Hyper Rune vol. 1

Hyper Rune vol. 1
 Jesika Brooks  rates it:    

Author/Artist: Tamayo Akiyama
Format: Paperback
Price: $9.99

At first glance, I thought Hyper Rune was a release of one of CLAMP’s earlier titles. As I read the cover, however, I realized that it was just a manga by a former CLAMP artist. Hyper Rune is drawn in the style CLAMP is most known for, a style characterized by huge, watery eyes and flowing, shampoo-ad hair– think X/1999, Magic Knights Rayearth, and perhaps Card Captor Sakura. Despite the artist not being actively “in-house” any more, the quality of the art in Hyper Rune is fantastic.

I might seem awfully quick to comment on the art. Unfortunately for Hyper Rune, the art is the only exceptional part of the manga. The story is excessively convoluted and the humor, while funny at types, mostly falls flat due to tired jokes and overused stereotypes.

To tell the truth, I honestly have no clue as to the plot of Hyper Rune. Everything feels rushed! The cast of characters’ motivations and positions (good? evil? neutral?) are ambigious at best. In the first few pages, a pair of cat-like people steal a candy bar from a little girl, claiming that its barcode holds some secret power. Just as the two are about to get away, a mecha warrior comes to chastise them for stealing candy from a child. There’s a fight scene, and with the exposition out of the way, the manga focuses on its herione: Rune.

Hyper Rune!
Rune is a typical teeange girl whose grandfather sneaks in her room at night to dress her up in elaborate, Rayearth-esque costumes. Morning after morning, she wakes up in cosplay garb, freaks out, changes, and runs off to school without so much as an accusation towards her grandpa’s disturbing behavior. (Note to artist: The grandpa is not endearing, he’s freakin’ creepy.)

So far, so random.

At school, Rune is friends with two twins, the Ibayashi brothers. She’s known them since she was small; since then, they’ve gotten to be quite sexy (and popular in their own right). What she doesn’t know, however, is that they’re moonlighting as mecha heroes and battling hostile aliens–which, as of late, seems to occuring with alarming frequency. As Rune’s grandfather babbles about her destiny as a “Space Queen,” the twins’ scientist father (and acquaintance of Rune’s grandfather) is making sure that they are aware of their own fate.

There are two sets of aliens in Hyper Rune–the (possibly) good and the (obviously) bad. The good aliens change into human forms in order to blend in with Earth’s population. One of the aliens is horrified to be stuck in a weak female body; her buddies just laugh and transform into CLAMP-style bishounen boys. When the lady alien meets up with Rune on her way back from a concert, Rune immediately befriends her (much to her confusion). When the aliens notice a sun-shaped crest on Rune’s wrist, however, the answer becomes clear: Without a doubt, Rune is the Space Queen.

With mecha battles and odd humor and beautiful people (not to mention a cute, fluffy mascot that looks like the lovechild of Kirby and Mokona), Hyper Rune has all the trappings of a hit manga. And, with many, I’m sure it is– it’s certainly nice to look at. The humor hits the mark occasionally, and the characters seem likeable enough. But despite its good points, there’s a fatal flaw: Hyper Rune relies too much on stale ideas.

Hyper Rune!
Hyper Rune is a blend of popular stereotypes. When handled with wit, manga like that can turn into brilliant parody and satire. When handled with questionable taste, it can become a cult-hit oddball. But as it stands, Hyper Rune is too lightweight to be truly entertaining. It’s not predictable, per sé, but I’m not really compelled to follow its odd little plot. Its soap opera cast of characters doesn’t help matters much– unlike other manga that introduce characters slowly, then tug on the readers’ emotions by establishing tragic backstories, Hyper Rune just pops ‘em out like candy from a PEZ dispenser: Here’s the Herione; here’s the Mascot; here’s Pretty-Boy #3.

Furthermore, Hyper Rune desperately wants to be funny. It wants to be a brillant parody of science fiction and mecha; it wants to be a bestseller. (Well, perhaps it doesn’t aim for brilliance–it might just be aiming to weave a good yarn.) But whatever its goal is, it doesn’t quite hit the mark. The clichés and confusing plot contained herein turn me off in a major way. Unless I could somehow manage to borrow a copy, I doubt I’d follow along to see what happens in the second volume.

If I want pretty banality, I can stare at the color bars on my televsion screen. The pictures in Hyper Rune do not justify the price.

Added:  Monday, July 04, 2005

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