animefringe october 2003 / reviews

Flame of Recca Vol.1
Format: right-left manga / 184 pages
Production: VIZ, LLC. / Nobuyuki Anzai
Comments: A spunkily fun read.
Animefringe Reviews:
Flame of Recca Vol.1

What is it with these school kids today? Either they want to be swordswomen (Real Bout High School), creepy underground geniuses (Serial Experiments Lain), and now, ninjas. Why can't they just play sports or participate in theatre like everyone else?

I guess most of my ire comes from jealousy more than anything, but that's beside the point. I want to be a ninja!

Flame of Recca stars aspiring teenage ninja, Recca Hanabishi, and his newly discovered life's goal of protecting his beautiful classmate, Yanagi Sakoshita, from harm. Suddenly, that normally simple task has become harder than ever to perform.

While it's a little unusual that Recca is a ninja wannabe, what's more unique about the boy is that he has the ability to summon and control flames, hence the title of the series. In fact, he begins to discover that he's not the only person with a special talent, for Yanagi is able to heal others with only a touch. When a mysterious woman enters his life and attacks him and Yanagi without provocation, the daily worries of school and relationships fade away as he begins to focus more on keeping his friends (and himself!) alive.

The characters here are all quite likable, from the optimistic Recca to the lovely yet quiet Yanagi to the outgoing fight-loving tomboy, Fuko Kirisawa. Altogether, there are the makings of a pretty good action manga series here, though the story has only begun to unfold. As one of the first titles printed in Viz's new smaller, less expensive format, I'm expecting good things to come from Flame of Recca.

Even though this is a series with frequent fight scenes, a masculine main character, and a bit of fan service, the visual style could belong to a shojo manga. Girls are very pretty, and fine lines are used to illustrate the characters, lending them a delicate style not common in shonen manga titles. Accessories help make the character designs memorable, though I'm still wondering why Recca wears that bandage on his face...

As I said above, this is printed in Viz's new smaller style, and while I miss the larger volumes of times past, I do appreciate the $5 price drop per volume. It's printed from right to left, but the sound effects are translated, which doesn't do much for me. I'm always happier when I can see the original artwork myself, and to be honest, Whik, Krash, Skrssk, Fwush, and Whoom just don't impress me in any scenario.

Right off the bat, this manga is funny and contains plenty of action to keep the ninja fans out there happy until the release of the second volume. As usual, I'll have to add this series to my list of things to look out for in the months to come. Kidnap this from your local bookstore if you're eager to get an entertaining action series with some lovely characters to gaze upon as you watch others battle it out over the honor of a lady.