Global warming, animal rights, organic foods, military conflict, school funding, balanced national budgets, urban development; all of these buzz word topics cause a lot of discussion and argument in political circles. I imagine that many others, like me, have said, “What would I do differently if I were in charge and could make decisions?” It’s a daydream that I visit constantly. The struggle for power is one that dominates people’s lives and fills their imaginations. As Tears for Fears so eloquently puts it, “Everybody wants to rule the world.”
But what would you do to rule the world? What is right and wrong, and what sacrifices will you have to make to ensure your vision reaches completion? That question is the central theme that runs between the covers of Viz Media’s latest Shonen Sunday book, Maoh: Juvenile Remix. Longtime residents of Nekota City are troubled by rapid modernization. It threatens old ways, promises to destroy current businesses. Progress is correlated with corruption. Up until now, though, no one has stood against the strip-mall building, profits-checking businessmen who threaten to destroy the traditional Nekota City way of life. A group of vigilantes called the Grasshopper group protect citizens and stand against modernization. They seem to be a swarm fighting the tide, bravely taking care of citizens of Nekota City and keeping her streets safe. But as the hero of our story, Ando, finds out, things are not always what they seem.
Grasshopper, lead by the charismatic and energetic Inukai, is willing to do anything to stop injustice; even destroy those who would break the law. While most people remain unaware of Grasshopper’s bad side, our main character, Ando, is frankly well aware.
Ando is somewhat of a solitary guy. People think he’s odd, and it’s mostly due to the fact that he mumbles and talks to himself, speculating about events that are occurring. In the beginning, Ando merely wants to keep his head down and stay out of the limelight, but his discoveries force him to reevaluate his stance on life. He is now the most likely to question the status quo, and it might soon get him into trouble. But Ando has a special ability – he can make other people say what he is thinking through a sort of psychic ventriloquism. While it doesn’t seem like much, words are a very powerful tool, and while in the first volume we see Ando finding his talent and testing it, I suspect that the true use of his powers will come later on in the series.
Maoh: Juvenile Remix uses a fine mix of suspense and tension-building techniques to deliver key parts of the story line, and Osuga is not afraid to use dark tones, speed lines, and panel composition to sell the tension. Pages of heavily shaded backdrops and heavy tones hint at a sort of evil running underneath the surface of the actions in the book. The result is a moody, oftentimes creepy vibe that helps sell the premise of the story.
I find it interesting that the opening of the book quotes Nietzsche’s Beyond Good And Evil, saying, “He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster himself, and if thou gaze long into an Abyss, the Abyss will also gaze into thee.” I think this is a very good indication of the way Maoh: Juvenile Remix is going to progress, but it also reminds the reader that power is not something that can be attained without consequence. If absolute power corrupts absolutely, then the power to force others to speak words that are not their own will have its own insidious effect on Ando.
Maoh: Juvenile Remix is a suspense thriller getting ready to jump into full gear. Volume 1 is a great introduction to the series, and sets up what is sure to be a great story.