animefringe june 2003 / reviews

Red Prowling Devil Vol.2
Format: left-right manga
Production: ComicsOne / Toshimitsu Shimizu
Comments: The pacing just doesn't click.
Animefringe Reviews:
Red Prowling Devil Vol.2

Allow me to put on my jeer-proof protective covering before I say this. *zip* Right. I'm not a fan of Top Gun. *endures the assault of assorted projectiles*

Seriously, it doesn't have any sort of nostalgic connection to my childhood. I have seen the fourteen Iron Eagle movies, and I remember enjoying one of those. For Iron Eagle, it might've been the Queen music, however.

I do think fighter jets are neat. I'm a big fan of all technology, and I have specs and photos of a wide range of vehicles, flight-enabled as well as grounded.

Red Prowling Devil reminds me quite a bit of Top Gun, but only because it features fighter jets. There is no Tom Cruise here, no Val Kilmer. Despite my lack of affinity for jet movies in the past, I actually found myself getting into the story of Red Prowling Devil.

The manga's main protagonist is Naomi, a former IRA pilot who was convicted of murdering an entire planeload of people as a terrorist act. She finds an unexpected way out of her life sentence when she is offered a job from a secret world power, where she must fly missions for the covert group in exchange for the chance to live a relatively normal life. Naomi is haunted by her mistakes in the past, and she probably would've opted to stay in prison rather than go out and kill people for another group, but a loved one is in the hospital, and only constant care and the money she earns from flying can save him.

The characters are interesting and the plot is adequately complex, but for some reason, things don't quite flow the way they should. I feel bad blaming the localization crew for this, but perhaps they're putting out these volumes a little too fast. The writing simply isn't as good as I think it could be, and the story suffers for it. However, there is a very intriguing story underneath this writing, and since we learn more about Naomi's past in this volume, I find myself looking forward to the third volume quite a bit.

I suppose if I had any gripe about the original content, it's the seemingly gratuitous nudity strewn throughout the manga. I'm not in any way offended by naked women, and I would be more offended if the nude scenes were cut from this edition, but they really don't help the story in any way. They don't really serve much of an erotic purpose, either, simply coming across as brief fan service breaks.

Yet, the dogfights are very realistically written, with technical elements frequently playing a pivotal role in the outcome of an aerial battle. Even though this is manga and not anime, there is a great sense of motion conveyed during each fight between rival planes.

For the most part, the visual style is enjoyable, and Toshimitsu Shimizu has an undeniably distinct touch. I became interested in this series after reading the amusing Maico 2010, and this work easily matches the quality of the his other series. The mechanical detail is especially impressive, with meticulous attention paid to the fighters in Red Prowling Devil. Of course, the character designs are all interesting as well, even if the women are all a bit equally busty.

The book is flipped from the original Japanese version, and it is roughly the same size as most of TOKYOPOP's recent offerings. It's a great series for manga fans looking for some realistic military action, but those of you seeking out magical girls need not look here. Fans of Tom Clancy or James Brady would do well picking this series up, and the casual mature manga fan should get his or her money's worth out of it, too, so long as you like fighter jets.