Monday, July 19, 2010

Manga Monday: Hyde & Closer

Hyde & Closer (Volume 1)
Haro Aso

13-year-old Closer Shunpei has a rough time in school.  He's clumsy, distracted, ridiculed by his classmates on a daily basis and just not very good at anything.  But Closer is the grandson of powerful magician Alsyd Closer, who disappeared six years ago.  And with Alsyd out of the way now and his power waning, magical practitioners all over the world seek the power that has been passed down through his bloodline to his grandson, and seek his beating heart for the power that it can pass along to them.  And he thought school was bad. Thankfully, his grandfather presented Closer with a stuffed teddy bear named Hyde when last he saw him, and as Closer is attacked by a killer doll animated by an evil sorcerer, Hype leaps into action, protecting Closer and helping him defeat his adversary.  Since Closer's pursuers are never going to stop coming for him, Hyde begins to teach Closer how to use magic himself, the chief power lying in his own belief and confidence in himself and his abilities, something that Closer needs a good dose of anyway, and as the first volume proceeds, we see him begin to grow more of a backbone and handle his own in desperate situations.  There's plenty of action in this title, but honestly, it's never very effective or suspenseful.  It's often difficult to follow exactly what is supposed to be going on in most of the panels, and some them are literally little more than blurs.  With Hyde being a cute (cigar smoking) teddy bear, it seems that Aso only sees fit to pit Hyde and Closer against toys, which aren't all that frightening (or thoughtfully designed), even with the added bonus of powers.  It gets stale by the time the third doll rolls around, controlled by yet another lame villain.  Hyde & Closer isn't very suspenseful either.  Each doll has its own complicated rules for whatever "death curse" they are being used for, whether it's a locked room or tendrils of killer hair, and the "rules" that they must follow, like the jack-in-the-box who pops out of anything that can be opened in the locked room, just keep coming, so if you think something's impossible to overcome, another rule will be thrown in to conveniently let Closer and Hyde overcome their adversary.  Magic is just too easy when limits aren't set from the beginning, and while there's something to be said for variety, throwing so many elements out there with each doll they face, it just gets too bogged down in the details that aren't fun or frankly, very exciting to read.

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