Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Rosy's scrawled manga recommendation: Gamaran by Yousuke Nakamaru

Yousuke Nakamaru

Middle Edo Period - One state becomes the gathering place for sinful martial artists, who believe in nothing other than power, know of no other way of life other than letting oneself go wild in the battle. That state is the Unabara State, the 'Haunt of Demons' Washitzu Naosata, the ruler of the powerful state, Unabara, is looking for his successor. He calls upon all his 31 sons, and tell them to search for whoever they believe to be the strongest martial artist of all. Each of their chosen martial artists then are to fight against each other until only one is left standing. Whoever is the winner, whoever has the strongest martial artist in nation by his side will become his successor. Out in the midst of the mountain is the doujo of the 'Daigame Ryuu' (Giant Tortoise Style). There lives Kurogane Gama, the son of the legendary swordsman, Kurogane Jinsuke, who is believed to be able to kill 1000 martial artists in Unabara. There, one of the son of Washitzu Naosata, Washitzu Naoshi, comes in search of the legendary swordsman, only to find that he had gone missing several years ago. After seeing the battle style of Gama, he instead chooses to ask Gama to come with him. Wanting to become stronger, Gama agrees to his offer, and that marks the beginning of Gama's battle to become the strongest of all.

Alternative names


Manga reader sites (free)
Manga Reader, Manga Here

Rosy's scrawlings on Gamaran
This manga surprised me. I was expecting the story to be pretty much what it was and because of that I was wondering if I'd get hooked or not, given that overly predictable story lines tend to disinterest me. Unless there's something special hidden within. In this case there definitely is something special. Gamaran isn't just your average historical martial arts story with the boy out to take down his dad plot ("I am your father." "NOOOOOO!"), though these stories are quite fun enough when written well. (If you haven't read one yet then Gamaran isn't a bad place to start. It covers the basics quite nicely.)
What's special about Gamaran is that there is a wealth of detail on fighting techniques, although sometimes fantastical, that can be gleaned if you so wish. All you need to do is pay attention to how things are done and why more than what the moves are called and how impressive they are. In fact, the author actually tends to highlight this information, sometimes stopping the flow of a fight scene to explain what's going on and how it is done. At other times, the information is simply written beside the move as it happens. Either way, you will be inundated with information on anatomy and the basics of martial arts fighting.
I have to mention that in Gamaran the naming of techniques follows traditional manga styles. There are indeed ludicrous names like "Purple Lightning". What's purple about it, I don't know... This does add an element of humour to the manga, supported in part by some of the arguments the characters have. But only once, so far, have I ended up in hysterics. The scene involves and apple, a selfish girl and a perverted boy and it is an oh, so very twisted Japanese moment.
Gamaran is otherwise a surprisingly addictive story with flashy martial arts fights throughout, loads of gore and brutality, delightfully corny challenges and grandstanding. It is light reading, for sure, but rather enjoyable for it and the extra fighting information you come away with is quite a bonus. Having had a few years whirl at martial arts myself I can say that much of it is useful once you look past the silly names and the fact that you won't be fighting with a sword yourself.
The art of Gamaran is a little rough at times but mostly well produced and smooth. It is built of shades as well as black and white lines in order to emphasis emotions and movement. The art is at its best during fight scenes where movement becomes the focus.

I'd recommend this manga to: those who like action and adventure stories set in historical times, fans of martial arts and stories on manhood, morality, justice and physical strength. This manga will appeal mainly to boys but there's nothing stopping anyone else from having a read.

Notes on manga reader sites
The quality of manga readers can vary. The uploads are often done cheaply or as a serious hobby by a collective. Be aware that sometimes licence hasn't been given but the sites noted above, Manga Fox in particular, are extremely careful about adding and pulling mangas according to license agreements. So you shouldn't have to worry too much about the material being pirated. There are also translated works and non-translated. Amongst the translated works you will find that the quality of translation may vary according to the skills of the translators. Usually the works are perfectly readable anyway, with only a few added or dropped words or a word in the incorrect tense or with/out plurals. But sometimes the text becomes gobbledygook. In which case, either seek another version or give up and buy an official copy once a printed translation comes out. The other issue of note is you may need to expand the screen to read the text easily as sometimes the scans are minimised a little.
I find that if a page doesn't download properly or some other issue occurs (too slow or someone ordered the pages incorrectly etc.) with one reader then skipping across to another reader and picking up where I was is quite easy and rarely annoying.
Otherwise, enjoy and watch out you don't get too addicted you forget about the necessary things in life.

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