Translation: Christine Dashiell
Lettering: Rochelle Gancio & Rachel J. Pierce
What They Say:
On the island of Wakoku, the civil war offers anyone the chance of becoming a hero – from fishing women to bastard children, any can make a name for themselves by working through the rigorous ranks of the army. Hinowa, a young woman with extraordinary skills, is determined to do just that, but soon learns things may not always go to plan … More than ten years after a disastrous battle, the war is still ongoing, and a girl with black hair and black markings washes up on shore …
From the writer behind Akame ga KILL! comes a brand new series!
Content (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers):
The island nation of Soukai has been caught up in the civil war between Saryuu and Tenrou, but it is only now do they send out their own fleet of fishing ships to assist in the sea battle, lead by a dynamic young woman named Hinowa. While she may only command a group of thirty men, this ambitious captain has high hopes to win glory for herself and fame for her family so they will not have to suffer as she did, even as her subordinate Fumio is worried in facing the Tenrou as they head toward their allies’ base at Ryuumon Castle. However his concerns are soon answered as they receive word the enemy is taking a sea route to circumvent land defenses, thus they must face a massive flotilla of warships but their leader is not apprehensive. The enemy launches a shower of arrows which is easily shielded, allowing them to retaliate with fiery grenades which burst on impact causing explosive chaos, thus in the midst of smoke and bleeding men Hinowa maneuvers her faster ships into position and begins hand to hand combat. The heavily armored troops think this little girl is no match for themselves and are thoroughly surprised when she weaves between their clumsy strikes and cleaves men apart with no effort, leaving her true objective open to defeat the enemy commander – a man named Sakuza so they may claim victory and end this pitiful battle. But will it be so easy for this decisive warrior or is there something or someone else who can stand in her way?
Ten years after the conflict which would later be called the Battle of Ryuumon Castle in Yaenami Village within the nation of Soukai, a girl named Tobari rushes to her friend Hinata who is soaking in a hot spring, desperate to find help for a stranger she found washed up on shore. However before all of the details can be given her companion warns she is no longer to be known as Hinata, instead she now wishes to be called Hinowa in honor of her mother, the woman who wished for her ambitions to be known far and wide as she put an end to this hopeless war. The bickering continues after they rescue the unknown woman but as she recovers they have a sparring match, with Hinowa once again being beaten by Tobari. As the blonde girl gloats over her victory, the raven-haired foreigner staggers out of the house with her wounds bandaged and gratefully thanks them, introducing herself as Akame. However her next words confuse the girls when she inquires if this country is called Jinwa, to which Tobari responds with the proper name of Soukai, but Hinowa recalls the name sounding familiar – however that what this land was called over a thousand years ago when the nations were united. So who is this girl named Akame and why does she seem out of place … can she find the answers she seeks or are they beyond her reach?
When I first heard of the title Hinowa ga CRUSH! of course you cannot but think of Akame ga KILL! since both series are written by Takahiro-sensei and so with sincere desire was hoping this would be a worthwhile sequel. And while the same protagonist Akame is boldly displayed on the striking cover by mangaka strelka-sensei in her pronounced resolute strength, this is where the differences veer from the prior title, thanks to the introduction of a new lead character name Hinowa, quite fittingly a mother and daughter with the same name and wishes for fame and freedom. While this departure may relegate Akame to a secondary role as teacher, you cannot deny her underlying determination and skills play a prominent element within the story, making her presentation just as important as the primary narrative, especially when she displays the same curse marks from the first series and adds a new twist of interest with an unexplained time skip of a thousand years. While this fault may preclude any need for tying the two titles together, it still does create an interesting premise especially when one of the antagonists displays similar powers as the villains before.
However even without support from the previous series, you cannot deny this title has it own promise of genuine excitement generated by endearing characters and uncompromising aspirations which drive them to become admirable in their own ways, especially when you consider Hinowa’s wish to carry on her familial bond of desire and additionally securing it by taking on her mother’s name to propagate her reputation. And yet even with this thrilling narrative, it is undeniably the fantastic illustrations of strelka-sensei which bond with the reader and thus allowing us to create an amenable connection with these resolute heroines. The drawing style of this mangaka makes every image a magnificent display of splendor without any explanation need for each scene, the stunning expressions portrayed upon the actors’ faces are easily understandable and communicate without doubt every person’s drive for the situation and the fighting/battle dioramas are stunning in their gruesome beauty. Yet even if the dialogue was not translated, the pages transition so smoothly with definite ideas and concepts that words are not necessary to present decisive concepts of friendship, resolution, and loyalty, allowing this title to be a success on either side of the Pacific.
Hinowa ga CRUSH! has all of the promise of the prior series, and yet it creates its own distinct foundation to communicate a thrilling story of one’s need to succeed in life, not dragged down by social status or denial from others who cannot see past preconceived resentments. Hinowa is a charming girl with a temperament built upon her mother’s determination which was ingrained via familial ties, but even with the burden of living up to what she thinks is expected of her, she does not allow it to weigh down her giving personality and only draws others to her via admiration and charisma. If this series is just as intense and captivating as the previous one, then Hinowa ga CRUSH! will be something I cannot wait for with each exhilarating volume.
Content Grade: A+
Art Grade: A+
Packaging Grade: A+
Text/Translation Grade: A-
Age Rating: Older Teen
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: September 28, 2018