animefringe june 2003 / reviews

Silent Mobius Vol.10
Format: left-right manga
Production: Viz, LLC. / Kia Asamiya
Comments: The classic manga series comes even closer to its thrilling climax.
Animefringe Reviews:
Silent Mobius Vol.10

I'd be willing to bet that most of us reading Silent Möbius have already seen the anime series at least once, whether it was the movie or the TV version of the show. I know I have, and I even watch it still, on Tech TV. However, that hasn't stopped me from wanting to read the original manga, even if Viz is excruciatingly slow when it comes to manga releases.

Silent Möbius tells the story of two worlds, Nemesis and our own. A group of powerful dark magicians is trying to connect the two, spelling disaster for Earth and everyone on it. You see, Nemesis is populated entirely by demons that enjoy killing humans. With a name like Nemesis, what would you expect?

Luckily, there is still hope for humanity. A group of talented women (all part of the Attacked Mystification Police, or A.M.P.) and their combined cybernetic, magical, and spiritual powers are willing to sacrifice everything they have to stop the mad magician Maximillian Ganossa from opening the door from Nemesis. In the past few volumes, the structure of A.M.P. has changed drastically, with members leaving and arriving, and control of the department passing from hand to hand. Now, however, the women all realize they're getting ready for one final battle for the fate of mankind, and with help from the new arrival Lum Chang, there's a chance they may actually be successful.

There's a reason Kia Asamiya is one of the most highly respected manga authors out there today. The story for this excellent series is top-notch, with well-realized characters that are illustrated as beautifully as they are written. Major plot twists are planned far enough in advance that they don't throw off readers (even if we don't want to accept what happens, it makes sense), and we're left with a complex tale weaving science fiction, mysticism, and religion that is hard to predict and rewarding to read. This is primarily a drama, especially near the end of the story, for Asamiya isn't afraid to kill off characters, or irrevocably change their lives. All in all, it makes for some amazingly engaging reading.

Of course, the plot is impeccably complemented by the distinctive visual style Asamiya brings to all of his works. A great sense of visual pacing, good fight choreography, and attention to details helped get him his job doing line work on The Uncanny X-Men among other local tasks. There's an even balance of background objects and people, showcasing Asamiya's skill in a variety of ways. This is a very attractive series, and the visuals help it quite a bit.

One of the things that made me especially happy for this volume is the fact that Viz has dropped the price on the book by three dollars. It used to be $15.95, but now it's only $12.95 at the same large size. If the book wasn't flipped to read left to right, then it would be a perfect edition for me. As it is, I'm extremely pleased to see Viz lowering the cost of its releases, and it's certainly the sign of a growing industry. After all, for a profit to be made at a lower cost, more books must be sold to consumers. As I mentioned months ago in one of my columns, lowering the cost of manga can only serve to increase the fan base, so I hope this trend continues.

As with most Viz releases, there are no noticeable typographical errors, and the translated writing moves well. There is a handy summary of what's happened so far in the mythos, and they've also included character profiles for the A.M.P. girls. If that's not enough to convince you to pick this up, they've also included an art gallery featuring the monthly release covers as well as the original Japanese preview of the next graphic novel. This is a rather sweet release, and as I said, only printing it from right to left would make it better. Also, while Viz has indeed been slow about printing its manga, TOKYOPOP's good example has apparently rubbed off onto the comic publisher, for now it seems like there's only a few months in between each volume, rather than years. This is a huge leap forward from Viz's earlier operating procedures.

If you're a fan of good dramatic writing, then this is one of the best series you can get into. It's a deftly woven piece of sorrow, hope, and ultimately, humanity, and it will not soon be forgotten by its fans. There are only a few books left, so if you start collecting them now, you should be able to pick up the rest of the series by the time you've finished reading the first ten - so get them. You won't regret it.