Manga-ka: Sachi Oshimizu
Publisher: Media Blasters
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: October 2006
Synopsis: “Young Nobuhiko has been given the chance of a lifetime. He gets to design the personality of Dr. Otoi’s latest and greatest robotic creation – “Signal”. Signal is a robot that looks exactly like a human, is designed for combat, and comes ready for action. A true accomplishment – but Nobuhiko only sees this as the perfect chance to finally have a big brother. Unfortunately, Nobuhiko’s plans take a turn for the worst when he blunders in the laboratory and things are forever changed.”
Twin Signal earns its name from the split personality of the main character, Signal: a robot who, at the sound of his ‘little brother’ sneezing, changes between over-confident fighting machine to mini chocolate-obsessed ball of energy. Volume one of Media Blaster’s release is actually a double volume, combining original volumes one and two, the same method used for Japan’s re-release of Twin Signal.
The plot in Twin Signal is wild and quirky while at the same time manages to stay feeling pretty generic. The pages are littered with cute little robots, kooky scientists and evil villains who just don’t have a clue. The storyline follows a bumpy road of classic hijinks involving kidnappings, misunderstandings and random secondary character introduction. Signal himself is an amusing character though, suffering from bouts of flamboyant confidence when he hasn’t been changed to his adorable, and incredibly spacey, other self. Pulse, Signal’s brother who appears in the second half, is just as entertaining, super powerful but blinder than a bat. Throw in some doses of the other characters including the young Nobuhiko, the angry cop and the overzealous female scientist, and you do manage to get a pretty interesting cast cocktail at the very least.
The artwork in Twin Signal is definitely suiting to its 90s origin, simple, expressive and notably ‘retro’, easily compared to the comedic short works of Akira Toriyama. The anatomy isn’t always the greatest and sometimes it’s a bit difficult to tell what’s going on but the art does manage to suit the fast paced story and brings a particular life to the characters, even if it may not immediately appeal to many. The print size of the book also causes the artwork to be viewed at a fraction of its original printing size, which doesn’t make things any better.
Also because the size of the book is so small, so too is the text. This can cause some problems reading it and requires a bit more effort than your usual manga release. It’s also not a very pretty looking font. While pretty font may not seem very important, a decent font can help give a book a nice sense of quality, which unfortunately, this book lacks. The overall size of the book is suiting though, a little too big for your average pocket but pretty darn close. It’s a good 3cm (1.2inches) thick but has binding that doesn’t crack when you open it and pages can be turned easily.
Media Blasters dropped the Twin Signal manga series after only this first volume but the series lasts 19 volumes and two bonus books, so it’s a little disappointing to fans new and old that there’s no longer an official English release of the remainder of the series (which does become a bit more plot oriented over time). This proves especially true for fans that eagerly awaited this manga after watching the short OVA trilogy released by Media Blasters.
A combination of this book’s size, quick paced entertainment and energetic artwork works together with the 7+ rating to make Twin Signal a release that’ll appeal to a younger generation of manga fans. Unfortunately today it just isn’t something unique enough to stand out to general fans, having over a decade of time for more funny and interesting stories with similar plots to emerge. The characters in Twin Signal are good for laughs but may be best enjoyed through the short but sweet OVA trilogy over this sadly outdated original manga.