Reviewby Luke Carroll, Oct 19th 2006
The Law of Ueki
In a world of powerful celestial beings, an epic contest is being held to select the next king! Each Celestial selects a kid in junior high to be his champion and grants him a special power. The kids battle it out - losers are eliminated, and winners are granted new talents!
Seemingly ordinary Kosuke Ueki has been chosen to be a contender. Granted the power to change trash into trees, Ueki has two disadvantages to overcome: one, he doesn't know he's a participant in the tournament, and two, how the heck can anyone win a battle with the power to turn trash into trees?
If you didn't know any better, you would think that the story was the creation of a secret recycling organization. The power to turn your everyday trash into trees is definitely one of the oddest concepts for a special power I have ever come by. That is not to say however that it is a useless power, especially when you consider the amount of trash you can easily find laying around on your average street. Being able to turn that useless food wrapper into greenery has to have some merit. Unfortunately beneath the wonderful ideas and humorous scenes, The Law of Ueki is just another run of the mill shounen title.
Ueki's unique talent is shown off very early on in the story. It is only after a few demonstrations of his unique powers however that we find out the origin of his abilities. It is a very straight forward story from here though as we further follow Ueki and watch the many uses his ability has.
As what would be expected from a shounen title, the end of the novel concludes unsurprisingly with Ueki tangled in his first fight against a rival kid with unique talents. Intertwined with all this is an abundance of comedic scenes, primarily aimed at the main character Ueki. These help provide some amusement in-between the clichéd moments, but will certainly turn a few people away.
The art by Tsubasa Fukuchi is simple in design. The character art reminds me of shows like One Piece as there is vagueness in a lot of detail. This however is perfect for the many comedic moments that arise throughout the novel. Backgrounds also appear at the appropriate scenes, leading to quite a clean and easy read.
The art is also very consistent in that the character detail doesn't change much at all when the comedy and action scenes occur. As you would expect, speed lines get used a lot in the novel, both for comedic and action reasons. With the story based around these two things, it is very rare to find a page without their use. Some panels however are overused in them, creating a very big mess of lines and sound effects that does not look very appealing. Overall however, Fukuchi has done a fairly good job with the art. The art chosen suits the tone of the story well; however it is definitely not a style that many will enjoy.
Viz manages once again to pull off a reasonably good translation and package for The Law of Ueki. As is the standard for most of Viz's works, the sound effects are given a cartoony font and are slightly enlarged. This would generally be a good idea, considering the story features a lot of comedy. For the most part however, they always seem to be a font size or two bigger than what was required, which also makes some panels look like an uninviting giant mess. The artwork tells the story enough though that you can easily ignore the sound effects if you choose. On the production side, the detail is mostly printed sharply as you would expect. There are a few sections where the shades of grey tend to not show up as well as they should. The back includes a small manga insert from Tsubasa Fukuchi, as well as a few pages of Viz advertisements.
This first instalment of The Law of Ueki has made it very clear about the path the story will take. It also makes it very clear that at the end of it all, an abundance of comedy will not break the Law of shounen. All the trademarks are intact, such as the young male hero, the girl in his life being the one who keeps him in check, the goal to gain godly power, and the fact that he will have to fight everyone else on earth to get it. If you enjoy your shounen stories, or even like a good comedy, then it may be worth checking out The Law of Ueki. There is a lot of promise in the story; however whether it can break the shounen mould enough to do it is something to be seen.
Overall : B-
Story : C+
Art : B
+ Comedic scenes usually hit the mark. Interesting concepts.
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