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.
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.
"My heart... bowed completely to the wishes of the little devil standing before me, in this story of the Earth's destruction."
Before I start the actual review, let me just get something out of the way. From this it may seem like I give out 10s to manga, like I give candy to children on Halloween. In fact it is the opposite, this is the only true 10 rating I ever gave to a manga. I have another one in my list but that's for special reasons. So, as you probably realized already, this is my all-time favorite. Still, I will try and go through what
people may point out as its negative points as unbiased as possible, while knowing that doing so completely is impossible. Oh and sorry if this turns out extremely long, anyone who reads until the end deserves a virtual high-five. I hope you like this review and, more importantly, I hope you give this manga a chance.
Onward to the actual review, starting with an introduction. Many times people ask me what I like about manga. They ask me why I don't just read a book, watch a movie or see a play at the theater. It's always hard to answer this question. I always answer quite vaguely. Manga has a unique style of storytelling and a unique style of story itself. It goes beyond books in its own ways of expression. It develops better than movies with its panel, dialogue and image display. I try to say something along these lines, but, I don't know if its due to a certain bias, a certain stereotype connected to manga/anime and its fans, or simply due to my social inabilities, people always look at me as if I was an ignorant, illiterate kid. Hoshi no Samidare would be the answer to that question. I am positive that it does what no movie or book will ever do in a way they can never do. It is a manga that doesn't try to be anything else but the very example of what manga can manage beyond movies and books. Some manga are praised because they are so realistic and their contents could very well be the contents of the aforementioned 2 entertainment mediums, like Monster for example, where people always say something along those lines: "It's like a book", "it could very well be a thriller movie", etc. Not to degrade Monster in any way (since I like it quite a lot), but I can only see that as an insult on manga as an entertainment business. It's like saying that the best manga stories can almost be worthy of books and movies, basically implying that it is inferior to those 2. HnS wouldn't work very well as a book, much less as a movie, and I'm damn glad with that!
"My lady’s goal is to defeat the wizard’s ultimate golem which orbits around the Earth, the Biscuit Hammer. Then, she will destroy the Earth with her own fist. She is the lady of the ring who will save the Earth, as well as the evil Lucifer who will crush this planet. And I am her ever loyal subject." - Yuuhi, the main character.
HnS's story is, to say it quite simply, absurd in many ways. Ridiculous could be used to describe one or two plot points, in fact. Not in a negative sense though. Basically there is this giant titanic hammer floating in space called Biscuit Hammer, which will smash it to pieces, thus bringing the end of the world. A princess and 12 knights were chosen to defend the Earth, by fighting the golems sent by the creator of the Hammer, who is initially referred to as Mage, each knight has an animal companion and is gifted one wish in order to compensate for entering such a fight. Our main character is Yuuhi, a guy who had a pretty traumatic childhood, which made him a bitter, lonely and plain person. He wants no part of it until he is drawn by Asahina Samidare, the princess, and her crazy plan. Samidare only plans to destroy the Hammer in order to be the one destroying the Earth herself, since in her eyes the Earth is hers!
The story goes through several phases as we meet the other 11 knights. The pace varies greatly with those phases. There are several chapters in the middle that almost feel like a slice of life, to give a quick example. In these variations lies a good or bad point depending on the reader. Personally I loved how the story doesn't settle for one steady simple pace, taking hold of the reader and guiding him along on a journey as events go by. But I can also see people getting frustrated with it, as there are some quite slow paced scenes dedicated merely to character development. That can be quite frustrating if you’re too excited to see what’s next and how our characters will proceed. If you look at it that way, indeed it slightly breaks the flow of the story. That is something you have to be prepared for. Don’t crave for what’s next, let the author draw you in in his own way. Everything has a meaning in HnS. The story doesn’t waste chapters, doesn’t simply go to the beach for the sake of it. The simple interactions between the characters that make up a big portion of the manga is essential for the story itself.
The dialogue is quite awesome. It made me want to learn Japanese to find anything that is lost in translation. The dialogue and how it is displayed is very important here. Enjoy the panels one by one and see how they were carefully placed. Read the lines and notice their sequence and where they appear considering the characters. These small details are a part of what makes this amazing and it’s a pity that fast readers usually go through them without care. Some lines seem meaningless but may hold important value later on. Cherish every word and don’t just read as fast as possible in order to just say you actually read it.
When it comes to genres, HnS is a mix of most of them. It has drama, romance, action, comedy… There are several scenes dedicated to each of them. The deadpan humor of the beginning is hilarious, and on later volumes you can always count on the usual joke to light up the story every once in a while. I will address romance in the characters section. The action is not very good itself. You should NOT read this for the fights. This is NOT a battle manga. That’s a very important point that has to be laid out clearly. If you’re looking for awesome fights with over-powered opponents and cool power-ups every ten pages, look elsewhere or you won’t be satisfied. But if you are looking for meaningful battles that can get you excited due to your connection to the characters, then maybe you will be satisfied here. I really liked the battles but they’re in no way the main point of the manga. The drama and the emotional parts are well done but they depend on the reader. If you pay attention to the character development and feel like it was good, then most likely you will love the emotional parts. I nearly cried twice and that had never happened to me in any anime, manga or anything else. It can be very strong at times, and it is magnificently helped by the outstanding dialogue as well.
This is, in my most honest opinion, the best point of the manga. It has the best character development I’ve seen. It is incredible how well most of the important characters are developed. Yuuhi’s development is insanely good and actually believable. Samidare’s reasoning, personality and connections are revealed and evolved in an outstanding manner. Every wish made by the knights bears meaning considering their personalities, so by analyzing their wishes you can draw conclusions about them and see them play out later on. Here, I can’t be unbiased so I’ll just present my reasons. I’ve already said this in my Onani M. Kurosawa review but I prefer weak characters over the awesome, all-powerful, genius, gains-power-from friendship characters. I like to see portrayed the weakness in people, their dark side. It makes them more believable and relatable. Yuuhi is one of those. He’s cold at times, has no interest in pretty much anything, basically lives life just for the sake of it. That is justified and understandable by taking a look at his childhood. But he changes. He doesn’t become a hero overnight like some characters I could mention, but he changes gradually. Every volume you see a little thing changing in him. Either due to Samidare’s influence, due to his meeting with his grandpa, or to the first group of friends he ever found himself in, Yuuhi changes. He’s only human after all. Then the relationships between characters are very good as well, particularly the strange one between our lead characters. A master-servant relationship, a friendly relationship, a romantic relationship, it takes many forms throughout the story culminating in some tear-inducing final chapters.
One other important detail is the relationship between the knights and their “pets”. I hate every strange animal that for some reason shounen authors seem to love including in stories, honestly it’s just irritating and I can’t, for the love of God, understand why they’re even included in any stories at all. Well here it’s a different situation. The animals are essential. And most important of all the relationship between them and their masters is absolutely priceless. Not to spoil, but every time I read the end of chapter 6 I feel a tiny need to cry at the interaction between Yuuhi and Noi, amazing moment right there.
The art is different from the usual. It isn’t brilliant, but you grow into it. And most important of all it fits the story and the character designs are appropriate. Considering that, not much to say here. Don’t let your first impression of the art deter you from reading on.
[Enjoyment & Overall]
I enjoyed every bit. Most things have been said already so I don’t have much to add. It’s a very peculiar manga. It’s quite hard to put into words what makes it so strange besides its ridiculous plot points, but I think you’ll get what I mean as you read on. I can’t guarantee you’ll love it, I can say it’s very likely you’ll like it, but I can safely say it’ll remain on your mind as a particularly unique experience as a manga reader. A modern classic that should’ve been more popular only in order to bring about a new age for manga, in order to give birth to pride in the industry. If that happened, maybe hearing “wow it almost feels like reading a book” wouldn’t be that much of a compliment.
"An adult is someone who lives having fun ... a big boy. A person who can look at children with a smile That's an adult! An adult laughs and has fun to make the children envy them. To show them that life is full of desires"
What is it to be an adult?
There was a time when I did not read a manga that at the same time passes great messages, but deep down it does not take itself seriously.
(Story = 10/10):
The story is a seinen that looks more like a shounen, for it to make several satires with the generic shounens, but in the
background it manages to be better in all aspects of a battle shounen. The powers are very well developed that are the powers of each animal knight, very creative for each character and very well used in battles that are epic, with a good frame of the blows that makes each impact better during a battle. I love how the story brings several important messages like being an adult, the consequences of being an adult, other messages very well explored as you accept yourself, believe in people, find a reason for life, are all well built for each character, and yet the story can get the impression of not being taken seriously by the satire that can do to other shounens. The scenes of slice of lifes are well done, very natural relationship with each person with great dialogues, the comedy is great with a good comic team.
(Characters = 10/10):
Each character is very unique and well developed in the story, very well written, each one has its conflict that is going to get overcome throughout history, and its powers for each one has a sense, is not treated in a random, even more each animal of each character make sense and is well developed with a great relationship to its wearer. The protagonist is one of the best characters, he passes a different protagonist tone, but at the same time has generic dialogues for satire to the shounens, I liked very much the way he was well developed according to his conflicts that were very well done, and the way he relates to other conflicts of each character is sensational.
(Art = 8/10):
The trait is well done, it is not very detailed in the setting and in each character, but it has a good character design, it has great moments that manages to express the expression of each character, especially in a pose that is very stylish, and when there is a fight it is sensational, the blows are very stylish, manages to bring a good impact, besides the enemies, the beasts are all well done.
(Enjoyment = 100000000/10):
By far it was a great read, the pace of the reading is excellent, did not feel at any point that it was dull. The messages of the work are great, there are incredible characters that I loved, the art is very good, it is a complete manga that manages to do all this with a few chapters.
Very rare to see a manga that makes deconstruction of the genre shounen at the same time as it is a parody of a shounen, but what I was most impressed was by the messages that was very well executed that made me thrill in the final stretch that was sensational.
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.
Also, a bunch of tears included. I thought I wrote a masterpiece, but then I deleted half of it when I decided to preview it. Stupid me. Should've just submitted it. Never again. I seriously want to cry. This is so ironic- the only half that I kept is the part about the flaws.
Sometimes you read manga so great that you wish there was a larger number you could rate it because it doesn't even compare to the other manga that you also rated as a ten out of ten. Sometimes, it is so great that even
people who dont like writing reviews will decide to sit down and write one, just so they can brag about it, the same way someone who is so stressed out that they would happily punch a wall if some of the stress gets released. Hoshi no Samidare is one of these mangas. I'm trying to write this review exactly like the one I wrote before but I'm failing desperately and it's turning out to be crappier then the one I wrote before, so I really apologize. . . Anyway. It reminds me a lot of Puella Magi Mahou Madoka (or something along those lines) and I don't even like PMMM (abbreviating names now. . getting tired. I really want to cry. Oh god.) to be frank. However, both mangas take what you think is an ordinary story full of cute little whatevers and give you a complete shock. Doesn't this manga look boring? With it's half assed, confusing summary, ridiculous names, and its cover with a seemingly huge eyed little girl with old men that you would never find attractive? (This in itself sounds creepy, but I have no such intentions.) Normally, nobody would be interested. However, (and I notice I repeat however an awful lot, so I apologize for that too) anybody who does decide to look past this and actually reads the manga will become hooked.
HnS takes the most oddest group of genres that you would never think to put together and makes the most out of them. Havent you ever read an action manga where you wished and wished for a certain pairing to "come true" (in other words, for your favorite unofficial couple to become an official couple) and kiss or something? Naturally, that does not happen. You are not reading a shoujo manga. It's action. Of course, this also happens with romance mangas where you wish there was more fighting scenes where the main characters look extremely cool. There are also mangas that try to attempt using action and romance but fail greatly. However, HnS suceeds where others dont, while tossing in genres like drama, comedy, psychological, adventure, and ecchi in there. Perhaps because of that, new scenes that ought to be used in manga from now till forever were created, or perhaps the new scenes were created first. I'm not the mangaka, so I don't know which came first.
Perfect as I may believe HnS to be, there will always be those people who disagree. There will always be critics that have to complain and have to criticize in place of having fun and laughing, so this section is for them. If they do not like the art, they will claim it does not fit the story and rate it a 5 while also claiming to be unbiased. Well, that's humans for you.
While trying new stuff is good as is new experiences, if you know for a fact that you don't like ecchi and never will, STOP READiNG/WATCHiNG iT, STOP GOING NEAR IT, AND STOP COMPLAINING BECAUSE ECCHI THINGS WILL ALWAYS BE MADE. Just to note, this is a little piece of my mind to all those people complaining about ecchi things in their reviews. Unnecessary ecchi scenes are not exactly unnecessary. . . they are there for comedic effects, to loosen it up a bit. You could say it is the calm before the storm.
In addition, the art. While I personally think the art is perfect and fine as it is, I can see why some people wouldn't like it. There are people who will think it is too "childish" and "unrealistic". Call me a hypocrite, but if you wanted realistic you can always get your lazy butt off the computer and go say hello to your neighbor.
Another thing- the story. The beginning is a bit. . . off, I'd say. It's a bit slow paced for my preference (I usually prefer stuff that speeds up the pace A WHOLE LOT by chapter . . .10?) and some people might find it confusing. However, this is made up for because everything that you may have found confusing is craftily explained. That can also be applied to some of the characters. (Although not as much.)
This might not even count, but some people might want a more. . . happy-go-lucky type of manga and wish that everybody came back to life (as in, the characters that died. Not really a spoiler, I think.) and that all the characters "pets/sidekicks/minions" could stay with them. (Alright, this kind of is a spoiler.)
Since I'm trying to be spoiler free, I can't really explain why the characters are so likable while most of them still hold qualities that the average person in real life has (and, being honest, most of them are bad things). However, trust me. You will at least like half the characters there are, even if you are the most hateful person in the world. Most likely, you'll hate a character just because you think they look kinda funny. (Again, being honest, I was a tad bit uncomfortable with a fat character being one of the good guys, but even I got use to it and started liking him. Soon enough, you'll even find me crying a long with him. Hey, maybe HnS makes people more open minded!)
Obviously, my enjoyment and overall was outstanding. Hate to end my review so plainly like this when there are obviously so many more things to brag about, but I'm trying to stay unbiased here. Plus, I don't even know how to end things like this. . .
The premise to series is as follows: The is an evil Magician named Animus who is trying to destroy the world with an object called the Biscuit Hammer. To stop this, a girl is given the title of princess and is given 12 knights to combat Animus and his golems. The twist is that the princess only wants to stop Animus so she can destroy the earth herself.
The premise is both simplistic and interesting at the same time. My issue with the story as a whole, is that while it is interesting, a good chunk of the story feels like fluff, or padding if
you will. This is a series that would have been better off as 40 chapters, not 65. A lot of the chapters tend to be "defeat the golem, now here is some filler for you". Mind you, this issue really doesn't come up until chapter 25 or so, but it is still an issue none the less, and takes away from the story, as there are times you will forget the princess even wants to destroy the world, or that she is even a character.
Speaking of characters, another issue the series goes through is giving us an interesting start to each characters plot, but not concluding it. You get this interesting character backstory for most of the characters, and the series goes nowhere with it. It just "gets resolved" in an anticlimactic matter.
Yuuhi, which in this reviewers opinion, can be called the only main character, is our protagonist He does not want to fight, and sees no reason to risk his life to save a world that he hates. Upon meeting the princess and learning of her goals, he decides to help her destroy the earth. Yuuhi is the only character I felt had a complete character development. Every other character had an issue, and had it resolved in 10 pages. To me, this made Yuuhi pretty much carry the manga on his own. If it wasn't for him, I probably would have dropped this manga towards the halfway point, as the padding became more and more apparent.
The art is very simplistic. The characters themselves look fine, however the backgrounds and attacks look very bland. It gets to a point where entire pages look the same as previous pages, as everyone does the same attacks over and over, and the backgrounds are similar for pretty much every fight scene.
I enjoyed the series a lot. The opening 20-25 chapters really caught my interest and made me want to keep reading, as did some of the later chapters. My enjoyment of the series was only hampered by the obvious padding towards the middle, along with the aforementioned issues with character development.
Overall I would recommend the series to anyone looking for a more comedy based shounen series. If you don't mind the battles not being the focus of a series, or want a interesting protagonist.
No matter how bad it is, people love to make assumptions about everything. Despite not knowing anything about it, people will say stuff like "it is bad" or "it is good". Reviewers need to try to keep these assumptions at a minimum, no matter how difficult it is. I made assumptions about Lucifer and The Biscuit Hammer, and was dead wrong.
Lucifer and The Biscuit Hammer (Hoshi no Samidare in the original Japanese) is a fantasy manga series serialized between 2005 and 2010. It is written and illustrated by Satoshi Mizukami.
Amamiya Yuuhi used to be a disconnected college student, however this changed when
the Lizard Knight Noi Crezant, literally a lizard, appeared in front of him during a normal morning. He urges the young adult to find the Princess Samidare as she is the only person able to stop the Biscuit Hammer, a literal hammer that is positioned to creack Earth open. When Yuuhi finds the Princess Samidare Asahina, Noi Crezant is shocked to discover she is not as noble as he had hoped. The pair starts to work together to fight The Mage and stop his Biscuit Hammer, while still working on their own plan.
At first glance, Lucifer and The Biscuit Hammer seems to have a fairly traditional save-the-world storyline, that even was the assumption I made before starting to read it. But, as it goes on, it evolves and becomes much more than that. It is first few chapters are on the slow side and don't make any hugely excitable decisions, but, after this bad beginning, a lot of small twists are introduced, which keeps things surprisingly fresh.
In the last stretch of the story, it is revealed that there is an anime of time-travel/alternate dimensions to it. But it doesn't feel like an asspull because a lot of hints are dropped since the first chapter.
But the main draw of Lucifer and The Biscuit Hammer, without a doubt, is its characters and their development. There are a lot of them, close to fifteen important characters, but they all receive the care they deserve and have to deal with their own problems.
It is very hard to point a stand out in this aspect, as everyone is incredible. Much more developed than the characters of longer-running manga, all of these character have their own personal arc, a quirky personality and a sense of being.
However, the one I personally sympathised the most was Yuuhi. He is originally a person full of hate and very disconnected from the rest of the world, as a result of the way his grandfather raised him. Through the people he meets and the situations he has to overcome, he changes. He becomes happier, more sociable and an even a bit light-hearted. This is not an exactly new character arc, but the magic here comes from the way it was told.
The art is much more simplistic, however. With hints of childishness and a bit of originality, while not having much in terms of details, the visual style of Lucifer and The Biscuit Hammer is instantly recognizable. The character designs are, likewise, neither flashy nor incredibly detailed, but create a real sense of personality to each of the characters.
All of the small twists in the manga made me continue reading after the unassuming beginning, but what truly made me enjoy this story were the characters and their interactions, which were completely brilliant.
I would recommend Lucifer and The Biscuit Hammer to anyone who hates the lack of originality in action manga or to someone looking for great characters.
Story:10/10- Wow, this story is fantastic. She runs away from the cliché of most shounens (protagonist hacker) and puts the protagonist as the weakest, but he is also the most "crazy" there, doing intense and constant training, always going to the limit to get stronger.
This manga is clearly a shounen, but nonetheless it escapes many principles of shounen, and soon begins to become a seinen with much mocking comedy of clichés shounens. The fact that they put sad past and deaths, in the midst of this intense comedy is very cool. In addition to having a story very well narrated, sometimes calm and
profuse, or sometimes so easy and fast that surprises you.
The progression of the story at the beginning is empty and badly made, to the point of almost making me give up reading, but finish chapter 14 or 15 and you can not continue without finishing the rest of the manga. The manga begins only from chapter 14, which has the first death, the pilot for the development of the protagonist, and the beginning of all the mysteries of the work.
Art:9/10-The art is simple, sometimes even poorly made, but it helps a lot in the manga mood. Debauched and simple art acts by helping comedy, with beautiful scenes, detailed scenarios and a clear evolution in the characters' traits. What strikes the most attention are the fights, which are beautiful, even the drawing being simple.
Character: 10/10-Not all were developed and worked, of course.
But the ones that were developed were made in a sensational way, either protagonist or secondary. Already begins with the personality of the characters, everyone has some kind of problem in their lives, whether it is a family problem, a health problem, a socialization problem or a disturbance in their own personality. The protagonist is one of them, who starts with a huge disturbance in his personality, to the point of wanting to destroy the Earth. But throughout the manga, with certain deaths and events the protagonist changes his way of thinking, to the point of challenging Asahina herself with the goal of stopping her. It also has an immense evolution of strength, which was revealed gradually. He came to battle against all the animal warriors in favor of defending Asahina while she was going to destroy the Earth,
Other characters also have their own volume or chapter for development, other than that it also occurs throughout the manga. Staying with my 10.
Enjoyment: 10/10-The conclusion was also very cool, with an unexpected turnaround, demonstrating the power and devotion of Yuuhi by Asahina, as well as his love for her. That last chapter showing the life of each one was excellent, there is not much to comment, we only know that the journey has been long.
It's very hard to classify this manga. It's a comedy, an action, a slice of life, a drama, and a psychological all rolled into one, with respective attributes shown throughout the manga, some alot while others not as much. Upon reading the first 3 chapters, I doubt anyone would have thought that there are several tragedies throughout this manga, how it could it pull it off with all the silliness. It's a jack of all trades of genres, with all of their best accompanying aspects and little of their tropes and bad parts, it is a manga about a suicide pact between a girl who
cannot accept her mortality and a sullen boy who loves her and it is a very good manga.
Hoshi no Samidare, better known by subtitle Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer, has a somewhat simple setting. Student Amamiya Yuuhi is tasked by the talking lizard knight, Sir Noi Crezant, to protect the princess of earth from the mage's golems and stop the Earth's destruction from a doomsday device called the Biscuit Hammer. Yuuhi is given all this information in the first few pages, and quickly throws the lizard out through the window. Sir Noi Crezant, not so easily shaken, teleports back into the room and reiterates the situation with a more flustered tone. Yuuhi tries to clear his head by going to his classes, only to find the Lizard does not give up and that he cannot be seen or heard by anyone else. On the way back to home, Yuuhi is attacked by a one eyed rock monster, which Noi identifies as a golem. Noi tells Yuuhi to use the weapon of the Lizard Knight, domain control, to fight the golem with the power of the domain control ring that has been placed on Yuuhi's finger. Yuuhi summons his power and uses the weapon to do no damage to the walking bolder, who tries to cut him in half. Out of nowhere, a girl comes and punches the golem into smithereens. Noi Crezant identifies this girl as Samidare the princess of Earth, and that is the beginning of the story with the Mage and his golems, the Beast Knights, and the Biscuit Hammer.
Initially in the story, no background information is given besides the stuff Noi Crezant spews out in a flurry in the first few pages. There is an unidentified being as the mage who supposedly controls a device known as the Biscuit Hammer, and is sending golems to attack the characters. Why there is a talking lizard, magical rings, and superhuman princesses, no one yet knows. Fortunately all things are revealed with time, and this manga does not save all mysteries for the end, with most of the information give out by the halfway point, the fifth volume. As you will soon tell by the tone though, this is not a story that revolves around its yet to be revealed info to keep the reader's interest, its rather the opposite, because this is a slice of life manga as well, but more on that later. The story itself I enjoyed alot, it was simplistic in design, concise in execution, and its characters the highlight of the mix. To me it often seems that the shorter manga are the ones with the most concise character development, that is written well enough to not come on as to obvious or forced but still amount to an actual change in personality, with subtle upbringing of these changes the most fragile part of all. Luckily Hoshi no Samidare achieves all of this quite well. It's a bit of a spoiler, but there are other knights like Yuuhi, 12 of them in fact, and they are all characters that are given multiple chapters to highlight them exclusively, giving them a shine despite being side characters. Some very good examples are one character's changes after the passing of another, and another after finding his baby sibling, things like this. It flows well, above all. Yuuhi and Samidare's development differ in circumstance, while both of these characters change according to the plots progression, they are not truly highlighted like the rest until the very end. Yuuhi pledges himself as a knight to the princess, the princess being a 16 year old girl who wants to destroy the entire planet after they defeat the Mage who is trying to destroy the planet. It's this kind of nonsense that the reader knows is not as simple as it may seem, and is intrusively linked to the character of the Princess and Yuuhi, the protagonist. I don't want to spoil anything, so I'll leave the development at that. The actual story is interesting though, and serves more purpose then just developing characters, although it is not quite as essential to enjoyment of the manga as the former is. As I mentioned in the introduction, this manga tries to do a variety of other things as well and for the most part succeeds. The sad parts are very sad, the slice of life is slicey, and the comedy is funny. The romance is very slow, and does not take a central role until the end and even then its nothing too brazen, in fact there is more romance going on with side characters.
Quick passage to talk about the art before I wrap this up. The art is nothing special really. It's very simplistic.
Is it so mediocre that it detracts from the rest of the experience: no. The spreads are drawn fairly well, and like most manga, the mangaka uses tone and atmosphere to fill in for what the art is lacking in several more emotional parts.
This manga is popular for the things it does very well, the story, the characters, the tragedy, the slice of life. But more than that, what this manga really accomplishes is putting all of these elements together into something that actually works. It's a genre diffusion at its finest, and is perfect for anyone looking for a shorter story.
Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer is a manga I had a lot of difficulty convincing someone to read. The story start slow, begin with 2 emo teenager, the name made no sense, and the art style is nothing to write home about. I often just ended up telling them "just trust me and read the damn thing".
Hoshi no Samidare is certainly something special. Anyone that willing to look past the art style and the slow opening will be in for an amazing ride full of all kinds of emotions. The storyline will not make you laugh, but you will smile and cry all the
way till the end.
The message that the author want to converse resonate with my life. I think for many of us, Hoshi no Samidare will be one of the manga that we will never forget.
Did I mention that this manga had some of the most amazing fight in shonen manga?
As an avid manga reader, especially being a massive fan or super-power action stories, not having read any Satoshi Mizukami was a black mark on my record. At the request of a friend, and after a long time coming, I read my first Mizukami manga, starting with his first big hit Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer. Running from 2005-2010, Lucifer became prized gem in many manga circles. Let’s Rock.
PLOT: High above the clouds in space is a massive hammer. Known as the Biscuit Hammer, it’s a tool of the Wizard Animus to destroy the world. However before Animus can use the Biscuit Hammer, he has
to defeat the Princess Anima and her 12 Beast Knights. Rings are show up on the chosen Beast Knights along with the Animal to guide them in their battle. One such person is our main character Amamiya Yuuhi, the lizard knight, with the talking lizard Noi Crezant. However Yuuhi’s distaste for the world leads him to have no interest in its affairs, that is until he meets the chosen princess Samidare, who reveals to him her plan to defeat the wizard so she can destroy the world on her own. Swearing fealty to Samidare, Yuuhi joins the battle to save the world and carry out their secret agenda. The set-up is simple, 13 warriors battle a wizard and 12 golems to save the world, but it’s executed upon quite well. The various golems Animus throws at the Beast Knights plus Samidare and Yuuhi’s secret plan keep the formula from getting stale. It’s also helped along by some strong character development and a real sense of danger. The plot isn’t complex, as the characters are the real star of the show, but it’s still fun and interesting even if it sounds very cheesy. The ending is pleasant and satisfying, it’s a short series but it didn’t need to be any longer. The plot may not be the most ambitious but it’s successful. The only thing I can see bugging people is how the plot will skip over noticeable time gaps where nothing happens. The story takes place over more months than it has volumes, so it’ll speed through slower months.
8/10, while feeling like something out of a cartoon, it’s done in a satisfying way.
CHARACTER: This is where the series really shines. Staring with Yuuhi himself. His character arc is flat out great, while he starts off as kind of a scumbag, we see him influence by the people around him. Breaking the chains of his abusive past and discovering the person he wants to be. The relationships he has with the other characters is a highlight as they impact each other. I want to bring special attention to Yuuhi’s relationship with Noi, as that was particularly nice to see develop. Samidare is another character of note. Though less connected to other characters, her connection with Yuuhi is a major part of the series. Her role as the “Lucifer” combined with her upbeat nature make her quite the engaging character, just kinda wish she had less panty shots. All of the other Beast Knights are rather well written as well, the way they influence and bounce off each other makes the cast the real push of the series as we get into each of their minds and stories, no character is left behind (even if they die before being introduced). Princess Anima was interesting but I felt like she didn’t have enough screen time to really be much. Animus the Wizard, while not the deepest of characters, was incredibly notable for his relationships with the Beast Knights as he was highly present throughout the series and constantly interacted with the main cast, being a real highlight. There’s not many notables beyond that though. Early in the series Samidare’s sister Hisame plays a heavily recurring role and was generally played a big part of the character dynamics of the time but fell into irrelevancy. Sami’s family were important to her story but weren’t much outside of that. Yuuhi’s family played a similar role but had noticeably tiny screen time. More time was spent talking about them than with them. Any other character was entirely background, though background can be interesting, just not in the case of Hiwatari who would literally just tighten the pacing of the series if removed, playing no real role.
9/10, the highlight of the series for good reason.
VISUALS: I was not a fan of the art of this manga. While not terrible it was noticeably rough, many characters breaking down anatomically anytime they weren’t the main focus of a panel. The backgrounds were pretty passable when present, but there wasn’t much if anything to really write home about with art quality. From a design aspect however, it was smartly done. The characters are all unique and stand out, most could pass a silhouette test. The golems were interesting to look at and the stuff in space was all visually interesting. The manga flows and is panelled quite well, with some cool spreads here and there, but they were more for being smartly designed than being arted well. However I don’t find the art to be problematic, I do think some of the moments could be given more punch with some better skill. Color pages also look nice.
6.5/10, smart design feels slightly hampered by weak art.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10
While not perfect, this is a very solid series. The characters are fantastically done in a story that stays interesting just as long as it needs to. The series is a lot of fun while also containing interesting ideas on connection, recovery, and what it means to be an adult. While I wouldn’t call myself a Mizukami fan just yet, his first big series turned out to be quite a good one, and one I’d definitely recommend to anyone curious.