Western manga is far from its influences
World Piece features kung fu basketball robots and a Shrunken Earth – but sadly, it can’t live up to the manga that inspired it.
World Coin Vol. 1, the new manga-style graphic novel from the team of writer-illustrators Josh Tierney and Agroshka and published by Viz Media, is a light adventure through a sci-fi world of robots, basketball and shrunken planets . It might sound like fun, but unfortunately it’s less interesting than the sum of its parts and doesn’t live up to its manga influences.
World coin follows Lucas, a likeable teenager living in Toronto, Canada. Lucas is portrayed as somewhat clueless, the kind of guy who is loved by girls but who can’t go on a date; the kind of guy who just wants to play his favorite sport (basketball), even though he’s constantly throwing bricks.
Everything changes for Lucas when he goes there with his archaeologist mother. His mother is studying strange artifacts that may be alien in nature, and Lucas is understandably intrigued. Through a quick mishap with one of the artifacts, Lucas finds himself alone in a black void, with Earth shrunk to the size of a basketball.
What follows is a sort of shonen-lite experience as Lucas and his new friends Lully, an innocent non-princess, and Mitton, a pacifist Tsundere deserter, explore the futuristic world of Affin in their quest to save Earth. Lucas quickly discovers that Shrunken Earth is invulnerable – not only that, it’s a useful weapon. Lucas may be mediocre at basketball, but he quickly understands how to use Earth in some kind of basketball kung fu.
Lucas’ instant affinity for basketball-based combat is emblematic of what’s wrong with the book. Perhaps the most common trope in manga is that hard work pays off. It’s a markedly different take on American comics – Spider-Man gets bitten by a radioactive spider and he’s instantly the fully trained web-thrower we know and love, at least when it comes to his powers and ability to fight. fight. On the other hand, a character like My Hero Academia’s Deku is forced to sweat, bleed and cry to achieve his goals.
Lucas doesn’t need to work for anything – he’s immediately powerful, able to handle anything that comes his way, easily sending off multiple enemies on his own. He also doesn’t have the angst that makes a character like Peter Parker compelling. Given the high stakes of his situation (literally the fate of his planet is at stake), he does not seem disturbed by everything that happens to him. Lucas is a blank slate; he has no real opinions or character traits, and the book suffers.
Likewise, the world of Affin never feels quite fulfilled. There is a kind of army called the “probots” and there are also robots called “probots”. There’s an ongoing war between factions that are never specified, it’s all generically sci-fi … and that’s about all we know. The best manga create vibrant, vivid worlds from the first page, and sadly Affin isn’t it.
All of this may seem to nitpick and unfairly criticize a work clearly designed for children. But just because the target audience of a media work is made up of children doesn’t mean its characters still can’t have depth. The of the same name A piece is a good example of this, as are most Shonen manga – Dragon Ball, Naruto, etc. These stories have fully fleshed out characters with clear goals, desires, flaws, quirks – you name it. Likewise with their setting: A piece Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates arrive on new islands frequently, and the world-building is always superbly detailed and deep.
It’s just World coin volume 1, of course, a lot of character development and world-building is probably still to come. There are also positive aspects of the novel – Agroshka has a real knack for drawing robots, the concept is fun and creative, and Lucas Lully and Mitton’s friends are lovely and have the seeds for character growth. World coin doesn’t make a good first impression, however, and unfortunately readers will likely leave Affin’s world without ever really knowing it in the first place. Ultimately, for a manga that seems to want to show off its love for the genre, you’d better just stick with the source material.
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