Story: Jin (ShizenNo Teki-P)
What They Say:
Shintaro Kisaragi–self-appointed guardian of his domestic domain–has refused to leave the comfort of his room for two whole years. But Shintaro’s life is about to take an unexpected turn when his computer crashes and he is forced to venture into the world he was happy to shut out forever…and stumbles right into the middle of a hostage situation!
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
A shut in recently had his monitors broken and thus needs to venture outside for new ones. Loathing the outside world, he comes to “enjoy” his time outside until he’s thrown into a hostage situation. How will he get out of this mess? Meanwhile, a music idol tries to come to summer school only for her trait to kick in and create a ruckus outside. Getting dragged out of the chaos, she lands with a group called Mekakushi-Dan. Who are these kids? How did these kids get these powers, and how did fate assemble them together?
Kagerou Daze has an interesting premise. Kids, fated by chance, come together to form a group to support and use their powers. A bit generic in some areas, you can see some of the more interesting ideas bubble up that will take hold in later volumes. In the background of creazy powers, the teens get dragged into multiple events having them using their powers in interesting way to resolve the situation. It’s with these crazy events that helps to humanize these characters. While they try to handle situations such as finding a new cell phone, they mess up or have to default to a plan B. Knowing that they mess up, or play around like teens creates a sense of empathy for the characters. With that empathy bridge we can start to see what characteristics make up each character, which will lead to knowing their tendencies later. It’s too bad that between a major technical issue and Jin’s writing the premise not fully discoverable.
One issue that plagues Kagerou Daze is character identification. Swapping from character to characters is easy to do when in 3rd person limited. When you’re taking a first person view however, it can become hard to note who’s who without them having to directly come and tell you in text. While readers may feel it’s appropriate to do that, come out and have characters identify who the person is, it actually comes off as sloppy writing. Having the author bludgeoning you with who’s narrating instead of giving you a tap distracts from the story making it a lot less believable. A simple name identifier at the beginning of the chapter for the main narrator would clean up this issue and make it easier for readers to know who we are following.
Another issue is Jin’s wordiness. At many times it feels as if he’s trying to describe something simply to describe it. For instance on page 125, he describes each action breaking it into parts. To be blunt, better wording and action emphasis could easily make it feel more exhilarating while getting to the point. Again pages 64 to 65 takes a Tolkien-esque turn of trying to describe something. Just like Tolkien’s work, it’s tedious and could be done in shorter time while allowing the readers to image the scene. Using this mechanism, it exposes his prose as basic and not cohesive.
With that said, that’s probably Kagerou Daze works best as a book. By giving the text control to readers, they can speed through the problem and appreciate the whole of the first volume. Readers can start to see the story gelled together. They also can start to see where this series will go. For instance seeing the formation of the Mekakushi-dan, as well as the events playing out for their formation feel natural when the reader controls the speed of which these formations happen. Moreover, the way in which the events play out, take for example the kidnapping scene, really can push a sense of urgency when the readers gain control to read the first volume.
Final note: He made a joke about “chin chin” and for mentioning Nigeria’s chin chin (a snack), that mention gets a nod in my book.
Jin has some work to do with Kagerou Daze. The premise is interesting but the way he writes holds back the flourishing of the premise and ideas. If an editor can guide him into making adjustments on character identification as well as knowing what to keep and what to leave for the reader, then we can really start to see how things play out for characters. Until that point, it’s like bread: nice to eat, contains what’s necessary, but will not feel substantive unless aided with outside help.
Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: May 19th, 2015