After the war, which lasted 70 years motivated through greed, the Song Dynasty took control and managed to unite China as one. Having made alliances with the Northern countries, there were no enemies left that could invade. With such peace in hand, the country has made much progress, but that time has worn out. With no enemies left to fulfill such greed, it was inevitable that it would befall upon the common people.
However, a revolution has begun and the world will once again see change. 108 heroes gather under the Taiten-Gyoudou flag. A group of chivalrous thieves who travel the path to change the heavens. A new take on the Suikoden epic has begun.
Akaboshi Ibun Suikoden takes on the task of turning a classic Chinese piece of literature into a shounen action adventure. A lot of potential exists here, since anime and the timeless story of the scorned underdog rising against the empire are a perfect fit. The original book goes by many names, but for this review I’ll refer to the source-material as the ‘Water Margin’.
The main feeling that I got from the final product that is this manga, is sadly something incredibly rushed, yet all too slow at the same time. Akaboshi becomes a victim of bad pacing that proves fatal. I’ll explain in more
For starters, the art is rather fitting for an action adventure, complementing the flashy action and interesting character-designs, making it a vivid feast for the eyes. I could almost swear some of the most savory images were in color, a testament to the expressive and exciting style of the artist. The way the atmosphere of ancient China is caught in the environment is also of note, as it creates a great atmosphere that pulls you into the adventure.
As a shounen story it is however very typical, meaning that you can see how it borrows a lot of tropes from other works. Imagine if you will, the Water Margin if it was written like Fairy Tail. The main character who is a fiery rebel that prefers to rush headfirst into battle rather than plan, mainly because his powers allow him to stand back up no matter what and get power-ups from nowhere. The side-kick that seems important when introduced, but ultimately turns out useless for the plot. The more serious and calculating rival that reluctantly works together with the hero. The guild of chivalrous bandits that consider each other to be family. The list goes on.
Both the characters and story suffer from one big weakness, the fact that the manga was canceled, stopping abruptly before even getting into the middle of things. This is why I claimed that Akaboshi was rushed yet slow. While you are treated to a number of fun and lighthearted adventures, very little of it actually develops the characters, leaving you feeling as though the main plot isn’t going anywhere. That is until the last few chapters, where it switches gears from meandering to warp-speed in a heartbeat, a sign that the author knew the series would be canceled and decided to throw everything at you at once. The main character’s backstory is shown, and the bandits are ready to start recruiting people for their rebellion. Both these developments were interesting, and had the author started out with these revelations instead of keeping them so tight to his chest, maybe the manga would have had a better chance at continuing.
If you have prior knowledge of the Water Margin you might recognize some plot-twists and characters that show up in the original book. Examples of such characters would be fan-favorites like the Flower Priest, the fisherman trio, Nine Tattooed Dragons, and the leader of the bandits, most of whom were portrayed in amusing ways. Sadly there just isn’t enough time to let them play a big role.
Fans of Suikoden as myself are likely to be disappointed by it, so I can only recommend it for action-junkies that are looking for nice artwork and magical adventures in ancient China.
Akaboshi-Ibun Suikoden is the latest work by Amano Yoichi, whose previous works have also been published in Weekly Shonen Jump. What is interesting to Note is that Amano has only worked on Baseball based works in Jump thus far, so it's interesting to see what he can do to spark new life into the classic Chinese Shuihuzhuan (suikoden is japanese for this).
Story: Taitengyodo (hereon called Taiten) is rumoured band of "chivalrous thieves" who are fighting to overturn the rotting Song Dynasty of China. And this tale happens to center around one member of Taiten: 'Falling Star' Taisou. Thus far, the
series is short, the story is interesting and keeps me looking forward to it every week. It also has a lot of quirky humor that is hilarious. The story has some symbolism, and also sets up a lot of foreshadowing that hasn't quite been answered. The premise is fairly Generic. When you boil it down it ends up being: "evil empire. Heroes. Heroes try to stop evil empire" But the approach is not so direct. Taisou's journey is filled with an unlikely ally and a lot of failure. As a side note the story bears a passable resemblance to the original Shuihuzhuan. But ends up being interesting enough to dismiss this.
Art: I don't know where Amano Yoichi's been hiding but, his art is fantastic. If you take one look at the opening pages of the first chapter, you'll see it. Amano doesn't have an incredibly stereotypical art type at all. He also seems to be able to draw many types of characters. The typical Shonen Hero, The cute female, The huge guy, the stalwart monk, and even a sexy mistress. It's also very hard to describe his art, so the best way to...show it is to...erm.... show it. So I'd advise you take a gander at chapter 1's first 3 pages... here I'll even help:
Characters: Here is where Amano could use a bit of work. His three leads fall pretty deep into established Archetypes. We've got guy with big sword, Elegent guy who is a foible to guy with big sword and girl who is concerned about guy wit big sword. But despite these issues involving stereotypes, Amano does manage to make his characters pretty darn quirky. As the lead, Taisou is a source of endless humor. The Taiten themselves are also pretty... Archetypical, until you get to their leader, who is just an enigma. All in all, Akaboshi's characters do nothing to detract from the experience, but fall into many archetypes. Although given time it is quite likely they will develop.
Enjoyment: If you like historical accuracy... then this will turn you off. But if you like historical stories and Chinese History, then you'll enjoy this. The Art really adds to the experience, and the story meshes well, but the characters are a weak point for now... I'd advise you try Akaboshi. I mean, you've got nothing to lose... right?
There are times when things need change, but there are few people who have courage to make the change.
Akaboshi - Ibun Suikoden is a story set in ancient China, when the country is united the government gets corrupt and the conditions of live of the population are terrible.
In this ambient, a group of "chivalrous thieves" the Taitengyoudou emerges. The story itself is not really original, but is good nonetheless.
The characters are charming and have much room for development, the main character is, dumb, strong and with a thing he must do, not to diferent of many shounen protagonists. And Suiren is the adorable useless observer
that we all hope she will get strong.
The art is great, with good atention to the detail. The action is also good if this is what you want.
Akaboshi - Ibun Suikoden, is a good manga so far with a lot of potential, if you have time then you may as well take a look.