One of my current favorite manga creators right now is Ryukishi07, the individual behind the creepy Higurashi and the mind-bending meta-ride that is Umineko. Okay, he’s more of a Visual Novel creator (most of the manga he writes are adaptions of his own games), but I love his stories and all of the twists and shocks he pulls out with them. This particular manga is probably the most unique of all his stories he’s written, being that it’s more of an alternative history, action series rather than something that is about horror, heavy meta-fictional elements, or mindscrews. As such, I am more than intrigued about what he has in store for us with this book. Is it good?
Rose Guns Days Season 1: Vol. 1 (Yen Press)
Written By: Ryukishi07
Drawn By: Soichiro
Translated By: Caleb D. Cook
In Rose Guns Days, World War II ended a bit differently for Japan. In 1944, a huge catastrophe struck the country and Japan was forced to accept an unconditional armistice from America and China. Following that, the two countries began to reconstruct the former nation, but rebuilt it in their own image and allowed immigrants from their own nations to flood right in. Soon, Japan became unrecognizable and the Japanese themselves became the minority. Taking place three years later, our story is about a former soldier named Leo Shishigami and the people of Club Primavera as they try to get by in this new world of theirs.
My overall impression of Rose Guns Days: Season 1 Vol. 1 is a positive one. The setting and setup for thie world are intriguing, the lore and history of the universe has potential, and many of the characters make a good first impression. As the first part in a series, it does a great job at getting the audience hooked and wanting to see more.
After the solid introductory chapter, the next chapter builds off of the idea about Japan having been completely transformed by America and China, showing how the Japanese have been dealing with the circumstances, and seeing how it affects almost everyone and everything in different ways. Then the rest of the book is about Club Primavera having to deal with being hassled by the Japanese mafia (while also building the world up even more) and how they ultimately deal with it. It’s a very enjoyable reading experience, even with all the backstory and world building it does, since everything is introduced and discussed in a natural manner and each chapter usually has something exciting or tense happening. Plus, the main conflict is finished by the end of the volume, so you have a complete story with a few character subplots left to build upon.
The only problem with the story is some of its structure and storytelling early on. The first chapter of the volume, Scene 00 as it is called, introduces us to Leo and Rose Haibara, the madam of Club Primavera. It has him saving her from a bunch of goons trying to kidnap her and once he is done, he tells her his name. However, the next chapter pretty much repeats this entire scene with Leo running into Rose and saving her, only in fewer pages. Instead of telling Rose his name after saving her from goons however, he tells her his name after chatting with her in the club. It’s a rather strange situation and makes the opening feel rather repetitive and confusing, especially when it feels like a bit of rewriting could made this much better (like cutting Leo revealing his name to Rose in Scene 00, since it made more sense for him to do so in the following chapter both personally and thematically). Future chapters in the book even do the same thing, rehashing the final page of the last chapter as the new one, almost like it is a “Previously On…” segment from a TV show. It feels so awkward and strange.
Ryukishi07’s writing is strong overall and really helps to sell the crux of the story. From experience with his other stories (in particular Umineko), he tends to pace the story a lot slower and drag certain scenes and moments out. This manga is the opposite and everything moves quickly, which benefits this type of series and keeps things from getting dull. The characterization so far is good and I really like with what the creator is doing with some of his characters, dropping intriguing hints about their history and relationships with one another. Not everyone gets a lot of development so far, with Rose in particular being so far just a damsel in distress, but given the creator’s previous works, I have full trust in him for everyone to get a lot better. There’s no problem with the dialogue and the humor that crops up can give you a smile or laugh at times. The only problem I did have was that towards the end of Scene 04 it was starting to get a tad uncomfortable with the unneeded bit of exploitation, but that’s it.
We end with the artwork done by Soichiro (who drew one of the arcs of Umineko), which looks pretty good overall. The characters are drawn fairly well, each looking different from one another and designed well enough (though I wonder how the hell Stella’s breasts just don’t pop out of her outfit. I guess she has Emma Frost powers?). The layouts are constructed well and are easy to follow — particularly in Scene 01, where the art does a particularly strong job of building up how much has changed for Leo and the Japanese in their country. Also, the artwork isn’t as overall Moe (a particular type of art style where the girls are very cute and have huge eyes) like a lot of Ryukishi07’s other series, so that can be a plus for those put off by that art style.
Is It Good?
Rose Guns Days Season 1: Vol. 1 is a solid and promising start to a new series. In some ways, it reminds me of Baccano (one of my favorite series of all time) with its older setting and cast of quirky characters, but features a unique location with its own well-developed history. Maybe it’s not as complex as Baccano and it has a few problems, but overall this series is a lot of fun so far. I’m hoping for the best with this series, since it may encourage the creator to keep on trying new and different genres.