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All that glitters can be stolen in the blink of an eye!
Jing: King of Bandits, Vol. 1 - Yuichi Kumakura
Member Name: ROMEHEREWECOME
Jing: King of Bandits, Vol. 1 - Yuichi Kumakura
Date: 27/09/11, updated on 27/09/11 (15 review reads)
Advantages: Interesting, thoughtful, action packed
Disadvantages: A bit obscure
I am sure everyone who regularly reads my reviews is now sick of me harping on about Tokyopop and the sad fact that despite it being one of the largest UK manga publications is going into extinction but just thought I would add this little paragraph in for those who are not aware of the dilemma.
Born in Japan in 1971 Yuichi Kumakura is mainly known for the king of bandits Jing series and darker follow up featuring the protagonist as an older teenager. Apart from a fact that they are a Taurus little else is known about them apart from the fact that they must have a Keene interest in alcohol as most of the environments and characters are named after alcoholic beverages and cocktails.
The main protagonist of the series is a teenager called Jing, it is said that he can steal anything precious, all that glitters or even your life in the blink of an eye. He is no mere teenage delinquent however as he doesn't go after just any piece of treasure but the rarest that most think are mythical or fairy tale based. His hair is as dark and spiky as Denis the Menace or Goku from dragon ball Z but his style is that of Gok Wan with steel toed military boots and a bright orange raincoat he certainly stands out amongst the standard male protagonists. He is also very philosophical and knowledgeable for a kid his age.
His best friend and partner is a large crow with a foul and flirtatious mouth called Kir and together they can rob the most heavily armed castle or escape from the dankest darkest dungeon at the centre of the earth. As together they can use an ultimately powerful attack called the Kir Royale (also an alcoholic beverage featuring blackcurrant I believe) that can blow people and buildings away in one blast. The attack functions when Kir attaches himself to Jing's arm and a large green energy beam shoots from kir's mouth. The process is a little grotesque if you think about it as Kir metamorphoses into a large organic gun though the artwork isn't graphic or vulgar.
1st Shot:In the city of Thieves- Jing and Kir travel to the city of thieves to find the double mermaid tear which can only be produced when a mermaid cries. Upon their travels they discover that an evil villain holds the half girl half fish creature and will actively challenge any thief to try and steal her. Though it has become apparent that despite the villain Cognac (yes another alcoholic drink) has the mermaid and treats her horribly he has not been able to gain any jewels.
Jing being a little miracle worker however takes on the challenge while also helping and elderly lady find her daughter and helping a flightless female dragon (and we are talking giant vicious Harry Potter style dragon here) to rescue her egg which would otherwise end up cognac's breakfast on the way to rescuing the mermaid in the top floor of Cognac's castle.
There are a few mother and child bonds in this chapter and Jing takes on a very Robin Hood like role in the rescue of damsels in distress even if they aren't human or not even mammal in species.
2nd Shot: Mystery of the Phantom Ship and 3rd Shot: The King of Bandits Test- Kir and Jing arrive at a haunted Port called Blue Hawaii (sounds like another cocktail right) were all the local people seem to catch are phantom skeleton piranha like fish. The head of the police department also seems to be under some form of evil spell also leaving all the responsibility of protecting the port to his daughter Rose (the variety of wine).
Together Jing Kir and Rose discover an off shore pirate ship which is running a secret illegal gambling facility powered by human greed. It is this ship which is creating all the weird side effects in Blu Hawaii. Initially the group fall into the gambling and eating the heavy rich food provided, but after a while the captain of the ship a large pig called Grappa whom takes on the appearance of a mecha piggy bank Jing is challenged to a battle. It turns out none of the gusts are as they seem they are all ghouls and demons created from greed and gold coins.
As to be expected Jing and Kir manage to get out alive but instead of stealing treasure this time he steals a kiss from Rose (or rather Rose steals a kiss from him in a moment of passion).
4th Shot-No Time For Adonis- In the city of Adonis "Any person found to be acting as the organizer of activities with an expressed or implied goal of promoting tardiness for the purpose of reforming the City's schedule, taking part in discussions concerning such practices to the end of meeting these or similar goals, or otherwise perceived as an instigator of such actions as would pertain to such goals, will be sentenced to death, and summarily executed."
Jing and Kir set out to capture the clockwork grape grown in the centre of Adonis despite the fact that any trespassers or anyone who disrupts the schedules of any of the local inhabitants will be executed. As to be expected Jing breaks the rules as usual and rescues a beautiful young girl with plated pigtails from being executed and is thus on the most wanted list, in yet another city. However the head of this city isn't so different from Jing he too has an animal partner who can fire super powerful beams, her name is Sherry, she is a fox and more dangerous than Kir in that she can even spot her foes in the dark. Her master Gear is also an older teenager who looks a bit like David Bowie from the Labyrinth with huge 80s hair and lots of skin tight spandex style black clothing. He is unforgiving and doesn't think twice about indiscriminate killing.
We don't find what happens after these two young men meet but the story is faced paced and thrilling so you are encouraged to read on and get the next volume to conclude the cliff hanger.
The world is different to that of most manga in that it is fantasy horror, there are monsters, mutants, pirates, skeletons, ghosts, ogres and various other forms of fantasy beasts and humanoids constantly tearing around the backgrounds and cities which Jing explores, they are even in the bars and hot springs but this seems to be the norm for this particular world. Some of the girls are rather scantily clad also but no over exposure or giant oversized boobs like divergence Eve or High school of the dead. The main characters are ever optimistic and philosophical also. Though as I said before most of the characters are named after alcohol which I think is a little strange.
The art style and the facial expressions of the characters are really something else also and very unique too, I havnt seen art quite like it before.
There is also a little extra in the back with production sketches and advertisements of other manga.
The manga is usually £6.99 though it has been out a little while and may be hard to find. There is an anime also though this was designed with Jing being an older more handsome teenager, so it is a little different from the manga.
Summary: A pretty darn good little series
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