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Barrage Vol. #01 Manga Review

5 min read
Barrage volume 1
Barrage volume 1

Enter the “Warring Planets Period”!

Creative Staff
Story/Art: Kouhei Horikoshi
Translation: Tetsuichiro Miyaki

What They Say:
Spunky slum kid Astro gets the chance of a lifetime to end the chaos ripping apart his 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! In order to save the planet, Astro will have to battle terrifying aliens while learning how to fight from his even more frightening guardian, the exacting knight Tiamat. Does a kid like Astro have what it takes to become the real prince and save the planet?

The Review!
Technical:
The cover here is decent, displaying an image of Barrage and Tiamat over a plain white background. For the most part this creates a nice sharp contrast, but the yellow color of the top of the Orgue blends into the white of the background a bit more than it should. The back cover has a rather cute image of Astro’s kids peeking over the spine of the book, placed over an image of stars and alongside a quick summary of the story. Sound effects are subtitled, text reads smoothly, and honorifics are not used. Paper quality feels nice, and extras are limited to a few bonus images at the end of the book. The art used here can occasionally fall a bit flat, but most of the time it’s rather stylish and expressive. The style is great at displaying emotions, and characters look distinct throughout. Backgrounds appear frequently and look fairly good.

Content:
Astro is a destitute young man living in the outskirts of the capital city of Planet Industria, struggling to scrape by. He’s certainly not the only one, as the invasion by numerous aliens and the ensuing “Warring Planets Period” has torn the planet apart. While doing his best at his job one day, Astro sees a pompous alien noble assault and torment his boss and decides to take a stand. The alien pulls out a laser gun but the royal guards arrive and put a stop to the situation, prompting the alien to throw Astro some money while looking down his nose at the young boy. Of course, Astro thinks the alien just dropped his wallet, and furthermore he finds himself fired for creating trouble. Astro returns home to the happy faces of the young abandoned children he has taken in as his family, and dreads telling them that he is once more unemployed. Before he can broach the topic, however, a young man who looks just like Astro appears, calling himself “Prince Barrage,” the Prince of Industria. Barrage then greedily yells out how he just wants to be free of responsibility and offers to pull a “Prince and the Pauper” sort of trade, handing Astro the royal treasure known as the Orgue which will in turn “prove” that he is royalty. Barrage is abruptly shot through the head immediately upon gaining his freedom, putting that dream to an early end. The royal guard then shows up and grabs Astro, believing that they have found Barrage, and drags him off to the palace.

Upon entering the palace, Astro meets the tough military man Tiamat (who fights using a rather stupid looking sword that can fire its blade), and in the process learns just how terrible the real Prince Barrage was. Meanwhile, the alien from earlier spots Astro and tries to use their previous encounter as leverage to gain the Orgue, which apparently possesses the power to conquer the planet. The alien then uses his cannon to assault the castle, only for Astro to leap into battle while yelling about the importance of family. Fortunately for our hero, the Orgue takes the form of a spear and allows him to make quick work of the enemy, taking him out in a single hit.

From there on, Astro ends up admitting his true identity, feeling bad for lying to the King about his family, and is assigned the job of bringing peace to the planet, becoming the real Prince in the process. Astro moves his family into the castle and heads out to a nearby village being terrorized by an alien. However, this battle once more ends in a single shot, and he quickly finds himself being sent out on a larger and longer journey alongside Tiamat. The pair soon finds themselves being assaulted by a band of masked women. Upon subduing them, our heroes learn that the women are being forced to round up able-bodied men by an alien named Deadrock. Unwilling to let this evil slide, Astro and Tiamat head off to beat down the mastermind, only to learn that Deadrock is able to detach body parts and replace them with nearby rocks. This means that, though the Orgue can hurt him, it can’t bring him down in a single hit. When Tiamat points out that Deadrock’s head is clearly his weakpoint, the massive alien panics and threatens to kill his hostages unless Astro surrenders the Orgue. Astro prepares to sacrifice himself and the Orgue, but thanks to the bravery of the women from earlier, he is able to end the fight without any casualties.

As the volume comes to a close, Astro and Tiamat decide to make a stop at a military town, only to be attacked by a girl riding a whale.

In Summary:
This series starts off with a decent premise, combining the classic “Prince and the Pauper” tale with a little more action and a whole lot more aliens. The main character of Astro can be kind of fun at times, but unfortunately he seems just a tad too focused on the importance of family, to the degree that it somehow ends up his defining character trait. The biggest problem comes from Astro’s weapon, which feels just a tad too overpowered, ending all but one of the fights presented before they can even really start. On the other hand, the comedic nature of the series makes a nice contrast with some of the harsher occurrences in the book. There’s also unfortunately few side characters of any significance developed here outside of Astro. Tiamat is probably the only other one with much in the way of screentime, and he does a decent job as the cool, collected warrior/mentor archetype, though his weapon is unfortunately pretty stupid. It’s also a little disappointing that we see so little of Barrage, as his character seemed pretty interesting, but at least he gets what is probably the best moment in the book. Hopefully, the final volume will be able to wrap up all the loose ends presented here while fixing some of the more glaring issues, as there’s definitely potential here.

Content Grade: B
Art Grade: A-
Package Rating: B+
Text/Translation Rating: B+

Age Rating: 13+
Released by: Viz Media
Release Date: March 5th, 2013
MSRP: $9.99

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