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Review

by Rebecca Silverman,

Big Order

GN 1

Synopsis:
Big Order GN 1
Ten years ago, a mysterious being calling herself Daisy began granting people's wishes by giving them strange powers. Called “Orders,” these abilities lead to the total restructuring of society…and the near-destruction of the world when a little boy named Eiji accidentally let his Order go out of control. Now Eiji refuses to use his Order and doesn't even fully recall what it does; all he wants is for his terminally ill sister to live out her remaining life in peace. But people have found out that Eiji is the one responsible for the disaster ten years ago, and they're not going to let him be – he's about to become their pawn in a game for the fate of the world.
Review:

Big Order is the third of Sakae Esuno's manga to be released in English, and readers may have noticed a trend: with each series, the story gets more complicated and bizarre as the storytelling gets looser. The basic themes within Big Order are certainly interesting and engaging; it is the almost haphazard way that Esuno presents them that is the issue.

The story revolves around high school boy Eiji Hoshimiya. Ten years ago, he was a fan of a TV show called “Evil Ranger” about a character who was willing to be perceived as “evil” in order to protect those he cared about. Being a child, Eiji didn't fully understand the premise or the characters, and so when a mysterious being named Daisy, who calls herself a fairy, appears and grants him one wish, he wishes to take over the world. Because of his age and the sudden onset of his new supernatural powers, Eiji accidentally destroys portions of the Earth, resulting in massive casualties and widespread panic. He's also far from the only person to have had a wish “granted” by Daisy; the existence of these people with a power known as an Order contributes to the reshaping of world society that Eiji's destruction began.

When the main action of the story starts, Eiji is in high school and has not used his powers since the destruction. He carries a heavy burden of guilt for his unwitting actions, made all the worse by the fact that not only did it kill his father and stepmother, but it also made it harder to get treatment for his younger stepsister's terminal blood illness. Now all he wants to do is allow his sister to live out her life in comfort, and no amount of urging from Daisy can induce him to think about his powers, much less to use them. Sadly, for him, the rest of Japan has no such compunctions, and a group of Order users kidnaps him to force him to become the face of their bid for world domination. This is made all the easier for them by the fact that he has such an obvious weakness: kidnap his sister as well, and there's very little he won't do to help her.

This is about where the story begins to go off the rails. Esuno introduces a slew of named (and Ordered) characters in quick succession and throws Eiji into the world domination plot without much fanfare, which means that the world of the story is barely explained. We don't know until the so-called Ten Hands who are in charge of Eiji's area show up that Japan as essentially ceased to exist as a sovereign nation because of the destruction ten years ago, much less that there are people who chafe at this. Their apparently abrupt decision to make Eiji the face of their revolution also feels bizarre, since no one but them is aware that he was the cause of the disaster and people can only take their word for it. Add to this that Eiji's power does not appear to be actually capable of destroying much of anything once he begins to use it again: it's the ability to manipulate anything within his “domain,” which would make it seem highly unlikely that he could cause mass destruction in, for example, countries around the world he'd never been to or heard of. (Does that mean that someplace like Estonia, which a ten-year-old in Japan wouldn't be likely to know about, escaped unscathed?) It all feels very random and a little too plot-convenient to make the story really work.

Another issue is that virtually only Eiji is remotely likable as a character. Nearly everyone else is two-faced or manipulative, and the major exception to that, Iyo, is so utterly naïve as to be ridiculous. Granted, sex education is not equal throughout the world, but you'd think that by the time she hit puberty she'd have figured out that when her father told her that if a boy touched her she'd immediately have a baby, he was lying. On the other hand, Iyo does make for a good example of how the Orders are based on characters' emotions in the moment and therefore powered by belief. Her “pregnancy” may be foreshadowing for how the Orders can manipulate their users, which could have some interesting implications for the story going ahead.

Perhaps the biggest issue character-wise is Rin, who serves as a reminder that you should never trust the pink/red-haired girl in a Sakae Esuno manga. It would not be unfair to compare her to Future Diary's Yuno Gasai in terms of her mental/emotional instability, although she is dead-set on killing Eiji, despite the fact that his Order has rendered that fully impossible. This makes Rin more of an annoyance than a useful character, as we can predict her every act: she'll say she'll help, turn around, and fruitlessly try to kill Eiji, at which point she'll die and her powers of resurrection will bring her back. This is a cycle we see repeated endlessly over the course of the two volumes in this first omnibus, and it really does get pretty stale.

That may be one of the biggest issues with Big Order: it somehow feels very much like we've been here and read this story before. The gang of superpowered misfits out to remake the world in their own image can be a fun story, but that requires the misfits to be engaging characters and for them to have a clear reason for taking over. As far as the story thus far has let us know, there's no actual reason for them to want to rule the world other than sheer ambition: no one seems to be repressing them or stigmatizing them in any way. In fact, some Order users appear to be very well liked and respected by their communities. This makes it look like everyone except Eiji is suffering from Special Snowflake Syndrome and robs the story of any real urgency to its plot.

Big Order's initial omnibus is therefore something of a disappointment. The powers are interesting, Daisy's clearly got something going on that is at least a little shady, and Esuno's art can be very dynamic and makes good use of page set up. But the characters and their motivations are largely weak and the story's world is underdeveloped. Maybe things will become more cohesive as the story moves forward, but as it stands, Big Order just isn't making its story work.

Grade:
Overall : C-
Story : C-
Art : B-

+ Good use of page layouts, Eiji has some intelligent moments, Daisy's unknown machinations could make the plot work eventually
Too many characters introduced too quickly and none of them are sympathetic, story's world goes unexplained, group's motivations don't quite make sense

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Production Info:
Story & Art: Sakae Esuno

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Big Order (manga)

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Big Order (GN 1)

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