The Battle of Genryu, Vol. 1
Jinnosuke Tajima is a goofy teenager with a secret he doesn’t even know about. He studies martial arts at the Minamoto School, an exclusive group that teaches advanced and lethal maneuvers. Every now and then, he has what he refers to as “a good day.” On these days, his agility and reflexes are as astute as a fictional action hero. He used to have his good days only once or twice a year. But recently, he’s been having them about once a month.
His father and sister seem to know why and dread the day that Jin’s powers are fully unleashed. Though it is not explicitly stated in the first volume, the characters imply that his powers are not a happy blessing chock full of unicorns and rainbows. Most likely, they will result in bloodshed. But hey, this manga wouldn’t be any fun without a little blood, now would it?
Jin’s estranged older brother Soichiro returns to town to show off his mastered combat skills and claim Jin’s life for himself. He sets up Jin, and later his friend Fusano, with attackers before showing up himself to take his brother down. Partway through the book, Soichiro tries to get Jin’s sister Toko back. Toko claims that she no longer has “any interest in a man I broke up with.” So...if she’s Jin’s sister and he’s Jin’s brother...wouldn’t that make them siblings? Nah, Jin was probably adopted by Toko’s father, but does author Shoko Fukai make it clear? Not really. Hopefully that will be explained soon.
Once Soichiro returns, about halfway through the book, the rampant pacing starts to relax, allowing the mystery and potential bloodshed to finally take the reader on the ride they’ve been waiting for. Soichiro appears to have super powers beyond those of normal humans, and if it’s any indication, Jin will soon have these deadly abilities as well.
At the start of the series, the pacing is rushed with characters giving heavy foreshadowing or even explaining away details. About forty pages in, the characters claim they recognized fake police badges because they “looked slightly different from the real deal...” followed by the line, “Come to think of it, you do watch a lot of cop shows...” Yuh huh. The dialogue editing could’ve been a bit tighter when phrases such as “suck it in” should read “suck it up.” We all know what the difference is. Even though it may not have the most riveting and subtle dialogue, this is an action story for teen boys. No one is expecting Shakespeare.
The Battle of Genryu is the type of manga you hand to the boy who asks, “I like Bleach and Naruto, what else would I like?” So far, it appears to be a very typical shounen manga where you have a goofy teen boy with superpowers mixed in with a pinch of fan service and a dash of slapstick. As the series goes on, the hero learns how to harness these powers by getting into lots of brawls. It will always appear as if he’s going to lose, when suddenly he pulls off something fantastic and over-the-top he didn’t even know he could do.
It’s a formula. It’s cliché. But it works. This series isn’t widely known yet, which at least gives it an opportunity to make an impression. The question is, will it be compelling enough to be successful? That will take time and more volumes. The Battle of Genryu does have the potential to get dark and bloody, but it’s difficult to judge this early on if it will be worthwhile to continue following it.
Reviewed by Courtney Kraft on August 18, 2009
The Battle of Genryu, Vol. 1
- Publication Date: December 31, 1969
- Genres: Graphic Novel
- : pages