By Hiro Mashima
Genres: Adventure, Action, Comedy, Fantasy, Shounen, (Romance), (Mystery)
The Continent of Song is in chaos. The sinister secret society known as Demon Card is using the power of Dark Bring to destroy everything in their path. The only things capable of stopping Dark Bring are the Rave stones. Unfortunately, the Rave Stones were scattered around the globe in an explosion 50 years ago, so now they must be collected by the Rave Master in order to stop Dark Bring once and for all. This new task has been given to Haru Glory; a sixteen-year-old boy from Garage Island. The World’s fate now rests on the new, young Rave Master. (Source: Tokyopop)
Thus begins the epic adventure of our favorite rave master, Haru Glory!
So, what factors compel me to pick this one above all other Action Shounen manga (ie. Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Psyren, Fairy Tail, Black Cat, Soul Eater)? Indeed, after thousands upon thousands pages of manga experience, the best I can do is to pick a Shounen manga? Allow me to enlighten you.
First of all, Rave Master is Shounen. There is no dispute about it. It is also a good Shounen, and that means that every once in a while, readers starts to feel blood rushing into their heads. Or, as I would like to put it, it is epic. In this regard, it is on par with Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, etc. As we will soon see, though, Shounen is definitely not the only strength it possesses.
Amalgam of Genres
Another noteworthy trait about Rave Master is that expands its territories to encompass more elements than what a standard Shounen would include. Of course, all topnotch (popular) Shounen has shown this characteristic to some extent, but rave master has done this especially well. Other than action, fantasy, and comedy, RM puts a heavy emphasis on adventure (much like One Piece), drama, and even romance. Granted, the romance aspect is nowhere as explored as it is in romance-oriented manga. It is still a respectable amount of other elements added to this epic Shounen saga without ruining the Shounen aspect of it.
Moreover, while RM has more in variety, it cuts down on fan-service. This is a fantastic news to most of the readers who are tired of freakishly common occurrence of boobs on manga pages, but maybe bad news for those of you who find an excessive fan-service enjoyable. Nevertheless, the romance in RM makes up for a lack of fan-service.
It is among some of the best world construction pieces ever found in fantasy manga, probably because the mangaka is a huge fan of Eiichiro Oda, creator of One Piece. Readers who appreciate a frequent change of setting throughout the narration of a story will surely love this.
Depending on how much the readers like the art in One Piece, or a more direct comparison, Fairy Tail, there will be different opinions on the quality of art. Personally, I found this kind of a style quite different from a majority of other manga, in a refreshing and enjoyable way.
Instead of talking about all the characters, I will only talk about the male lead, Haru Glory, which is, again, what sets this manga apart from all other Shounen.
Typically, male lead (in Shounen) is a bold, determined, adventurous, righteous individual in the manliest way. Obviously, there is an underlying flaw to this setup. It requires the male lead to be also a bit slow in the head and sometimes an EQ way below that of an average person. If I have to state one reason that a lot of people hate Shounen, this is why.
Fortunately, Haru Glory defies this rule. Sure, he has the typical boldness, an adventurous spirit, and determination, but in moderation. On the other hand, he is thoughtful, sensitive, and knows when to give up. Somehow, he seems like more like a person one can relate to instead of just an icon of justice (like Naruto).
Where this manga truly shines. I said in previous posts that Psyren is a case of good brain-storming. Then, RM must be an incidence of phenomenal overall planning.
Let me remind you of another illness that befall most popular Shounen, the story will slow down between different arcs, and will almost come to a halt before the grand finale. For the most parts, this doesn’t apply to RM.
I will give you a succinct summary of my experience reading this manga:
Slow Start –> Gradual intensifying plot –> Epicness –> building up intensity –> Epicness
… … [repeats cycle]
(A few slowdown in between)
… … [repeats cycle]
FLASHBACK -> MIND-F*CKED in an amazing way -> Grand Finale Battle -> Epic Ending!
And this, readers, is why Rave Master is number one on my list.
Much thanks. It’s been a ride writing this countdown/recommendation/review series.