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Review: Maoh: Juvenile Remix, Vols. 1-4

What would you do if you were the only person who knew a beloved savior was really a devil? Would you stand up or would you turn away, saying “This is not my problem”? That is the dilemma facing Ando, a seemingly ordinary high school student who possesses a mysterious power. He can make people say anything he is thinking. But after being viciously teased for boasting about his power in elementary school, Ando has made a vow to himself to not get involved in other people’s problems. That vow is challenged, however, when the city where he lives becomes caught between two forces: the money-hungry businessmen who want to develop at the expense of the city’s residents and the mysterious Inukai, the young leader of the vigilante group Grasshopper. Inukai seems to be the answer to everyone’s problems, but Ando sees a very different side of the charismatic man.

Maoh: Juvenile Remix, vols. 1-4
Original Story by Kotaro Isaka; Story and Art by Megumi Osuga
Age Rating: OT/Older Teen/16+
Vol. 1: May 2010, ISBN 978-1-4215-3428-2, 200 pages, $9.99
Vol. 2: August 2010, ISBN 978-1-4215-3429-9, 200 pages, $9.99
Vol. 3: November 2010, ISBN 978-1-4215-3430-5, 192 pages, $9.99
Vol. 4: February 2011, ISBN 978-1-4215-3431-2, 192 pages, $9.99

Osuga’s manga (based on Isaka’s novel) is not quite up to the level of socio-political commentary of series like Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata’s Death Note or Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys (both also published by VIZ), but it’s a really good stab in the right direction. And because it includes more shonen-style action and comedy, there is a chance of it appealing to readers who might be turned off by manga that is more subtle. Few of the characters in Maoh seem to be completely good or completely evil. The corporations only think of the bottom line, but are they wrong to bring in new development and, either way, does that justify what Inukai does to them? Inukai’s methods are brutal, but he does have a point about the ruination of the city. An assassin is also given his own depth of character and even protagonist Ando isn’t excused from having faults. The plot is layered and convoluted, but Osuga and Isaka keep things moving along quickly, so readers don’t have a chance to feel lost. The subplot about people such as Ando who have amazing mental abilities isn’t a distraction. Instead it is fitted nicely into the main story, giving the tale a slight remove from realism which will attract fans of works such as Kentaro Yabuki’s Black Cat (also VIZ).

Osuga’s art is filled with dramatic pronouncements, crazily dressed characters, and lots of movement lines to highlight the exciting, but easy-to-follow action sequences. To fit with the shonen model, she also includes a few panty shots, some gigantic breasts, and a good dose of violence. But despite the panty shots and breasts, the women in Maoh are not treated as less intelligent or important than the men. And the violence is appropriate for both the OT rating and for the storyline. Isaka’s story allows Osuga to draw moments that will shock readers and moments that will touch their hearts. She handles both with skill. Though the enigmatic covers and title won’t give away much to catch the attention of potential readers, the vibrant art and exciting story should grab them by the end of volume one. Four volumes in and I still want to know what’s going to happen next! Luckily for libraries who are nervous about adding another long series to already overburdened shelves, Maoh: Juvenile Remix is complete in ten volumes. This nice mix of thought-provoking and action is a solid choice for teen collections.

This review is based on a complimentary copy supplied by the publisher. All images copyright © VIZ Media LLC.

Snow Wildsmith About Snow Wildsmith

Snow Wildsmith is a writer and former teen librarian. She has served on several committees for the American Library Association/Young Adult Library Services Association, including the 2010 Michael L. Printz Award Committee. She reviews graphic novels for Booklist, ICv2's Guide, No Flying No Tights, and Good Comics for Kids and also writes booktalks and creates recommended reading lists for Ebsco's NoveList database. Currently she is working on her first books, a nonfiction series for teens.

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