The year is AD 2048. Japan is connected to the Eurasian continent by a transcontinental railroad. The capital, Tokyo, has become a crucible of criminals and terrorists. And so, in the metropolitan darkness a mysterious presence attacks and slaughters people, unnoticed, night after night... Just what are these "things that are not human" living in hiding in the human world? And just who is this "Origin" person who faces them?
"The first thing I saw when I was born was the snow gently falling from the sky."
Origin is the latest completed work by author & artist Boichi, a man who's stock in the anime and manga community seems to be rising with every single work done, and now with his role as artist on Dr. Stone, a popular manga in Shonen Jump, interest in him will only continue to grow in thanks to the currently airing adaptation of said work. But Dr. Stone isn't the focus of this review, instead this is about the story of one robot's arduous path towards self-realization.
And with this marking
the last time a translated chapter for Origin will release, it's easy to look back on and think that it started off so hot with it's immediate eye-catching art and mature tone yet ended up barely hobbling over the finish line when everything was said and done.
Regardless, the first thing that's apparent in anything that Boichi has worked on is the quality of art present, and with this most recent work we see it at its best so far. With his previous manga there tended to be some attribute, whether it be the overall roughness in the character outlines and environments, or some heavy shading done to character designs that would end up taking away from the deep level of detailing that was otherwise present. There was always something distracting that stood out and the overall product suffered because of it, but with Origin these previous flaws were focused on and touched upon leaving us with a manga whose art at least, is as close to flawless as it's ever been. The photo-realistic art style is apparent for nearly the entirety of the story save for a few moments where we are shown a much more cartoonish and round art style that is more akin to his work done for Dr. Stone. But these aren’t used as a way to cop out, instead they’re meant specifically to dictate the tone of a scene and when you see the art style change you can tell it’s meant to be a lot more light-hearted, and comedic at times. Boichi enjoys including elements of comedy in his works and switching to his cartoonish style allows for him to not sacrifice the seriousness that his normal detail-rich style has, resulting in products that are almost always pleasing to look at throughout.
The only real negative that can be found is how he draws his females, of which they almost all resemble that of a supermodel with physique’s that are all drawn in a way to best show off either their legs, chest, or asses, not to mention all of them appearing to be moderately skinny and worst of all, all having faces that are almost identical to one another. This is something that is apparent in all of his works and while the female characters themselves are written competently, this design choice, and really the author’s preference in his females does get tiring to see all of the time. Somewhat ironically is that in Origin itself is the most variance in character designs even with the females and yet this “iconic” body type still makes an appearance in multiple females that are shown and featured.
As for the characters in Origin there is only one main character to speak of, as well as only one "main" side character. Beyond that there are a number of other side characters we are introduced to during Origin's journey, however most of their roles are so minuscule and lacking, such as the main villain, that there isn’t much to say beyond a line or two describing what they could have been. But hey the story is called Origin, and speaking of him it is revealed almost immediately, that he is an android, or robot. When we meet him we are presented with a cold, calculating machine that is focused solely on searching for something and as such, and to his backstory, we are presented with a blank slate in terms of a main character. What separates him from being a self-insert for the reader is the fact that his lack of any meaningful traits is a specific tool used by the author in order to use the environment of Tokyo that surrounds him to educate and influence his development as someone who is attempting to learn how to live. And it’s in this openness done by the author with this use of environmental storytelling that one of the main issues for this story starts to crop up. Beyond the other character of importance in this story no one else is really given a chance to shine and so it leaves the moments where our main character has those deep moments of realization feeling empty as you almost wonder where he pulls such prolific thoughts from, coupled with the frequency of said moments and it eventually leads into seeming more like Boichi is just trying to say whatever might seem cool and will work for the moment, which ends up cheapening a lot of the messages shared that would otherwise have more of an impact
But speaking of the other character, her name is Hirose Mai, a charming coworker of Origin's that we are introduced to not so long after the introductory arc concludes. She is an innocent, robot-loving woman who unfortunately, or rather fortunately, falls for our handsome main character almost instantaneously and thus you might imagine what her role is to this story. She is the perfect compliment to Origin's artificial personality and with a caring, nurturing attitude she is the standout character, offering a completely different look to his world, and thus opening his eyes towards the one thing he struggles to understand the most, love. And really she opens up the hearts of us readers too, with a cute character design that is complemented by her ditziness it’s almost impossible to resist feeling some sort of connection and sympathy while watching her deal with her own struggles and develop as a character, yet at the same time being the catalyst for all of the changes that our main character will go through. It almost seems as if this part of the story should have been focused on more, or in a sense less, because in comparison to the overall arching plot that is going on while Origin and Mai are interacting with each other, the story of those two is a much more touching and emotional tale than what we are actually given. So what do we get?
An android goes on a journey to find purpose in its existence, at first glance it’s a common synopsis heard before and yet thanks to the double-edged sword of Boichi’s writing, the journey itself is enthralling, being one half a delicate romp through the inner workings of our main character’s mind, and the other half a rapidly intense showing of no-holds barred fighting. The best part is that when these two are hitting the right notes at the same time it hits a perfect balance that doesn’t overshadow either and instead elevates the story towards the thought of something great...up until it isn’t. Due to either scheduling conflicts or Boichi wanting to focus solely on working on Dr. Stone, that perfect balance mentioned earlier is disregarded and the pacing of the story is thrown out of the window. This is a notable change as well that occurs through the middle of a well-paced arc that turns it into a sprint to the finish. Up until said point, arc's had been spaced out with about fifteen to twenty chapter allotted to each major arc which allowed for characters to be fleshed out and for the arc to end on a satisfying note, the writing is at its peak here and leads itself to being competent, rather than insulting for the reader. With new characters being introduced and utilized properly, fights featuring gorgeous choreography and panel work, the emotional weight that is felt behind Origin as he begins to take hold of what he wants. All of this happens and it hits the right beats and then for whatever reason, it’s thrown out of the window and instead all of that doesn’t matter anymore.
Overall, the art is still outstanding throughout but everything else is not, instead of caring for what will happen, you just want to see how Origin will end, no longer feeling invested in anyone but the main character as plot points and new characters are introduced and left behind, or even worse, waved off with some made-up and outlandish use of science and theory that feels out of place in a story that felt grounded in its universe up until a few chapters prior, this results in a piss-poor ending that has lost any emotional weight it had to it all you’re left with is wondering what could have been lingering long after the last page. That’s not to say the entire work should be ignored, it just sours the overall experience, akin to buying a new car and for it to work fine for a couple of months, only for the transmission to randomly fail one day so you go and look for a replacement of the same car only to realize that the entire line of cars has been recalled so all you’re left with is the bad memories of what happened at the end with it.
If you've read any of Boichi's other Manga such as Sun Ken Rock or Dr. Stone then you already know to expect some top tier art and action scenes. Origin tells the Tale of an Artificially Intelligent Robot who is on a journey of self discovery to essentially "become more human" by acquiring different emotions throughout his journey. In order to live a full-filling life as his creator/father said it is necessary for him to take down the other AI robots his father created which seek to do harm to humans and their society. Boichi does a great job with creating uniquely distinct and likable
characters throughout all of his manga and Origin has followed suit.
Every character has distinct personality traits and their own motives throughout the manga which to me makes this journey much more enjoyable as its easy to find a character that you may relate too on a personal level. Overall my enjoyment of this Manga is about 9/10 purely off the art and action scenes although i'd give the overall plot and storyline about a 7.
The reason for this is that while it does give some backstory on the motives of the MC etc.. it still isn't enough at its current point in this manga's production. Perhaps the storyline will get a bit more complex and reveal more in the future but as of right now its "just okay"(dont expect anything sort of existential thought provoking content). Ultimately this manga boils down to 1 word "COOL" and thats okay :P
Origin is not a very good manga. The characters are not very well developed (or maybe that's due to there only being 38 chapters) except for maybe Origin. The story itself isn't amazing either, often only reaching mediocre, and is mostly cheese. The art is good, but nothing exceptional. So why do I rate this series a 7?
Because I found it to be an extremely fun read
While Origin lacks in story and characters, it makes up somewhat with the action. The action is on a level I haven't experienced much in the world of manga. "Turning pages" ruins the flow for me, but not
for Origin. Origin has induced in me a state of childish glee. The action and story, while cheesy, are extremely enjoyable for me.
Origin is not a particularly good manga, however, the protagonist is a ROBOT NINJA. How could you not try it out?
As the illustrator for one of my favourite ongoing mangas right now: Dr. Stone, I thought I would check out his own ongoing series - Origin.
I must say, like the art in Dr. Stone, Boichi has also managed to maintain high quality art in Origin, even more detailed in fact. (Although that is to be expected for a bimonthly? manga.) I’ve read the first few chapters of Sun Ken Rock and was really not into it though.
The premise is quite simple, and not very original though. It it set in the year 2048 around a humanoid robot - Origin, who aims to blend into a
society of humans, with the risk of being found out everyday as well as tasked to eliminate other badly behaving humanoid robots, as his “father” wishes.
I find that the slight comedic elements fit in quite well. It isn’t forced and comes in the form of many slice-of-life elements that the inhuman protaganist faces that he doesn’t understand. I feel as the comedy in this series is better than in Sun Ken Rock (where I find the comedy to be forced, and poorly timed).
You also get to see how Origin, improve himself by modifying himself after every battle and learn from his past experiences, much like how a normal protagonist would improve after every battle. One thing I will critique is that he seems like an “overpowered” individual, even though he isn’t and actually risks being caught every time. This is due to the way Origin narrates every move he makes. I feel that the only way this has worked in the manga is because he is not a human.
One major negative for me is the main female character/love-interested. I do not like her design and she annoys me. Despite being an “intellectual” character, she has done nothing helpful as of yet and is one of those naive, clumsy, nice-girls, I’m hoping that she will not be the actual main love-interest but from chapter 35-ish, that does seem to be the case. I really don’t like her and seriously hope there will be another, much better female later on.
Overall the plot isn’t particularly amazing, and quite predictable. However I did have a great time reading the action scenes and the artwork is top class. I recommend it if your bored and you want to see cool pictures without having to think too deeply into the story.
Oh yeah, this manga has is a seinen and has (female) nipples so if you don’t like that stuff then don’t read!