Time to start rocking this joint.
Art/Story: Kouhei Horikoshi
What they say:
Spunky slum kid Astro gets the chance of a lifetime to end the chaos ripping apart his alien-invaded home planet when the playboy prince switches places with him. Now Astro has become Prince Barrage, a boy charged with the duty of restoring peace to the planet… and given an all-powerful magical spear to do it!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
Chapter 4: “Start” & Chapter 5: “Hands on Training”
Astro has decided to take up the mantel of the Prince of Industria, being the only person currently able to wield the orgue. Which means that there’s no time to spare in getting out there and learning how to fight. Tiamat is still concerned his new charge is too focused on his family, although he should be concerned about his own women-fearing weakness. (How much do you want to bet Tiamat’s former teacher was a woman?) The quest to free the planet begins, and it leads Tiamat and Astro back to the scene of their first mission, but on the way there they are waylaid by a team of bandits.
It turns out the bandit they fought before was just a low level lackey of an alien boss who is attempting to amass an army of conscripted locals to take the capital. Anyone who isn’t strong enough to make the cut is mercilessly cut down, or crushed, by the boss alien Deadrock.
This provides a perfect opportunity for Astro to learn how to fight and wield his spear properly, all while taking out a massive threat. Astro is a quick study, easily taking Tiamat’s instructions on how best to fight with his weapon and applying the advice quickly. Of course, the alien criminal is the first real enemy that isn’t going to go down in a single strike.
So far this is all a standard build up for a action series. I’m not to worried about the plot not wowing me right away. Shonen titles rarely pick up in that regard until several volumes in. What does impress me about this series right away is the level of detail in the art and the action.
Action scenes are a difficult thing to execute properly, and more than one artist has resorted to a confused mess of speed lines to hide what is actually going on. Here we get plenty of fantastic strikes, panel by panel, and it’s easy to see where each is connecting. There’s a great overhead shot which shows Astro and Tiamat rushing through a group of baddies which shows off just how good the artist is at connecting the characters hits.
The rock aliens also have fantastic designs, with lots of detail in the cracks and rocky features. I’m still less than enthusiastic with Astro’s royal outfit, those buckled shoes don’t exactly say ‘badass,’ which is why I’m glad it’s shed for a disguise at a point in the latest chapter.
Chapter 5 leaves off on a cliffhanger moment where it looks like Tiamat might be temporarily down for the count. I’m not exactly worried for his safety, or Astro’s.
Release Notes: This VizManga.com edition of Barrage is a part of the Weekly Shonen Jump Alpha, as viewed through Viz’s online reader.
Barrage is off to a fighting start, if not a particularly shocking one. The strength of the series right now lies in the art, which is fantastic for a weekly series. Astro is a headstrong but not stupid lead, and Tiamat is fulfilling is role as slightly older badass teacher quite well. We’re finally facing a foe which isn’t going to go down in a single hit, so hopefully some strategy will start coming into play during these fights.