The plot revolves around the Junk, a system which acts as a super-suit, giving the user super strength, agility, and weapons systems, as well as some communication capabilities. Currently, there are two units in the world, both in Japan; one white unit and one darker, black unit. The eye style, according to Asamiya, "Is a mono-eye style.... but there's actually two eyes." The suits require an eight hour charge up period, and only one hour of performance is delivered. Though the suits are free, users must fill out a report and send it to the manufacturer, which has not yet been named.
Okay just to let you all know I haven't read all of the manga yet!! So when I do this may change but I felt that Junk deserved at least one review because it is such a great manga ... so far.
STORY: Alright, the story of Junk is fairly simple and has been sort of overdone in manga and anime throughout the years. It's your simple "teenage boy gets suit and starts kicking butt" manga like the Guyver and other things like that. That's why I had to ulitmately give it a seven, although it is well done and does add some
new things to the genre, the basis for the story has been simply overplayed one too many times.
That said, this is not the Guyver, it is unlike anything you have seen before in this kind of genre. Unlike the Guyver, which is dark in its own right, this series is dark. It is darker than dark, darker than black. (Sorry couldn’t resist throwing in that anime reference.) There is a lot of violence and sexual things that several readers might be turned off by but I think it adds to the whole of Junk.
Also, he doesn’t use the suit to save the world, oh no, he uses it to serve himself. He beats up bullies who did … sexual things to him in school. (Did I not warn you of the darkness of this manga?) He uses it to get into a packed concert and other things along those lines. He is not your happy-go-lucky hero, he’s a kid with serious problems in a world that spawns even more problems.
ART: The art is gorgeous throughout and it is fun to read. The only real problem comes in with the fight scenes between two Junks. The angles are sporadic and sometimes it is hard to tell what exactly is going on but they do add to the pacing of the fight scenes which are fast, brutal, and relatively realistic. (Think the Bourne Ultimatum in manga form and you’ll have about what it is.)
CHARACTER: This is where Junk really shines, as you can tell from the ten. The characters in this series are amazingly well-done. All of the Junk owners have serious problems: the main character (black Junk) is a recluse and a pervert, the white Junk is … famous? (Can’t say too much without spoiling the series for you.) And the red Junk is a murderous psychotic.
But here’s the thing: none of them is the good guy and none of them is the bad guy. They are not white or black they are just different shades of gray, some being darker or lighter but never truly white or black. If anyone in this series is truly good, it would have to be the police force, and if anyone is truly bad … then telling you about them would ruin the series for you. (Sorry!) The only time I have ever seen characters like this in comics (I say comics not manga because these are American series.) are the characters in all of Sin City and the heroes in the Watchmen.
It’s just so good to read about these characters and how different they are and their problems. None of them are the standard hero/villain archetypes like you see in other manga and anime. And the character and suit designs are wonderful although the suits are a bit hard to distinguish from one another at the beginning.
ENJOYMENT: If you can’t tell by now, I really enjoyed this manga. It is one of my top five manga series. The whole thing is about as addicting as crystal meth and at the end of each volume you’ll be begging for more. The pacing is excellent for the most part, some of the discussions within the police department are somewhat boring but for the most part it’s great. The plot is engaging and it throws some unexpected things at you quite a bit. One word: Amazing.
OVERALL: I wanted to give this series a ten but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. The only two reasons I couldn’t, and they are very minor, are the slowdowns during the police department discussions and the hard to read fight scenes. But these are not good reasons why not to pick it up.
Also, this is a very dark manga and if you are into uplifting shounen stuff, stay away from Junk. It will not make you very happy. But if you like your manga dark and your characters gray then make sure to check this out.
And I have now finished all the manga and the score remains the same. Hurray Junk for not having a crappy ending.
Junk: Record of the Last Hero is one of those generic manga that start with a worthless protagonist who suddenly receives an awesome power that allows him to do whatever he wants. There are hundreds of manga that start with the same premise and do it much better than Junk does, so I would recommend reading those instead because Junk is nothing but a massive waste of your time.
The story begins with an internet lottery that only the first two applicants can win, (unsurprisingly) our ironically named protagonist Hiro, is one of the winners of this lottery. The following day he receives a delivery,
which contains the JUNK system that allows him to transform himself into a superhero for the time limit of an hour. Instead of using his new found powers for good, our protagonist simply beats up his bullies and generally anyone that he does not like or gets in his way. After this Hiro proceeds to kill his own parents by jumping on his home with the full force of the Junk suit, but this does not seem to bother him much, considering that the inheritance he receives afterwards allows him to live comfortably without working. (All of this happens in the first two chapters, so I didn't spoil anything)
After having killed his parents, Hiro is confronted by the owner of the white Junk Suit, a woman, who proceeds to ask him if he wants to be a god or a devil, meaning if he will use his power for good or for evil. Despite not giving a clear answer to the white Junk, in a few chapters it becomes clear that Hiro is just a selfish Devil who does whatever he wants and cares not for the consequences, while the owner of the White Junk Suit, Lisa is a person who helps those in need and protects the innocent, a hero of justice if you mind calling her that.
You would not be mistaken for thinking that this manga is about the rivalry and conflicts of these two characters with clearly opposing personalities and goals, as this is the impression that the manga builds and gives you in the first few chapters. But in actuality, this is something that is quickly put to the sidelines and becomes irrelevant, and this is where the flaws of Junk start to show. Despite having such a simple story, the mangaka is too incompetent to do anything with it; he does not even know what to do with it, which is evident from the fact that not even the characters themselves know what they want to do, Hiro himself is either laying on hiss ass being a NEET or he is using the Junk Suit for pathetic things like bullying 13 year old kids because they said mean things about him on the internet. (Yes, this is the maturity level of this manga.)
There is no clear indication that the manga is going anywhere at all, the characters do not do anything to influence the story, they simply react to the various random events that spring up, which is not what you would be expecting from people with powerful superhuman suits at their disposal. The main cast is extremely passive, which makes this manga an utterly boring read. The various random events that I mentioned range from kidnapping, terrorism and newspaper scandals, none of which really have anything to do with a greater whole, they are just there for the characters to finally do something, because they never do anything on their own as they lack concrete goals and objectives.
This was already quite bad, but the sad reality is that the manga only gets worse after it gets into its second half. It starts breaking its own rules by introducing first a third Junk Suit, then later an entire battalion of them, which make the original ones moot and irrelevant. Likewise the time limit of 1 hour is extended to 8 hours, the element of having to hide their identities as the Supermen becomes redundant due to this, which actually played an important role in the beginning as Hiro was constantly getting tailed by a policeman, who wanted to bust his identity as the Black Junk Suit owner.
Towards the latter parts of the manga the established characters shift from being reactors to mere spectators, meaning that they no longer even react to the events happening around them, only watch and comment on them. Hiro stops using the suit and becomes a high school student who does absolutely nothing, other than fucking around with his harem, the cop with a personal vendetta against the Black Junk simply ceases investigation simply because he was told to, the women in Hiro's life are conveniently moved to another town so they would not interfere with the plot, and Lisa willingly gives up her white junk suit and sinks into obscurity like every other character. The worst part is that these actions are in contradiction with their previously established character, but the author clearly did not care about that.
The above happens as a result of the author quickly trying to push a plot into the end of the manga, which is some bullshit involving terrorism, conspiracies, Sakatomo Ryouma, a religious sect with infinite money, revolutions and the Japanese Democratic League. It is as stupid as it sounds and this was the final straw for me when I dropped this crap at chapter 30. Overall the story is simply atrocious and is what you would expect from a person who tried writing a story for the first time in his life and utterly failed, except the author, Kia Asamiya, has written more enough manga prior to Junk, so his incompetence is inexcusable.
The only thing that is worse than the story of this manga, are its characters. I already mentioned how all of them are passive and that they lack any goals that would drive them forward. What I didn't talk about was the fact that the characters in Junk can be divided into two categories, Hiro and stock characters. I'm saying this because even though Hiro is a shit character, he is still the only one who receives any form of characterization, everyone else might as well be some generic filler manga character taken right out from a stock database. I'm serious; you can pretty much describe almost every character as generic childhood friend, generic cheerful schoolgirl, generic vendetta cop, generic murdering psychopath, generic wannabe hero, generic Lolita girl who is totally 18 years old, etc. The point is, none of them have anything unique to them, and for all intents and purposes they are nothing more than shallow stock characters.
There are also too many characters for a 35 chapter manga, and many of them are unnecessary and could be removed from the story with ease; I felt that some characters were only added so that they would needlessly prolong the story as filler characters (Red Junk Suit in particular). Its very hard to get attached or care about any of them because of their sociopathic nature, worthlessness or the simple fact that they are barely given screen time or because they fade into irrelevance as the manga progresses.
One of the big "plots” of this manga, if you want to call it a plot, is the fact that Hiro's character pretty much changes from mid half. In the beginning he was an angst filled man-child with anger issues who lashed out on everyone who looked at him the wrong way, but when he stops using his Junk Suit and goes back to school, he is suddenly apathetic and emotionless as if he was a rock, he does nothing but observe. I guess this was meant as some kind of pathetic attempt to make the reader care about Hiro or redeem him in the eyes of the reader, since he was pretty much unlikable before, if it was, then it certainly failed, especially due to the fact that it happens from one chapter to another without any proper development or build up, he essentially just switches personality at the author’s whim, instead of naturally evolving.
I wish I could stop here with the bad points, but unfortunately Junk is also a failure in the art department, so I have to comment on that as well. I don't want to be rude, but the author of this manga is very lazy, I'm saying this simply due to the fact that many times during the manga he does not even draw in the facial features of the characters, which is odd considering most of the manga is told in dialogues and monologues, focusing closely in on the characters. If somebody reads this manga and pays attention, then they will be able to notice how sometimes the mangaka will only draw a single eye on a character and no other features whatsoever, which just looks very bad.
Laziness aside, the manga also has same-face issues, meaning that the facial features of a character are exactly the same as another, the most obvious example being Hiro and Ryouko, whose faces pretty much look exactly the same. The scenes and backgrounds are also lacking in detail and quite simplistic, but they get the job done, so there is no point in bashing on them, but what I cannot forgive are the action scenes. For a supposedly action oriented manga, the action scenes and the way they are drawn are utter crap, and its one of the reasons why I was bored while reading it aside the inaction of the characters. To put it simply, it fails to make the fights exciting, and many times you will have a hard time telling what is even going on during a fight, due to the incompetent drawing of the mangaka.
There is really nothing I can bring to Junk’s defense, other than the fact that there are manga out there that are even more horrible than Junk, so it still doesn't deserve a score lower than 3 at worst, and if I'm generous I could also rank it a 4 at best.