Anime Reel – Anime & Manga TV News

World Embryo – Manga Mondays

Posted on: January 12, 2010

Cover for volume 3 of World Embryo

The French cover sure is... purple.

I’ve been reading Moriyama Daisuke’s World Embryo for years, and I was excited back in 2008 when Dark Horse announced its release plans for the Chrono Crusade creator’s current work. Sadly, the book has yet to materialize in America – current listings have it pegged for an August 2010 release, which is a very long time to wait for fans of Moriyama’s work, especially since World Embryo in many ways surpasses Chrono Crusade.

On the surface, World Embryo is another “Teenagers with superpowers” story, but a combination of Moriyama Daisuke’s amazing art and the dark mood of the story separate it from the pack. The main character is a lying, conniving boy with his own secret agenda and a grim resolve to see the world burn if it gets in his way, and the villains are ruthless body thieves who casually murder civilians and warp their bodies into horrific creatures. It’s chock full of mystery, conspiracy, murder, and tragedy, a more refined form of what made Chrono Crusade so exciting beyond the mere nuns with guns cheesecake.

It starts when Amami Riku, a mousy young student with a penchant for lying, receives a sudden e-mail from his beloved friend Amane, who was presumed dead in a fire two years before. The message leads him to an abandoned hospital with ties to his past, and he bumps into another old friend, Takebe Youhei. As he searches for signs of Amane, he stumbles right into a secret war being waged between a fiendish horde of body-stealing demons called Kanshu and a loose collection of individuals, including Youhei, who fight the Kanshu with special weapons known as Jinki. His world only becomes more complicated when he trips over a large egg that hatches into Neene, a girl who suspiciously looks exactly like a young Amane.

Riku quickly finds himself at the center of a whirlwind due to his knowledge of the secret Kanshu war and Neene’s enigmatic connection to the queen of the Kanshu. People from all sides constantly bombard him with shady offers and , and his world only gets more complicated when he becomes the latest victim of the Kanshu and is forced to take Youhei’s Jinki to save himself, killing Youhei in the process. Caught between the two worlds, the only thing he knows for sure is that Neene is the key to everything,and he resolves to deceive both sides of the conflict for as long as he can until he can find best outcome for him and his remaining friends, since his double life tends to leak out and hurt those around him.

The story is full of emotionally heart-wrenching moments, but I’d be lying if I said that the story was the main draw of this manga – with a monthly publication schedule for each chapter, it’s taken an awfully long time to develop the characters and give the story some momentum. On the plus side, Moriyama Daisuke’s art absolutely shines because of the extra time he’s allowed. The man can and often does put together unbelievably gorgeous two-page action spreads that remind you just how wonderful black and white can be. His art style has evolved from Chrono Crusade‘s Roaring Twenties fantasy to match the dirty, darker tone of this modern tale, with starker angles and greatly improved use of white space. His paneling and layout could stand to improve a little bit, and he could definitely take some lessons in how to draw girls who aren’t as busty as American superheroes, but overall I’m still a huge fan.

The manga’s already coming out in French and has a few other translations available world-wide, but for those Americans out there, you’ll have to wait until August to see this from Dark Horse – unless they delay it again, since it was first supposed to come out in Summer 2009. I promise you, though, it will be worth the wait.

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