Review

by Carl Kimlinger, Feb 22nd 2007

Recast

GN 1

Synopsis:
Recast GN 1
JD lives a quiet existence, just another 12-year-old studying magic. Then he discovers that he is under a powerful transformation spell known as "recast." And that's when freakish bounty-hunters from the underworld come gunning for him. Armed with just his wits and an oh-so-convenient set of weapons that can transform themselves into anything (including a black hole, how useful is that?), JD sets out in pursuit of his destiny. Of course, he has to survive first.
Review:

Before reading Recast, forget everything you know about shounen fantasies. You'll need to, otherwise you'll be able to predict every plot point with painful accuracy. There isn't a drop of originality in this lake of clichés.

The world sets a fairly standard sword-and-sorcery styled fantasy in a fully fictional world with some modern touches (furniture, mass transit). There are rules that govern the world (a waterway that connects the upper and lower layers of the world, and magic that uses elemental magic particles, wow!) and a three tiered world structure (an underworld of "evil" demons, a middle world of humans, and an upper world of gods, amazing!). There's even a magic school (Potterific!). The cast is as interesting as a bowl of plain oatmeal, and just as inventive. Supporting characters don't display anything beyond a bare minimum of personality, JD's grandfather plays the mysterious benefactor/teacher role to the hilt, and JD himself is just another in a long (very long) line of spunky, cocksure young protagonists with enormous latent powers. What plot there is in this first volume consists of cryptic hints about JD's "true nature", glimpses of the shadowy figures behind the scenes, and lots of running, screaming, and fighting. And it doesn't help that the flow is consistently interrupted by clumsy, world-building info-dumps.

Of course, no one reads this kind of thing for originality, but it simply hasn't anything to separate it from the crop of (very) similar works available. It hasn't the punk sensibilities and emotional core of Naruto, or the crazed humor of Bleach, and lacks both of their flair for violence. For all its visual extravagance, spellcasting simply isn't as visceral as a sword to the guts or a fist to the face.

It isn't a total write-off though. There's some amusing humor revolving around a chastity spell that has been cast on JD, and some interesting (if slightly creepy) interplay between JD and his teacher Celine. And there's the art. Characters of both sexes are smoothly attractive and cleanly rendered. Settings are just as appealing, and are drawn, at least part of the time, even during more kinetic scenes. The real standouts, however, are the sleek armor designs, spectacular beasts, and the swirling, organic spell-structures; the beautifully grotesque ruler of the underworld is breathtaking in his complexity and symmetry. The problem is that, like the story, the art is too generic. It lacks the personality and distinctiveness that identify really good artists, and the sense of purpose that identifies a talented visual storyteller.

The only things that set this book apart from Tokyopop's usual productions are the left-to-right orientation of manhua, and the fact that the synopsis is inside the back cover, rather than on the back of the book. Unfortunately, as with their Japanese productions, there is no translation provided for the Korean sound effects.

It's hard to imagine this story appealing to anyone other than sword-and-sorcery fans who are hard up for some entertainment. This is an introductory volume, so the potential for growth is present, but with a start awash in mediocrity, there's little reason to return for a second serving. And that is a creative failure of the first order.

Grade:
Production Info:
Overall : C
Story : C
Art : B+

+ Looks good.
Has absolutely nothing to recommend it over other shounen (-styled) titles.

Full encyclopedia details about
Recast (Korean manga)

Release information about
Recast (GN 1)

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