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Replica, Vol. 1

by Kemuri Karakara
DMP, 184 pp.
Rating: YA (16 +)

Replica a recent offering from DMP is an odd, sci-fi-ish tale of a viscous bodyguard known as, Manji, aka The Red Dog. While looking for work one day Manji happens to cross paths with the mysterious Kal and finds himself sucked into the battle between Kal and his allies, as Cards and the mysterious AAA.

The story wastes little time in throwing readers head first into the action. We’re quickly introduced to Manji and informed about his reputation as a lethal and deadly bodyguard. Hot on the heels of these revelations comes the introduction and Kal and the dangerous, destructive beings known as Toys. From there the tale jumps between action scenes and info dumps quite quickly, barely giving readers a chance to catch their breath, with the exception of a small bit midway through the volume. This is both good and bad as it makes it a quick, light read, but at the same time there’s little to no time given to setting up the world in which the story takes place. While it’s true we’re told quite a bit about the Cards and AAA, we’re given very little information on the world the tale inhabits. The result is that the story takes on a weird, free floating feel where the Cards and Manji move from helpless, heavily populated town to helpless, heavily populated town as the only defense against the Toys. On top of that the information we’re given regarding the two groups tends to come through exposition from Kal aimed at Manji. I felt this undercut Manji’s reputation as a deadly and experienced bodyguard and he instead he ends up coming off as a bit clueless, naive and headstrong, kind of like your generic shonen protagonist actually.

The artwork isn’t horrible but it honestly didn’t blow me away either. It’s solid and the character designs are slick and appealing. The fight scenes are ok and are clear and easy to follow, there is a fairly nice sense of movement, particularly with Manji’s sword swings. The Toy designs vary in complexity and style, but most seem like little more than living balloons that fly about and blow things up. Even the more dangerous Toys lacked a sense of menace and felt more like evil parade floats.

I’m not really sure what to make of Replica. It looks slick and polished but read a bit awkwardly and feels like it’s trying to be incredibly creative and imaginative but ends up feeling a bit contrived, generic and bland. The weird Alice in Wonderland riffs and the silly appearances of the antagonists left me a bit flat, as did what little we saw of the Cards themselves. It’s just a tad too bland for me right now, but it is only the first volume so there’s plenty of room for improvement as the series continues.

Replica, Vol. 1 will be available on March 15 from DMP. Digital review copy provided by the publisher.

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