Abara is set in a dystopian world, filled with large structures. The story revolves around creatures known as Gaunas, those who can shape bone like armor and weaponry around themselves by transforming. The transformation begins around the spine and then shapes layered armor. The story focuses on one such Gauna known as Kudou Denji, though he uses Itou Denji as a fake name earlier.
Volume 2: Digimortal (two parts)
Abara has been licensed in English by VIZ Media who plans to release the series in a complete deluxe edition. It was published in Italian by Panini Comics under the Planet Manga imprint from July 5 to August 2, 2007 and was rereleased in a single omnibus on February 8, 2014, in Polish by Japonica Polonica Fantastica on October 2014 as part of "Mega Manga" series, and in Brazilian Portuguese by Panini Comics from May to July 2009.
Set in the same universe as all Tsutomu Nihei's manga are: the nondescript urban landscape of our nightmares. The architecture is as suffocatingly bleak as usual; the story is faster paced than Nihei's most well known work, Blame, due to this manga's short length. Maybe it would be a good litmus test for newcomers to his world.
This time the Akira vibe is heavy, with body horror at the forefront. Expect human transformation and ugly metamorphosis aplenty. Though unlike Akira, I doubt Nihei's aspirations are as lofty as commenting on Japan's relationship with technology in the post Meiji-era. No, he just wants
to immerse you in something completely alien, and burn his surreal Kafka-esque inspired imagery into your brain, while thankfully kicking your ass at the same time.
What we have here are a guy in black and a girl in white who are compelled to beat the shit out of each other while destroying everything around them. The beauty as ever, is about revelling in the graphic detail of Nihei's universe, not necessarily what's driving the story. How were these sprawling structures built in the first place? Something I've been asking myself ever since reading Blame. It always takes my breath away. Tsutomu Nihei's scene composition is masterful, regularly showing the scope and perspective of structures that are inhuman in their massive presence.
Nihei is a master in 'show don’t tell'. You won’t see long monologues or rambling dialogue. You won’t see narrative clichés rampant in mainstream manga, in his works. Nihei lets the images do the talking, what you see is what you get, and luckily for us there's a lot to see here. Painstakingly detailed environments reveal a lot and nothing at the same time. Ironically sound is more of a narrative force than dialogue from characters. Sounds such as doors sliding open, objects falling down stairs, all combine to lead you along the way.
Characters only talk when they need to, and usually mumble meaningless words that only become coherent if we use our imaginations too. Characters that look like they'll be mainstays are introduced briefly, but then are promptly decapitated.
Oh what decapitations! You will not see any as swift and graceful, as humorously mundane as the ones in this manga. The action is striking, occasionally a mess of clouds and lines, but often crowd-pleasing with clarity, and all building to a shattering climax that even Nihei has to introduce with dialogue.
Abara is a great sci-fi actioner. A little diversion from a master of the craft.
Before I begin I will say that I don't know if there was a movie or something that this is based on. If there is I would gladly watch it and consider changing the score here.
*sigh* so lets' begin:
It had potential. I like reading apocalyptic stories, but I can't help but think this wasn't done well. It reminds me of some other apocalyptic series', only more cliche and watered down. It's almost like the artist wasn't allowed to draw any more than two volumes worth of material, and everything was forced into the series; that adds to the confusion. For the longest time I
had no idea what was going on and I had to read many sections over a few times.
Art and character: 2 and 3 respectively.
I'm putting these two together because they both make little sense. The mangaka knows how to draw, and I can see that, but the extra lines almost hides the story behind them. There were times when I had no idea what was going on because the weird lines were everywhere. The characters were good, but what they looked like confused me to no end. A good many of the "normal looking" characters looked identical to each other. On the other hand, the "bad looking" characters were all had disfigured faces and wrinkles where there shouldn't be. If you want to read something where the "good guys" and the "Bad guys" can easily be identified by how awful they look, then this is the series for you; that is if you can find the minute details that make each "normal" character unique(I've yet to find them).
There were way too many ideas crammed in the series to make it enjoyable. That, and the weird art ruined the series. There were many times when I just wanted to leave the manga alone, but I kept thinking that it will make sense at the end. Unfortunately I was let down.
There's nothing to see here. Everything about this series could have been done much better with the exception of the story. This is probably one of the first times I've read a manga where the story couldn't possibly help it.
Please don't flame me or anything. Like I said in the beginning: if this was based off of a movie I would like to see it. If this manga actually did the movie justice then I will honestly change this review to reflect it.
You have to be a true blue fan to enjoy Abara. This manga is not recommended for people who cannot appreciate an intellectual manga where much thinking is involved, for Tsutomu Mihei's style is to let the pictures tell the story rather than the dialogues.
This story like most of Tsutomu Mihei's work (Creator of Blame!), consists of few dialogues. His work is fabulously beautiful, the intricate style of drawing and minute details never ceases to amaze me.
Abara's plot is fairly simplistic, the man saves the world typical plot. With the short 2 volumes, Tsutomu Mihei weaves its subplots into
its simplistic plot adding flavour to it. While his plot is interesting and his art work is fabulously, he lacks character development. The characters are simple and what you see is what you get.
You'll probably get a different opinion on everything, every time you re-read this too.
Because of how little reviews there are of this manga, I have read all of them and noticed that everyone was talking about how the author uses pictures instead of words. I can agree with two things; the art is amazing, and the author uses little dialogue. But that's it. Many people say that you would understand the story more if you took a closer look and analysed the artwork, but that is simply false. The art is amazingly detailed, but few of them actually portray something important to understanding the story. Now, with that sorted, I will begin my review.
Story - 6/10
The story was
quite decent, and it would probably be even higher if it was clear enough to understand. After analysing the artwork, I could finish the story with barely any extra understanding of the story. And the only part that I completely understood and enjoyed was the ending, and the ending was a masterpiece; To the eye and to the brain. I will not speak of the story since I want to keep this spoiler free.
Art - 10/10
The art in here is amazing, though the characters may put many people off. This is due to their eyes being too far apart, otherwise it would look amazing. But that it just part of the author's style and personality, and I respect that. When I say amazing, I absolutely mean it. Not only is it detailed on every aspect, but it actually communicates emotions with me. However, there is one thing I don't like very much about the artwork... The battle scenes. Most of the battle scenes confuse me, because the author skips quite a lot of actions in them. The sketchy drawing style also doesn't help point out what the author really wants you to see. I also don't like the style of the sound effects, it is a bit plain, but I guess that is also part of his style.
Character - 3/10
The characters are low for a reason... They had little to no introduction or insight. We couldn't really tell what they were feeling and what their personalities were... I felt that most of them were emotionless. Except for one, which I'm sure you all know if you have finished the manga. I feel like the author could have put a lot more depth into his characters to make them loveable, or at least unique.
Enjoyment - 2/10
The entire manga wasn't very fun or addictive to read. Probably because the author didn't mean for it to be. I like to read more fast paced manga, and this one was fast paced... Just not in the right way. The story accelerates quite fast, but you would have to read slowly due to the intricate artwork. This feeling contradicts itself and I just felt like rushing the manga the whole time. To be honest with you, I had to force myself through the manga.
Overall - 5/10
I gave it a 5 for an overall score, I was originally going to give it a 6 or a 7 while I was reading it. However, the part I was reading was probably the only part I found interesting, and the rest had disappointed me. With that said, I think this manga had quite a lot of potential. The manga-ka had just focused on some of the wrong elements to try and bring it alive.