; such as the significance of family and friends [and conversely, the dangers of isolating yourself from them], the value of unity when faced with an overwhelming and enigmatic foe, and even [though briefly] what it means to be human, are only made that much more impactful by their relative scarcity. Not to mention that, despite there being a fair amount of loss, the plot never really descends into the morbid or depressing, as the action [and hardship] is interspersed with a fair amount of levity. Hoshi no Samidare’s story treads a fine line between tragedy and humor, poor handling of which can result in Mood Whiplash, but thankfully the comedy is implemented in such a way that it never seems out of place, instead facilitating character development and serving to lighten up an otherwise somber atmosphere. This and the relatively smooth pacing provide the framing for an adventure chocked full of Plot Twists, Crowning Moments of Awesome, Tear-Jerker moments, Villain Protagonists, Panty Shots [subverted, it’s only used as a joke in the beginning], and everything else that makes for an engaging, well-written story.
Art: Normally I care very little about the art in manga, but in this particular instance I have to point out that the Biscuit Hammer in and of itself is cleverly used in a variety of ways to symbolically illustrate emotional tension, with the manga often panning to it looming ominously in the sky, poised to destroy Earth, during times of emotional turmoil or desperation. It’s also used as a visual aid to hammer in [:D] the ever-present direness of their situation, even during times of relative calm. If there is one thing that I could complain about, it’s that tears are drawn somewhat oddly, flowing down the characters faces in cartoonish rivulets. This wouldn't be much of a problem, but there’s a pretty hefty amount of [justified] crying during certain parts of the story, and it somewhat ruins my immersion when the characters look like they just finished being water-boarded. Aside from that, the art is alright and the paneling paneling is excellent; they both serve their respective purposes.
Characters: While Sami and Yuuhi’s subversion of your typical “knight and princess” cliché alone is well worth the read, I found myself quite enamored with Yuuhi’s depth of character in particular. Yuuhi is an astoundingly likable character and, despite his initial villainistic leanings, is surprisingly relatable as well. In a fine example of Becoming the Mask, he begins as an Anti-Villain who feigns being one of The Good Guys in order to fool the other Beast Knights [and regards the imminent destruction of Earth with little more than passing disinterest] but, through his interactions with the rest of the cast, he gradually grows into his role as [one of] The Hero(s).
Likewise, Yuuhi’s journey from asocial Stepford Smiler to someone with a genuine appreciation for his life and that of those around him is conveyed in a compelling and realistic way, and I never once found any of his interactions to be implausible or contrived; though, to be fair, his back story with his grandfather was...odd. That of course isn't to say that everyone else in the story falls by the wayside; in fact, the other knights’ back stories [barring the detective, I found his to be comparatively mediocre] were interesting as well and, remarkably, all receive some manner of character development or another. The sheer variety of novel interactions in this story ensure that character progression never stagnates and, between the most Gar characters being an overweight man and a twin-tailed middle school girl, you can guarantee that the writer doesn't follow typical conventions, instead opting to create a distinguished group of refreshingly unconventional “heroes.” By the time I had finished reading Lucifer and The Biscuit Hammer, I was rather fond of the cast [including the mage Animus, who is pretty Affably Evil]; their individual growth, which occurred as a subsequent result of their experiences [and losses] on the battlefield, really resonated with me. All in all, the characters are charming and endearing, and I found myself quite moved by them and [most of] their struggles.
Summary: I chose this particular format because seldom have I seen an anime/manga that managed to coolly subvert or lampshade so many shounen tropes, and all while weaving a charmingly hopeful tale about what it means to be an adult and the importance of serving as a good example for the next generation. Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer, admittedly, has it's ups and downs, with it's ups being quirky at that, but I can say with all confidence that though it may start out in a deceptively easygoing manner, it finishes in a spectacular and satisfying way [with a Name Drop, no less]. At any rate, whether you've read 10 manga or a thousand, I sincerely doubt that you’ll find another story quite like this one.read more
Aaaah, Samidare. When a friend lent me the volumes, I thought "Well, this is gonna be the oh-so-typical manga about a princess and his servant, loaded with boring clichés". Boy, I was dead wrong. In fact, Samidare does employ some clichés and definitely has some faults, but it turned out to be one of the most enjoyable mangas I've read recently. It is a rare case of a work regarding which I'd like to be completely objective and to acknowledge each and every lacking feature of it, but its merits completely outclass everything else, proving that you can have something outstanding even if not all the parts of it are of the same, sky-high quality. I'd even dare to say it represents a bold and unconventional take on the princess format, capable of holding its own as a unique work in the genre.
In this manga, the heroes must face the evil Animus, a man with supernatural powers who wants to destroy the Earth with his Golems and his mightiest weapon, Biscuit Hammer. He is opposed by his twin sister Anima and her twelve animal knights, that is to say twelve normal people who have sworn to become knights in symbiosis with guardian animals. In return, they obtain psychic powers and the right to express a wish. Anima herself is a "guardian" of the young Samidare Asahina, the princess who can save the world. The element of novelty is that Samidare herself wants to destroy the Earth for her own reasons, and she is aided by Yuuhi Amamiya, knight of the Lizard (alongside the lizard Noi Crezant), who has sworn eternal loyalty to his beloved princess. This element alone brings a unique taste to an otherwise banal plot, because the reader is always engaged with this element of persistent instability and uncertainty: will the princess turn against the other knights? Or she will fight alongside them? If that wasn't enough, there are little twists to make the plot more exciting, and a consistent series of climaxes which grants the story an always engaging pace, to avoid any form of boredom; it's worth to mention that the author employs narrative devices to prevent the plot to be always linear and too predictable. There is a fine balance between highly dramatic moments (be prepared to shed some tears, too!), action, dialogues and comic relief in a typical Japanese fashion - never to the point of becoming annoying, though.
The story is of course brought forward by the action and the battles with Animus's Golems, but despite this the reader does not get the feeling that battles are the most important things. They are fairly planned, but also quite plain, and they do not benefit from the art style either - this one being really simple in every aspect, and a tad lackluster in the graphic representation of monsters and special powers. So, what ultimately glorifies an action manga with ultimately average action? It's the characters. Samidare's most astonishing accomplishment, and also the reason why the story can capture you so efficiently, is the depth of its characters: the twelve animal knights are intensively characterized, each with chapters completely devoted to their development; some (coherently, the adults), have a set personality developed in years of life, but we get to look extensively to their backgrounds and motivations; others (especially, but not only, the children) can change quite drastically during the course of the series, they GROW. The best things about the characters is that they feel alive, and are all protagonists in their own right. Sure, Yuuhi and princess Samidare are the "main" protagonists, but aside from the mere plot reason there are other characters who experience a growth of the same magnitude, and EVERY other character is graced with the same level of characterization. This counts for Anima and Animus, as well: they are more than mere humans, so they tend to present divine characteristics, but never once this leads to plain and generic godlike characters, quite the contrary in fact. The author also takes time to experiment with the peculiar eleventh golem - discover it for yourself, but I can assure you'll be surprised. Keep in mind that this remains an action-oriented manga, so do not expect Freudian psychoanalysis or other pleasantries: but in the genre, they are some of the most compelling characters I've had the pleasure to emphasize with. The ultimate message is about becoming adults and understanding the things that make life worth living; in this sense, it's crucial to note how we get a detailed epilogue about our heroes, ten years after the events of the main story. It's so beautiful to see how our knights have found their place in life and how they "grew a little more". Talk about awesome characters...
All-in-all, Samidare does have some weaknesses in some pretty basic aspects, like the princess herself, but the enormous strengths displayed elsewhere make this manga a little gem: the story is good, the pace is infectious and the superb character depth and development will capture your attention. You will feel like an animal knight in your own right. So put all possible prejudices aside, as I did, and enjoy this little masterpiece.