The Bottom Line
Two boys both named Arata cross dimensions to change lives with each other. Modern teen Arata Hinohara finds himself in a fantasy world where the gods and humans co-exist; a world where he's called to fulfill a heroic destiny.
Fans of Yuu Watase's shojo manga fantasy-romance epics will find many familiar themes and characters in Arata: The Legend. Meanwhile, shonen manga fans will enjoy this satisfying, if somewhat predictable mix of fantasy, comedy and action. An interesting comics cross-over that can only get better once Watase really hits her stride in shonen manga land.
- Solid, straightforward storytelling that quickly and clearly sets up the characters and plot premise
- Dynamic, shonen manga style artwork that only hints at Watase's shojo manga roots
- Watase's flair for humor adds some laugh-out-loud moments to this otherwise serious story
- Offers a grim look at quickly and how thoroughly bullying can make a teen's life miserable
- Plays to Watase's strengths, as she revamps familiar characters and themes from her past works
- Somewhat formulaic fantasy story relies on established, predictable plot tropes
- Overly-expository dialogue that clumsily tries to foreshadow events to come
- Female sidekick Kotoha is loyal, cute and kinda boring
- The fantasy-world Arata doesn't get a whole lot of character development in this volume
- Original Title: Arata Kangatari (Japan)
- Author & Artist: Yuu Watase
- ISBN: 978-1421534206
- Cover Price: $10.99 US / $13.99 CANADA
- Age Rating:
T – Teens Age 13+
for bullying, violence
More about content ratings.
- Manga Genres:
- Shonen (Boys') Manga
- Action / Adventure
- US Publication Date: March 2010
Japan Publication Date: January 2009
- Book Description: 208 pages, black and white illustrations
- More Manga by Yuu Watase:
Guide Review - Arata The Legend Volume 1
Two boys, both named Arata change places across dimensions and inherit each other's problems. The first Arata is a teen who lives in a fantasy world ruled by a princess-priestess and her 12 protectors who wield swords with god-like powers. The other Arata is a modern high school boy who is bullied by a cruel classmate.
When Arata is the only witness to an assassination attempt on the princess by one of her guardians, he's framed for attempted murder. As he flees from the scene, he's chased into a magical forest where he's transported to another world: the world where Arata Hinohara lives. Meanwhile, the modern-day Arata is transported to the other Arata's fantasy world.
Both Aratas are mystified when they're mistaken for their counterpart, despite the obvious differences in their clothing, hair styles and personalities. In the case of the fantasy Arata in the modern world, the culture clash is pretty hilarious as he's picked up for 'indecent exposure' after showing up shirtless in the middle of the city. In the case of the modern-day Arata, he's thrown in the middle of a serious mess, as he's accused of attacking Princess Kikuri and leaving her near death.
If you're familiar with Yuu Watase's work, you know that her specialty is shojo manga –but this switch to shonen manga isn't as much of a stretch as one might think. Watase's other series, most notably Fushigi Yugi, have always included more action, fantasy and adventure than the usual 'comics for girls.'
Watase has written extensively about her philosophy of graphic storytelling and you can definitely see her pulling her favorite personality archetypes and plot devices out of her bag of tricks here. Fans will recognize several familiar Watase characters in Arata: the wise wise-crackin' granny. The rough and ready young warrior. The reluctant and imperfect hero. The cruel and ruthless evil-doer.
The plot should also feel familiar: a modern teen gets thrown into a fantasy world where he/she is called upon to accomplish heroic deeds. All that and Watase's knack for mixing in just the right amount of slapstick humor to offset the emotionally heavy or violent scenes? It's all here. It's like a remix of her greatest hits, just minus the romance and the female protagonist.
However, Watase's transition from shojo to shonen-style storytelling isn't without its hiccups. There are several moments where the characters awkwardly spout off overly-expository dialogue to foreshadow events to come. And the plot? It's fairly formulaic fantasy fare that's just a bit too predictable to offer fans something truly fresh and new.
But even with these shortcomings, I have to admit that Arata: The Legend has got me hooked. I'm eagerly reading each new chapter as they appear on ShonenSunday.com, and I'll definitely pick up Volume 2. All in all, it's an enjoyable adventure story, but I'm hoping that Watase will go beyond her comics comfort zone to make Arata more interesting than just "decent shonen manga."