Upon the release of Ranma 1/2 on Bluray, Mike takes a stroll through the world of Rumiko Takahashi.
Reviewby Theron Martin, Nov 15th 2006
Nanase and Henry were seen rescuing the woman on the cruise ship, but while one of the witnesses is a detective with too many questions, the other proves to be another psychic, one who could ultimately be a great help to Nanase. Later, Nanase goes to a casino to win some money while Henry and Norio stay behind in their hideout in Hokkaido. In the process she falls in with a vivacious young woman she nicknames Princess Henide, who isn't a psychic but whom fascinates Nanase nonetheless with her chaotic thoughts and forward, free-swinging behavior. Hanging out with her new friend leads Nanase to her first prospective sexual experience, but she also discovers a very real and deadly threat to psychics, one which puts Nanase and those she cares about in grave danger.
Telepathic Wanderers is not a widely-available title in brick-and-mortar stores, probably because it's distinctly aimed at mature audiences in a field dominated by sales to teenagers. That's a shame, because few manga titles out there are more worthy of a look. If smart, sexy, well-drawn thrillers appeal to you then this is a title you should certainly be checking out.
Stories involving psychics rarely delve into the minutiae of being a psychic, but that is exactly where this series excels. Much of the content focuses on what Nanase reads off of people (whether intentionally or not) and how she deals with it. It raises some interesting practical points, such as how Nanase, at 22, has never been with a man because what she reads from other people's minds about their desires usually repulses her, or how drinking too much alcohol can affect her abilities. The drama and tension in the series also comes from what she can read off of people, and the extremes she's willing to rationalize herself going to for protection of herself and friends.
The first chapter of this volume wraps up the cruise ship storyline begun in the previous one and completely carries through the mostly unrelated four-part “Princess Henide” story arc before beginning a new story arc in the final chapter that directly spins off of the “Princess Henide.” Throughout the six chapters Nanase is well-developed, emphasizing a careful and practical approach to matters that leaves her a bit reserved but also allows her to take drastic action when needed. Her refreshingly atypical persona for a female manga lead is joined by the much more social and chaotic Princess Henide, whose scatterbrained thoughts are accompanied by a fun, carefree spirit, strong libido, and great savvy in social circumstances, traits which make her a total opposite to Nanase and thus very intriguing both to Nanase and the reader. Such strong (and believable) development and definition in only a few chapters helps her to also stand out amongst other ditzy young women in manga and anime titles. Even the newly-introduced secret organization out to exterminate psychics, while predictable in its appearance, is handled exceptionally well, as the threat it poses feels vague but also very real.
But perhaps the series' strongest merit is its artistry. The character designs are not only beautiful (especially Nanase, who is one of the best-looking young women you'll ever see in manga) but utterly devoid of any of the caricatures and distorted body proportions so common in the current style of manga art. Lines are smooth, rounded, and drawn with care, shading is exceptionally well-handed, and backgrounds are rich with detail where necessary; this is obviously a work artist Sayaka Yamazaki put a lot of time and care into and not the somewhat rushed look one normally expects from mainstream manga. It's more than just that this is a team project, so that the writer and artist can each concentrate on their specialties; these manga-ka are very good at what they do. The most interesting visual gimmick is the way the shading pales out in scenes where Nanase is getting flashes of telepathic reads off people, and enough nudity, near-nudity, and suggestive content is present to remind the reader about why this title can legitimately claim to be sexy.
Tokyopop's production of this volume provides color cover art that's the weakest that will be seen anywhere in the volume. A brief review of past events is included at the beginning, and the volume wraps up with a Next Volume preview done in character. What few sounds effects get used are left untranslated, which proves to be a detriment in a couple of places where the nature of the sound effect isn't clear from context.
If Telepathic Wanderers has a flaw, it's a tendency to be a bit overly dramatic with its normal dialogue. However, this is a very minor negative in what is otherwise one of the best all-around manga titles that you probably aren't reading.
Overall : A
Story : A-
Art : A
+ Strong writing and characterizations, top-rate artistry.
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