Set in the fictional city of Newport, Japan, in a future in which bacterial air pollution has become so severe that people must wear gas masks when outdoors, the series follows a police squadron that uses tanks.
Because MAL does not have a separate page for both of the Dominion manga (which are vastly different, by the way), I'm going to attempt to write this review to suit both of them.
The original Dominion has got to be the lightest read I've ever bought, Shirow-wise anyway. It was funny, had decent artwork, and had more tanks than you could shake a pistol at. Released in 1986, this is his third work, and one of the easiest ways to get someone at least interested in Shirow. There's no huge glossary you have to memorize, no notes to take or side stories to follow.
It's just a straight cop and robber case, and all the wackiness that ensues in between. Some of the characters seem to pop up in other manga of his too, Crolis and Buaku to be precise. The art isn't his best, I'll admit, but it's still decent.
Now No More Noise, which was released in 97 on our shores, is much better. While it doesn't include some of the characters from the original, mainly Al, it does bring a whole new squad and a few unexpected members to the team. The art is vastly improved, since by that time he had gained much more experience, and some of the color sections (there aren't near as many as I'd like), are very pleasing to the eye. The story focuses on yet another crazy criminal, but this outing has a lot more going on. The quirky characters in Leona's squad provide a few laughs and keep the ball rolling, not that it ever really slows down. It's more action packed and easily dominates over the original in almost every aspect of its creation.
I found "Dominion" to be an interesting, yet mixed bag.
The story starts out rather slow over the first couple of pages and is filled with a bit of cheesy dialogue and interactions between the characters. Combined with the sketchy, oldschool artstyle, I was afraid that this would be a rather generic, outdated police vs. gangsters tale.
However, the manga gains a surprising amount of depth as soon as the main plot sets in and Shirow actually does a really good job in developing the major themes (environmental crisis, human survival) and the characters to a satisfying extent within a relatively short time. Given that the
manga is only 6 chapters in total, that seemed like quite an achievement.
So, is it worth reading? As an isolated piece of art, I'd say you can take it or leave it. However, "Dominion" is worth reading, because of the potential of its themes and its nostalgic value, given that the manga clearly shows story and character elements that would later re-emerge in Shirow's masterpiece "Ghost in the Shell". So, in a sense, reading "Dominion" felt a bit like reading a very early, still rather comical sketch for GITS.