Reviewby Liann Cooper, Apr 27th 2004
G. Novel 1: Vol. 1
They call themselves "The Getbackers" and their claim to fame is a 100% case success rate. Ginji Amano and Ban Mido make up the spiky-haired retrieval agency that will get back any lost or stolen item, for the right price. On the surface, The Getbackers look like an ordinary male duo; however, Ginji and Ban both possess unique capabilities. Ginji is able to produce thousands of volts of electricity from his body while Ban has what's called 'The Evil Eye'—for one minute he can hypnotize someone by trapping them in their worst nightmare for what seems an eternity. The Getbackers are ready and willing to take on any recovery job, no matter how menial. Since they have a 0% success rate with money, Ginji and Ban have no choice but to take what they can get.
Getbackers fans should be wetting themselves in glee over the recent licensing of both the anime and manga, and for good reason. In the myriad of shoujo titles, it is a rarity to see a shounen title surface that doesn't have a “game-oriented” storyline. Taking the simple concept, “We're going to get stolen stuff back,” Yuya Aoki pushes it the needed one step further. Rather than making the '"situation-of-the-week” occurrences the main focus, he makes the underlying relationship between Ginji and Ban the real draw to the series. Tied to each other through their personal motivations for completing whatever their current job is, Ginji and Ban's humorous trials and tribulations while dealing in the freelance retrieval business are more than entertaining. For a 22+ volume-long series, entertainment value is worth its weight in gold.
Having just had their car towed and unable to pay the violation ticket, Ginji and Ban are off to a rough start. Starving, dirty, and attracting many flies, they eventually encounter a once wealthy man named Yamamura. Offering them all the money he has left (which isn't much), Yamamura's dying wish is to have The Getbackers get his daughter back from the Yakuza so he can see her one last time and apologize. In this story, we are offered one of our first glimpses into the love/hate relationship of Ginji and Ban. Ironically, Ban declines the job due to Yamamura's meager payment offer, but Ginji insists on pursuing the job because it's the right thing to do. While many relationships would crumble over such slight disagreements, Ginji and Ban's friendship seems to grow with every discordant decision. Partially swayed because of pride and partially because of Ginji's incessant "Ban-chan" whines, Ban eventually comes around and accepts Yamamura's request. Taking up a majority of the first volume, the Yamamura story is entertaining, but doesn't do much except serve as foundation for character introduction.
With the conclusion of the Yamamura story, we're introduced not only to a new job for the Getbackers, but also to three new characters: busty mediator Hevn, Honky-Tonk owner Wan Pore, and cute Natsumi Mizuki, who seems to be somewhat of a comical love interest for Ginji. Job number two is per request of client Kinue Akagawa-- to go retrieve a giant Doraemon-like cat. Of course, it's not what's on the outside that counts, but what's on the inside, and on the inside of this giant cat there happens to be a much wanted disk. As it turns out, during the retrieval of the kitty statue, the sought after disk has slid into the possession of an unknowing Ginji. Violent confusion ensues and like all good stories do, volume one closes out by leaving the reader with a cliffhanger.
Even without its intriguing characters and storyline, you'd probably want to flip through Getbackers just because it looks cool. Highly detailed, Rando Ayamine's art emphasizes the dark and gritty mood of the series. Perhaps the best example of this emphasis is during a scene between the Getbackers and the Yakuza. After using his Evil Eye, Ban has managed to trap Yamamura's daughter Rika in a demon-infested hallucination. By seeing grossly deformed zombies eating people's faces, and watching the skin melt off of the Yakuza members' bones, the reader will feel like they too are trapped in the grotesquely horrifying nightmare. Without meaty scenes such as this, Getbackers would become unbalanced with just its story, especially with the impending Thunder Emperor arc.
Much more lewd in language and content than its anime counterpart, the GetBackers manga may be a shock to those who have only seen the anime. Offering its fair share of babes, boob-grabbing and well placed panty shots, Getbackers holds its own in the fanservice game. However, no matter how titillating the women are, variety is a plus...and this is where Getbackers' artwork stumbles. With the exception of the well-endowed blonde Hevn, all of the women in Getbackers tend to look exactly the same. Though beautifully drawn, they all seem to be cookie-cutter clones of Natsumi-chan. Natsumi is cute, but not cute enough to be playing the role of almost every female character.
Tokyopop took on the rather daunting task of translating Ginji and Ban's Japanese street talk into something that an American audience would be able to digest. However, rather than coming across as heroic "Getbackers," Ginji and Ban end up sounding more like gangsters. In one scene, when talking with Yamamura, Ginji says, "You threw down the grub, so I'll lighten things up." While this doesn't exemplify "street talk," Ban's response does: "You're 'bout to see some trippy haps!" Though not Tokyopop's fault per se, the gangster-like jargon is still fairly bothersome to read. Keeping with their "100% Authentic Manga" slogan, Tokyopop opted for untranslated sound effects. Unfortunately, they didn't include a sound effects index in the back of the book. Though not really a necessity, some readers may find it rather irksome that one isn't included.
If you're looking for pages and pages of male eye candy, continue on down the shelf and pick up Juvenile Orion or Saiyuki to fulfill your bishounen fantasies. However, if you're looking for intriguing characters, great artwork, and--gasp!--cute boys without long, wispy hair, retrieve that $9.99 out of your wallet and give Getbackers a go.
Overall : A
Story : B+
Art : A+
+ Just about everything
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