Manga-ka: Chiaki Ogishima
Rating: Teen (13+)
Released: July 2005
Synopsis: “Daisuke Aurora works with the special division of peace-keepers in the city of Jewde, one of the largest cities on the planet. He and his android partner, Heat Guy J, team up to make sure that anything illegal stays off the streets and out of circulation. However, their presence doesn’t sit too well with the local mob leader – the ruthless and unbalanced son of the late Don, who is out to prove that he is not too young to take over the family business.”
Heat Guy J, based off the anime of the same name (released in English by Pioneer with an amazing dub, btw), follows Daisuke Aurora, one of only two human members of Jewde’s Special Division of Peace-keepers. Along with his android partner, (Heat Guy) J, it’s Daisuke’s job to investigate illegal activity in the super city and stop it before it escalates to committed crime. With a limited budget and a new young mob leader with an insane streak to deal with, their job isn’t easy but Daisuke and J step up to the challenge each and every time.
The stories in the manga version of Heat Guy J are taken directly from the anime series that this one-shot manga spawned from. Their fairly episodic with Daisuke investigating the seedy underground of Jewde city to find the dark and dirty before it gets out of hand. Fit, brave and good with a gun, Daisuke Aurora can hold his own in a fight, but when things get too tough, J always arrives to save his partner. It’s the contrast between the two that gives the story it’s spark.
J is a unique android, large and powerful but with a thoughtful mind and compassion. He often makes statements to Daisuke about ‘being a man’, laying out his chivalrous-like beliefs of honour and strength that should be possessed by a true man. Daisuke on the other hand is laidback, his aloof attitude often hiding how strongly he feels about the work he does. While many of the larger plot points of the series don’t come close to being addressed in this book, there’s still enough to piq the interest of those witnessing the series for the first time.
The art style suits the source material pretty well, maintaining many of the same stylized characteristics without being a carbon copy. At times the artwork felt a little inconsistent and it seemed like the art fell through when the artist tried too hard, such as moments of emphasis. The action scenes throughout the book were really nicely rendered and the whole book had a good sense of pacing panel to panel.
The staff at Tokyopop did a nice job with the writing here with smooth reading translation. The way they wrote for J suited his original speech style and the Heat Guy J dub-lover in me could hear J speaking the lines in my head perfectly. One of my favourite parts of the book is the wealth of bonus material at the end of the book. It includes character designs, episode guides and information about the anime that are a great asset to fans.
Heat Guy J is one of my favourite anime series and I was disappointed, but not really surprised, that I didn’t find the manga nearly as entertaining. While some of the same charm was there, I found the characters (Daisuke in particular) weren’t as accurately portrayed as they could’ve been and the artwork irked me a little at times. That said though, any fans of the series would still benefit from buying the manga, as it’s a simple to collect one-shot and contains some really neat bonus content from the anime. For those who aren’t familiar with the anime, the manga may not have enough substance to sustain it as a standalone but is still worth a look as a unique action-story with androids and attitude.