Ginta Toramizu is a 14-year-old kid who doesn't have a lot going for him: he's near-sighted, doesn't do well in school, sucks at sports, and to top it off—he's short! But Ginta is a dreamer and has had the same dream 102 times, always in the same fantasy world, where he is a hero blessed with all the abilities he lacks in real life.
One day, a supernatural figure appears at Ginta's school and summons him to a mysterious and exciting new world! In this strange universe filled with magic and wonder, he is strong, tough, agile—and he can see without his glasses! Thus, Ginta begins a mystical quest in search of the magical items known as "ÄRMS," one of which may have the power to send him home. Joining him on this epic journey are his companion Jack and the valuable living, talking, mustachioed iron-ball weapon known as "Babbo," which everyone wants but, it seems, only Ginta can possess!
From the author of Flame of Recca, Noyubuki Anzai brings us at tale of parallel worlds, and a hero destined to travel between them. You know the drill. I would pretty much agree with what the others have said; a good read, but in the end, nothing truly special to set it apart.
The story was probably the weakest point of the series; While it wasn't bad, in any way; an acceptable concept, fairly good plot development, and satisfying ending, I can't really find any specific complaints to log against it, except the fact... it just didn't go the extra mile. It was a story, but
not much else. It's two scoops of vanilla ice cream, when it could have been an XL Super-Decker Double-Fudge Heartstopper Supreme. The tale won't disappoint, as long as you don't expect too much.
The artwork is where this manga does get my credit, though. Obviously, any form of art is completely up to opinion, but I think anyone can agree Anzai-sensei's work is solid and even impressive in some parts; being a manga pretty much based around battles, it holds together well in showing the action, suspense, and awesome moments.
The characters are pretty much what you've seen before; the bold and daring hero, his love interest, his sidekick who's goofy or perverted for when the need arises, the mature flirt of the woman, the pretty playboy, the badass, etc. However, their designs are just enough so you can tell them apart from any other shounen stereotype. The author also does well in the designs of the multitude of minor characters; though most not memorable, they certainly stand out, and you might even find yourself fondly attached to a few (but don't expect the majority to live long...)
These elements mix together in a satisfying way that makes this manga a good read; since it's light on storyline, you can pretty much pick up any volume and immerse yourself; almost every chapter is titled "_____ vs. ______ part___". Of course, all the powers and fights are engaging to see, so as long as you come for the bloodshed (and believe me, there will be blood...), you'll get the most out of this manga.
So. Overall, a seven out of ten. Nothing that makes me go "Oh-my-jeezus you gotta read this!" to people, but enough to make me invest in all 15 volumes of the series. If you were looking for a fantasy masterpiece, keep moving, because this won't sate your palate. But if you're bored of your battle-filled shonen like Naruto, Bleach, or Reborn, pick this one up...
...oh, and does anyone else wonder about the striking similarity between the Gatekeeper Clown in this series, and a certain other character from Final Fantasy 8? No?...
The story is set mainly in a world other than our own. Ginta, the main character, is a dreamy, less-than-average, Japanese schoolboy who is summoned into the world of his dreams, to fight an evil organisation and save a princess.
The storyline is rather typical. The main character is called to be a hero and must save the world from evil. What is unique, however, is the fighting style. In the world of MAR Heaven, people fight using ARMS: jewelery that can be transformed into swords, spears, or even guardian monsters. 75% of the manga is staged within a tournament between the evil organisation, the "Chess
no Koma", and Ginta's resistance troupe. Ginta and his friends have to battle one-on-one with their enemies to advance in a "war game" and gain a chance to fight and defeat the "king" and "queen" of the Chess. This, rather than the story, is the lure of this manga.
If you like elaborate and exciting fight scenes, I highly recommend this manga for you.
A 10 if you're looking for a case study of shonen, a 4 if you're expecting a high quality battle manga.
What separates MAR above other battle manga is that it cuts through the heart of what shonen is.
There's no filler here folks but neither are you going to get the type of 'faux' unique quality often praised from series like Naruto.
You'll definitely spot the hot blooded hero, the traditional cliches and at first MAR looks like your generic battle manga only if you read through the entire series excluding MAR Omega the sequel you're guaranteed to see a sort of elements of "battle manga
compendium lite" that makes the artist seem more like he was making a subtle serious satire of the genre rather than striving for mediocrity.
It's all hard to explain but suffice to say what MAR does best is that it is able to contain all the stuff you love and expect from battle mangas but it slices it so thin that instead of getting a quality manga with no filler - you get even less of that while having the whole package intact. There's really nothing quite like it that I've seen. It's like a master musician stopping at the exact point of the crescendo to the point that it feels flawed but you get that he could easily have continued just one sound further and it would have been great.
This holds true for all the plot elements but it stretches further towards the art which is what makes this manga seem poor. You'll see stuff that on hand you'll think cliche or generic and yet when you really think about it, it's original but it's explored at the surface. One of the best scenes to notice this is in a fight with a pinocchio like character later in the series. It's a minor battle but if you pay in particular to how that character speaks and how he attacks and then you re-read that scenes and ignore the elements of the character - you could swear the artist could have easily add one extra sentence, back story or prolonged battle stance and that fight would be more memorable than it should. I'm talking literally "in-your-face" details here even if you're not an artist, a critic or an otaku.
That is the secret of MAR but alas it's not an "official" statement - plus you're probably looking for mangas to be entertained or actual tutorials and official announced satire to be thought provoked and in that element, MAR doesn't fair as well especially with more hardcore audiences who think believe they know the cliches and non-cliches of shonen or believe they can just get that info from TV Tropes or other wiki sites.
Also one thing to keep in mind when considering MAR, it does this so well because it lifts up the rules without breaking them. Example the titular chain ball character is both a follower of the cliche generic battle manga design which seems like it's trying to follow the rule of cool but breaks it horribly but even as the backstory is rushed up until MAR Omega - the thing is able to grow on you while again constantly breaking the rules that should appeal to your taste.
Without spoiling anything, let's just say by the end of the manga, the upgrades to the weapon would all fit the rule of cool quality and would probably make this manga more recognized had the artist designed the sidekick those ways originally but in a masterful stroke, if you reach that far, you'll be more empathic towards the original lame design. An effect that may on the surface seem obvious in that it's clear which design gets the most appearance and is branded into our memory but still as an ingredient of a recipe this is how this manga is able to "tell by showing" the heart of what a true generic shonen manga is and thus in my opinion it is more a valuable tool for the beginner artist/storyteller than everyone else and can't be removed from a high rating in every other criteria except the overall.
Although this story may lack exceptional story plot, I would still consider this manga to be a good read.
Ginta, our main character, is very funny at times and I can relate him to Frodo, from Lord of the Rings. In some characteristics, of course not all of them, I think other readers would agree with me on this. ^_^
One of the characters, Jack, once annoyed me, but after I awhile I accepted and then really enjoyed his part in the story, and that kind of attitude in a story is what I really look for.
Also, the Evil side of this world, the Chess
No Koma, is a wonderful, fresh form of evil!! Haha, they truly are, with their very interesting characters, their motives for their actions, and their reasoning. Take Ash, Girom, and Phantom as examples. :)
I think that most of the characters in this story are well developed and very funny, so with that, I'm giving this a 9. (although I wanted a 8.5, that would be ridiculous)
As a side note, I don't really judge too harshly on art, since I can't draw crap! So for this manga, I think the art was pretty nice, and at times paritally strange, off, or annoying.
P.S. I hope you thought this review was okay, (sorry if you didn't!) because it is my first!