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Saturday, October 17, 2009

Orion. Shirow Masamune (Writer & artist). Dark Horse Magna (2008)

An exuberant and not entirely successful comic. In the Yamata Empire magic and technology are the same thing and a plan has been developed to gather all the negative karma in the Empire and have it consumed by the nine-headed Naga dragon. The process does not proceed smoothly as the assumptions underlying the plan prove to be faulty and Susano, the God of Destruction is called forth. Susano realises what the problem is and tries to deal with it in the face on considerable opposition from the magicians of the Empire who still believe in the plan. More significantly Seska, the daughter of one of the major wizards pf the Empire has become involved in the process and wishes to take over the Empire herself. The story is told with considerable pace and humour and arrives at an amusing and satisfying conclusion.
The significant problem with the story is the weight of the explanations that is provided for the theory underpinning the activities of the wizards. Instead of providing enough detail to provide cover for the story, there is a virtual tutorial provided regarding the various processes and how they relate to each other. This weight of detail does not add depth to the story rather it stops it in its tracks and ejects the reader from the process. Shirow Masamune has clearly put a considerable amount of thought into the theoretical framework for the action and he seems determined to show it off.
On the other had his wonderfully friendly art is a treat, the characters are lively and endearing, the pages burst with detail none of which is distracting, they add to the story and pleasure of reading it. When explanations are not weighting the story down, it comes to exuberant life as the the energy of the cast splashes across the pages. The range of styles that are used is amazing as is the fact that they do not compete with each other, they sit comfortably together.This is a good fun comic that has a little too much gravity for its own good.

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