Manga-ka: Shiro Amano
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: May 2008
“Stunned by the cryptic words spoken by Namine, Roxas desperately tries to uncover the true connection to his dream-self, Sora. For her part, Namine wants to help Roxas in his quest, but she’ll have to act quickly before DiZ succeeds in his plan to “dispose” of her. And then there is the question of Axel – and just who side he is really on…”
The story continues to follow Roxas, the progressively more confused young boy who comes to realize that his entire life as he remembers it is a lie. With everything unravelling around him, the threat of Roxas being lost forever in light of Sora’s return, leaves him rightfully unsettled. The lead cast of the game returns here in volume two and the story is ready to take off.
Kingdom Hearts II is a manga that’s made for fans of the game and those who haven’t played it may not find it nearly as engaging. For the fans however, the manga makes for a pretty good read. It’s really nice to have the story in a medium that allows for readers to pause, think things over or go back if they don’t understand something, especially with a game so focused on numerous characters and abstract, though uniquely explanatory, notions. That said, I’m a big fan of the games and I always enjoy getting a new volume of the manga adaptations, with a few notable concerns…
The artwork is probably the most disappointing aspect of the series. Shiro Amano was responsible for the art in the prequel series as well and the art seemed much more focused then. While the style itself suits the material and cast, both SquareEnix and Disney, the artwork looks like it lacks effort on the artist’s part. It’s conflicting seeing panels that use creative perspective and detailed designs, ruined by a shoddily drawn arm, uneven line work or a lopsided face. It depressed me because I really enjoyed the art in the Kingdom Hearts manga, especially the chapter page illustrations. A lot of the artwork here does really show a lot of skill in the manga artists’ defence, it’s just uneven use of this skill that makes it hard to enjoy.
There isn’t much to say on Tokyopop’s behalf with nothing really worth noting, good or bad. I do find it odd though that I couldn’t find any mention of this book being based off a video game, except for tiny mention of a video game on the credits page. I do find it hard to believe that there’s anyone who hasn’t at least heard of the series before, but pointing out that it’s a video game adaptation would do well to justify the pacing and information choices to new readers.
Overall, those curious about this magical world should go check out the video game series and come back to the manga after they have. The manga is recommended to those who enjoyed the video games for its easy-to-follow and graphically rendered telling of the story, plus some bonus funny stuff tossed in there to make it even more entertaining.