By Leroy Douresseaux
December 6, 2006 - 11:52
Rose Hip Zero takes us back to the mysterious origins of Asakura, but Volume 1 of RHZ focuses on Kyoji Kido, a Tokyo police officer who works in juvenile crime. Kido gets a visit from his old boss, Mr. Hata. Hata wants Kido to return to Division Four, a crack unit that deals with terrorist groups, and help them with the bold and deadly new international terrorist group known as ALICE, which has declared war on Tokyo's police department and is making assassination attempts on various department high officials.
Kido left Division Four after his wife was killed in London by a bomb attack. When Hata informs Kido that evidence indicates ALICE was involved, Kido jumps back to his old division. There is, of course, a catch. Kido must take a new Division Four agent under his wings, the highly athletic and firearms proficient Asakura Kasumi. Kido refuses, but Asakura's skill at firing Kido's favorite weapon, the Desert Eagle, which most men can't even handle, gives Kido second thoughts.
Many times, comic book reviews separate the narrative into story and art, and Manga is often not so much about plot and text with accompanying illustrative drawings. What's on the page exists as if it were drawn without a prose narrative first shaping it. Reviewing Manga is often about seeing and feeling what the Manga-ka draws onto the page, how he/she designs that page, and organizes in the context of other pages.
Tohru Fujisawa (GTO) and his assistants have presented a tale that is about wide-open visuals not words. It is action scenes, gunfights, explosions, and posing characters. There is certainly a plot, and we get to know the characters, but Rose Hip Zero is not to be thought about. RHZ is like a Hollywood action movie - theatre of sensations. That's not a bad thing. Rose Hip Zero wants to be crazy, sexy, and cool, and it largely succeeds.
In spite of awkward dialogue and an off-kilter character in Asakura, this is fun. The splash pages and double spreads and "camera angles" add up to page-turning, hardboiled Manga viewing experience. The only bad thing about Rose Hip Zero is that it ends, and we have to wait until March 2007 for the next volume.
Thanks to barnesandnoble.com for the images.