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Brave 10, Vols. 2 + 3

Welcome to another midweek manga review! This week I’ll be taking a look at Brave 10, Vols. 2 + 3. It’s been a bit of a slow news week, but there were still a few items that caught my eye.

And now, onto this week’s review of Brave 10, Vols. 2 +3!

Brave 10, Vol. 2Brave 10, Vols. 2 + 3
by Kairi Shimotsuki
DMP/Emanga.com, 192 pp
Rating: Young Adults (16 +)

Historical fiction is a genre that manga and anime seems to excel at. Of course, they tend to be pretty liberal with the fiction aspect, and Kairi Shimotsuki’s Brave 10 is no exception to this. Loosely based upon historical events and a group that may or may not have existed, the series follows the ninja Saizo Kirigakure, as he gets caught up with Isanami, a temple maiden who’s the sole survivor of a Tokugawa ninja attack upon her temple. Together the two find themselves caught up in the tumultuous events of the era. After the events of the volume one, the two find themselves aligned with the warlord, Yukimura Sanada, as he attempts to uncover the reasons behind the attack on Isanami’s temple and the secret behind the strange power she seems to wield.

Fans of Sengoku Basara or the Samurai Warriors franchises will recognize a lot of faces in this series. These two volumes further the mysteries surrounding Isanami’s abilities and the attack on her temple, while at the same introducing us to another warlord, Date Masamune. A good chunk of volume two is dedicated to trying to further Isanami’s character, showing her desire to be less of a helpless damsel and more of an active participant in her own fate. Unfortunately she’s also shown to be rather incapable in this area, and continues to be in constant need of rescuing and protection. Saizo’s character doesn’t fair a whole lot better though. He’s the stereotypical quiet, conflicted badass with a heart of gold that can only truly be brought out by the love of a good woman. Most of that was really established in the first volume, and in these two volumes we see him acting on it as he dedicated himself to protecting Isanami no matter what. This is part of the problem with the series, right now it’s just too… bland and generic. The characters don’t come across as having much in the ways of personality. Further, it really feels like the characters are simple being dragged around by the pllot and that they lack agency. They just move from one fight to another as everyone attempts to take Isanami’s power for their own purposes.

Shimotsuki’s artwork shifts between pretty and horribly cluttered. She’s clearly trying to make interesting and detailed fight scenes, but often the flow and momentum is undercut by small or cluttered panels, making it difficult to tell what’s happening and who it’s happening to. When the action is clear, it’s often dynamic and pretty snazzy to look at it. The character designs are perhaps a tad over done though. All their outfits have flappy bits, complex patterns, dangly bits, and more. While they look lovely on covers and even in a few of the splash pages and larger panels, I can’t help but feel that the overly detailed designs simply add to the clutter in the smaller panels. It’s also worth pointing out just how much fan service is present in the series. While there was certainly a fair amount of it in the volume one, these two volumes introduce more women and with them comes more chances for titillation! Butt shots, crotch shots and other moments where the women strike sexy poses to show off their assets are in great abundance. There’s a few moments of nudity as well, though in one case I was surprised at how the nudity didn’t just serve to pander, but also show the toll battles with swords and daggers take upon a body.

Brave 10 is an interesting little series. It hits a lot of notes that I usually like, with a nice fictionalized period setting and a healthy dollop of ninja violence. These are things that attracted me to anime and manga in the first place, but something about it is just lacking. The characters feel a little shallow and bland, and the muddled fight scenes keep the action scenes from being truly satisfying and enjoyable. It’s so close to being a really solid and great read, but ultimately ends up straddling the line between enjoyable and bland.

Brave 10, Vols. 2 + 3 are available now from Digital Manga Publishing and Emanga.com. Digital review copies provided by the publisher.

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  1. October 10, 2014 at 6:53 pm

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