Wolf's Rain Vol. 1
In a desolate post-apocalyptic world, human lives are filled with grievances, but hope sets them apart more than anything. Hope for a future. Hope in finding Paradise.
The central theme in Wolf's Rain is finding that Paradise. In a world where wolves are believed to be extinct for two centuries, that hope comes to life with the arrival of the white wolf, Kiba.
The characters in this series are impressively beautiful and well-rounded. With ten key players in the first volume, it would seem that it would be extremely hard to develop them, but somehow BONES and Keiko Nobumoto pulls it off. Mind you, they are not exceedingly detailed, but their personality traits and types come shining through by the last page. Of course, if you're already a fan of the anime series as I am, then you already know what the characters are like.
It's very interesting that the manga version came out after the release of the anime series. One problem with that (and it can go both ways) is that I kept comparing the two. "Oh, that's new!" and "Hey! That wasn't in the anime!" were some phrases that came to mind while reading. Sure, it seems a little annoying when something you love so much changes, but I can't say that it wasn't for the best.
The storyline for the manga version has more changes than I expected, but the changes were good. New characters and even some changes in old characters were refreshing; it was like reading something entirely new! The art was great too!
The artwork, done by Toshitsugu Iida, was gracefully done. Speaking of the artwork... Both the front and back covers are done in subtle colors. The title and volume number are outlined in hot pink, which sets off the blue and black tones of the front cover. Kiba's eyes really stand out both in wolf and human forms on the front as well. Some of my favorite art, however, is the full color insert at the beginning, and the black and white images strewn throughout. A detailed image of a slightly wounded and relaxed Kiba lying against a tree trunk is very eye-catching.
My favorite part about Wolf's Rain Vol. 1 has to be the limited edition version available. This limited edition box set contains volume 1 of the manga in a custom artbox. On the cover of the artbox is a pencilboard that matches the illustration on the front of the box. The artwork on the box and pencilboard is just as gorgeous as the manga. The title is still outlined in pink as Kiba (in human form) stands amidst the snow, with his shadow (himself in wolf form) falling behind him.
Wolf's Rain is part of Viz's action line of manga and it deserves to be, although the story is more of a philosophical journey to find Paradise, and with it, happiness. This is one reason why some people enjoy it (myself included) and why some do not. As for the T+ (Older Teens) rating: I see how it might deserve it, since there are some scenes that might be too graphic for youngsters.
Viz has released a wonderful series that I already loved. I picked it up as soon as I saw it, and I'm very pleased with my purchase. No, it wasn't perfect; nothing ever is, but it was appealing and well thought out. I would recommend it for anyone looking for more than just the usual.