The world has become a desolate, lawless land where bandits roam free, innocent people suffer and demons lurk around every corner. Sona Yuki is traveling with his family when they are attacked by bandits, his entire family is murdered and he is left with a snake mark on his hand. As he is about to die, a woman comes up to him and gives him an option: continue to live in this harsh environment or die peacefully now. Yuki chooses life and Garami, the woman, gives him a second chance at life in exchange for his servitude. Garami is a weapons merchant and a gun for hire that travels from town to town for clients. Yuki sees how brutal and unforgiving this world can truly be.
Mangaka and Anime artists love to play mix-and-match with Technology and magic. Hot Springs and swimsuits find their way into every Shounen anime, because everyone loves watching female characters in convenient coincidences; Japanese culture manage to ingrain themselves right in the midst of a European Fantasy World; Ninjas live in a modern world of electricity and ninja magic skills, but apparently nobody has heard of cars or gunpowder. Usually, the result of these bastardized settings come off as ridiculous and patchy. Yet, somehow, The Arms Peddler Avoids this. Somehow, Arms Peddler weaves together magic, zombies, modern weapons, medieval warfare and a
postapocalytpic background together and still emerge as a dark, gritty, provocative, and ultimately postapocalytic story that manages to showcase everything at once and yet hold together.
Think about every improbable or ridiculous technology / magical / Fantasy crossover you`ve ever seen (Constant in Ichiban ushiro no daimaou, which managed to depict ninja ashigaru shooting machine guns in a city where the Hagia Sophia has been transplanted right next to traditional Japanese buildings; Bleach and its insistence that the whole afterlife be completely japanese and pursued in the most archaic fashion; Naruto, which actually TRIED to be racially diverse with the Cloud nation and the most awkward cultural crossover in the history of manga). Imagine melding them altogether, and somehow still having a coherent, readable, enjoyable plot. That would be the best way to describe The Arms Peddler. The Arms Peddler takes place in what could vaguely be interpreted as a postapocalyptic world, usually a good excuse to meld archaic technology with the forefront of modern weaponry. And that`s exactly what happens. The secondary protagonist, the Namesake Arms Peddler, uses a sword, but she drives a truck filled with everything from rifles, heavy machine guns, shotguns, sniper rifles, grenades and god knows what else. And the same holds true through the story. While the vast majority of people use archaic swords, spears and axes, there are knights with bulletproof shields, greek warriors with sniper rifles, and ottoman soldiers with Gatling Guns. There are Zombies and Necromancers, Magic and mythical beasts such as Guraaga and his race, the half-man and half-beast warriors. There is a heavy element of Wild West, just as there are hints to the old fashioned fantasy genre and references to DNA Manipulation. Each chapter brings a seemingly new facet to the story, moving from an old-fashioned sword and gun cowboy manga into much, much more. The story of Yuuki Souna, as expected of a seinen manga, is also quite gritty. There are moral issues: Slavery, revenge, and warfare, each of which adds to the plot. Though the plot seems ambitious in its many, far-reaching goals, so far it has managed to satisfy my expectations and then some.
The Art of The Arms Peddler is noticeably dark and gritty. Within the first few pages we have a whole family massacred, in apt (but not overdone) detail. The art style, which is closer to realistic than it is cute, fits the seinen nature of the story perfectly. While the appearance may be repugnant to younger readers, it helps characterize the grimy nature of the whole story. While I do not like talking much of art, I do say the Arms Peddler`s Art style is perfect for the story, and is not lacking in any way.
The Arms Peddler`s two protagonists, the young and somewhat idealistic Yuuki and the pragmatic Garami, fit the traditional world-weary master / Hopeful Disciple trope, but they are far from cookies out of the cookie cutter. Yuuki`s whole spiel is not part of a flashback but actually shown in detail, and though there hasnt been too much development, almost all of the characters within the manga thus far have come off as three-dimensional and well-fleshed out. The dynamic between Princess Aily of Kaladia and Yuuki seems to be developing, while under Garami`s cold exterior there seems to be some kind of deeper past that will inevitably be explored later on. I do hope the author gets to it.
=Enjoyment / Overall=
I picked up this manga expecting just another wild-west seinen Desert-Punk kind of story. Perhaps good, but not spectacular. But I was hooked, and i never quite noticed that the setting had went from expected to what someone who had never read the manga would have found ridiculous. By then, I had been totally immersed within the story. Though the manga is barely scanlated, I have great hopes in The Arms Peddler.