No wait, don’t go away, that’s the name of the manga dudes and dudettes. The topic of todays review is this bastardization of heavy metal and dungeons and dragons. All images are copyright of Mr. Kazushi Hagiwara, used for educational purposes, to demonstrate how a few sprinkles of heavy metal isn’t enough to create a decent manga experience.
Mr. Towelhead reviews:
In manga terms the genre is both Seinen (manga for young male adults) and Shönen (manga for male kids), which means its heavily action-packed, has a lot of humor and the story is targeted at males (attractive female cast, male bonding through the fires of combat). Basically, Bastard!! is misogynistic as hell. The writer and illustrator is Kazushi Hagiwara, and he penned the story from 1988 till today (its still being published). In western genre terms its a Post-apocalyptical Fantasy story, heavily influenced by Dungeons and Dragons (the role playing board game from Wizards of the Coast) and while it claims to be influenced by Heavy Metal, what you will actually find is that only names are referred to (if you are a hardcore fan of heavy metal you may discover more than just name references in the manga).
The concept of the story is almost a Dungeons and Dragons campaign around an egocentric world conquering bastard who’s defeated and forced to live in a lesser, mortal body that ultimately teaches him to become an egocentric word conquering bastard who now happens to fight for the good guys.
The “hero”, Dark Schneider is James Bond in a fantasy world. He wins every single fight and all women in the entire universe want to mate with him, regardless of the circumstances or allegiance. “James Schneider” makes up for a good laugh in the first volume, unfortunately the same joke doesn’t get funnier with repetition.
Dark Schneider in his egomaniac glory :P
On a side note, no matter how (ugly) sweated, blood and entrails covered our “dashing” hero maybe, girls just can’t resist his sexual advances. I mean, obviously, just look at him!?
The story has a legit decent beginning, even the hint of a moral behind it. A crazy dude with immense power wants to conquer the world, he’s defeated and his soul is bound to the body of a child. And so the life of innocence teaches our hero (more like anti-hero) to care for people. Specially a girl who’s fond of the little child. All goes well until the former allies of our crazed anti-hero return from hiding to finish the job of conquering the world. And so the good guys have to release Dark Schneider (anti-hero) from his slumber to fight for good against his former allies. Sounds great! Right?
Oh look, the world ends… again.
Catastrophic events happen SO often they bare no meaning.
Unfortunately the story becomes diluted in a sea of characters, plots, subplots and redundancy. People die but are resurrected, bad guys become good guys, really bad guys turn out to be brain washed, monsters become angels, the world ends and changes, quite a few times by the way. All sense of tension that may have risen is destroyed as nothing of consequences ever happens (at least not for long).
Hagiwara has a unique style to his drawings and it makes sense in this dark fantasy saga. Its not a master piece, but its not crappy. It just is. What race, weapon and monster design have to do, they are very, heavily influenced by standards of western fantasy and, as mentioned before, Dungeons and Dragons. And H. R. R. Giger, you know, the guy who made aliens.
Its hard not to see Giger’s influnece. Mmmm….
What the magic department has to do, the illustrations and dialogues (the enchanted words that need to be spoken) are actually REALLY neat. It’s a cool blend of heavy metal lyrics, fantasy concepts and the illustrations of said spells together with the chaos and destruction brought forth by them. Its simply AWESOME!
What really drove me away from the story was the James Bond complex. No matter how powerful a foe may be, at the end our anti-hero will simply get tired of faking to be at par with said foe and finally do an overkill spell and win the battle. EVERY SINGLE FUC**** TIME. And every time a new foe appears, he seems to have the edge over our anti-hero. And every time, the useless comrades stand aside describing the battle like football commentators. And every time, guess what, James Schneider wins. BOOOOOORING!
Oh no… look at that a giant, something, guess who’s going to win this time… YAWN
The biggest problem with Bastard!! are expectations. Because its been alive for so long it has generated quite some noise and the story at the beginning hints at a really cool one. Wrong expectations. However you should take Bastard!! for what it is, a semi-decent misogynic fantasy story with throwbacks at heavy metal and western fantasy culture. At the beginning you will laugh a lot and as the story progresses the jokes will become lame (repetitive) and so will the action scenes.
In the end, no matter how you enter the Bastard!! experience, you will be disappointed
5 / 10
If Bastard!! is like, your first manga EVER, it may be a little more entertaining, perhaps even a neat inspiration to write/draw your own stuff.
P.D. Bastard!! tried to be more interesting by adding some “scientific” explanations to magic, like references to thermodynamics in fire spells. But like other mangas it’s really hard to take such things seriously in a dark fantasy world with a James Bond-ish hero. Another “plot-thing” thrown at us to “make Bastard!! more interesting” was a reference to God as an evil “thing” that doesn’t like change, and because humans change he destroyed us, and brought about this new post-apocalytpical world. I mean SERIOUSLY, God doesn’t like change?, is that the best the author could conjure? Lame.