Every 30 years, a new princess is chosen from the Hime family to serve the Hayagami. The time has come again, but over these past years, records state not a single female has been born, save for one, the 15-year-old Arata. The only problem is, Arata is actually a male! Forced to disguise himself and take the place of the princess candidate until a formal one can be found, he attends the festival only to witness the current princess, Kokuri-hime, murdered, and his own life is forfeit as well, by the hands of the princess' personal guard, the 12 Shinshou. As he runs for his life, Kannagi of the 12 convinces everyone that Arata is the one who has murdered the princess instead, and now everyone in the Imperial Court is after his head!
Arata Kangatari has been published in English as Arata: The Legend by VIZ Media under the Shonen Sunday imprint since March 9, 2010.
In 2014, mangaka Yuu Watase blogged that she was subject to editorial harassment while working on Arata Kangatari. She explained that her former editor would bulldoze her ideas to make room for his own and would constantly ask her to redraw scenes, which lead to immense stress and exhaustion.
What are you looking for in a story? If your looking for action (shounen style), an adventerous tale, and some drama with a little romance then you've got Arata Kangatari.
The Story: The concept itself is rather interesting: Two boys of the same name 'Arata' (but different surnames, and differing personalities) accidently switch worlds, but the people of their world see them as 'them' even though their looks actually differ. What makes it even more interesting is that the communication from one world to the other isn't entirely cut off. Thus forcing the author to strike a balance between the characters and occurances in both worlds,
and giving the story multilayers.
The tale starts in the fantasy world where the reader isn't certain about whos who and what's what with little time to get used to the characters when it intermingles suddenly with the 'real world' - now if it's a little confusing, or off-putting, give it a couple of chapters- it gets much better. Each 'Arata' is faced with their own challenges in the 'other world' as might be expected, but things get even more crazy when another person from the fantasy world switches places- on purpose! The action in the story follows a shounen style so to speak- meaning you get the calling out of names/techniques, the 'power-ups' and big bad enemies/bosses. The plot may seem simple enough- real world 'Arata' needs to save fantasy world's princess- but becomes a bit more complex as the story continues, and with the introduction of new characters the plots in both worlds thicken.
The Art: Anyone who knows Yuu Watase's works knows her art. Perosonally I enjoy her art style, so I suppose the 'art' side could be considered a little biased. It is clean and detailed, though from time to time during the fight/power' scenes it can be a little hard to tell what's going.
Characters: Both worlds contain characters with various personalities and motivations, and most importantly, depth. The interactions between characters are sometimes comical, sometimes serious, but always interesting. In general, real world 'Arata' is serious and introspective with a sense of justice, while otherworld 'Arata' is rather wild, boisterous and carefree. With the variety of characters that surround the 'Arata's there's bound to be one the reader sympathizes with if not one of the 'Arata's. Another nice thing about the characters is they slowly begin to grow, even the side characters. Also, the characters 'switch sides' so to speak. Not everyone who starts off as friends/enimeis remains so. But don't get too attached- one interesting aspect is the reader really doesn't know the fates of the characters. Watase isn't afraid to kill some of them off, so you if you're expecting light and fluffy 'everyone lives, yeah!' don't. There's character insights and drama enough nicely woven into the action and plot.
Arata Kangatari is an adventure story that sometimes seems to move slow, sometimes fast. New characters are often getting introduced and with their variablities begs the questions: are they allies, are they enemies and will they stay that way? The plot may seem a bit predictable at times (aka 'must beat next enemy'), but it's always fun to go along with the story and figure out how the character is going to get past the next obsticle. The story (as of this review) is unfinished so who knows where the plot will twist to next.
I don't know what it is about Yu Watase's work, as formulaic and sometimes tedious as her stories tend to be, and as annoying as some of her female protagonists are. I somehow keep coming back for more.
I think it has to be the characters of her works. ARATA is a little different than Watase's usual fare, have a male as the main character and being a shonen rather than a shoujo, however, a lot of the same elements are there as you go through this layered quest story.
Two boys from two different worlds, both named Arata, switch worlds and are both thrust into
dangerous adventure. In a the fantasy realm, Arata is framed for the murder of the Imperial Princess, by her 12 guardians and as he is on the run, he hides in the mysterious Kando Forest. In Japan, Arata Hinohara is have the worst time in school and just wishes he could disappear. Well, you can see where this is going...
The two boys switch places and a race to defeat the 12 guardians known as the "Shinsho" begins, especially as war begins to break out between the guardians as to who will be the Princess' successor as Emperor.
As I said before, Watase knows how to make amazing characters with amazing backstories. Each one is unique and each one is great. Evil characters are twistedly evil and good characters and honorable to a fault. The emotions she's able to weave into this are amazing. Three of the Shinsho arcs drove me to streaming tears so far, and I'm not even done yet.
The romance in this story is half-backed and I think is only in here because Yuu doesn't know what else to do. But the interactions between Arata and the people he meets, including the Shos, Shinshos, and Zakusho's are really good.
Now, all that said, the series is still formulaic quest material. Both Aratas are a little bland. The main girl is a ditz. And the challenges for the MC don't last very long. You would think not "every" problem can be talked out or end as easily as "You're lonely, why don't you be yourself?", but there you do. Arata's main rival is also a bit boring and one note, but there you go.
All in all, this series is very good, and I enjoy reading it so far.
This series has been a really strange discoverment. I´m not going to tell you what actually happens, because that will be spoiler and goes against my policy.
In the beginnig, what atracted me was the plot, that seems to be able to appear in any other place, but that as it starts to move gets deepper and focused. It wisely involves various concepts used in other mangas and makes them blend in a rather amazing way, that lets you with that feeling of wanting to read more. The arcs are subsequents and don´t have any wastes, and in most of the chapters you´re able
to enjoy a hilarious parts that gives you that shounen-manga-aura, and that allows to relax the development.
Even when the main characters don´t belong to the worlds they have been replaced of (a kind of edo-era-japan and a modern one) they get the resolve to do their best to protect what the other holds precious, while they have the opportunity to know new faces and to grow phisically and emotionally.
The relationship betwen the characters, involved by the casualties of changing places in parallels worlds, where everyone knows them and at the same time doesn´t, and the ability they have to communicate from time to time, makes you able to see side-storys, may it be from the same world or from different ones, giving it -and us- the chance of a ¨change of airs¨ from time to time.
This story it´s pretty brand-new if you compared it with other shounen mangas, but has won it´s place when it comes to plot and development. So, don´t hesitate twice when it comes to read it.
For my first review, I choose one of my favorite mangas: Arata Kangatari, or Arata the Legend.
This manga was a surprise. I really didn't expected too much, maybe because it's a little... Unknown. And I discover it by a friend, so, yeah, that was lucky.
The story is basically about a boy, Arata Hinohara, that goes to another world, changing place with another Arata. That sounds like a cliche, right? But Yuu Watase transform the story that "we all alright know" into something really good and enjoyable - thing that I miss in a lot of mangas today. Well, at last this is what I
think. I love so much how the story goes, and gets better in every chapter.
The characters are great, but there are some boring ones. Their relationship grows with the time, and it's something nice to see. And, even not having so many attention, Kugura was my favorite, and my bae haha.
The art is good, obvious, and it's impossible not remember Fushigi Yugi.
Yuu Watase create an amazing world, who deserves more attention. I'm saying this because in my country the manga was cancelled in the volume 11, and I will need to import the rest *cries*