Musashi #9 vol. 1
Mike Toole rates it:
Author: Takahashi Miyuki
I like CMX’s willingness to shop for a diversity of titles. They’ve delved into the 70s for shoujo comics like Swan, unearthed cheesy treasures like From Eroica with Love, and sniffed out 1987’s high-octane shonen chestnut Madara, all while keeping an eye to recent hits like Gals! and Tenjho Tenge. Musashi #9 falls neatly into that strategy; it’s a 1996 outing that offers an unusual flavor of action and weird romance, all told in strictly episodic chunks.
In the wake of the Cold War, hundreds of small conflicts and problems cropped up. The governments of the world’s various nations can’t contain the problem themselves, nor can the United Nations. That’s okay, though, because there’s a second United Nations, a shadow organization devoted to truth, justice, and… uh, truth called Ultimate Blue. Ultimate Blue is anchored by a team of nine special agents, men and women with skills, training, and intelligence that could allow any one of them to affect the fate of the entire world. How, you ask, will the reader know all of this? Easy! It’s repeated, almost verbatim, in every single story in this volume. Disparate characters will utter the same phrases to describe Ultimate Blue in several different stories, reminding me of that dusty old episode of Ultra Seven where several different characters keep complaining about “unknown saboteurs… from space!” using that exact phrase every single time.
Musashi #9‘s title character is a member of that secret organization, and through this first volume, she periodically appears to rescue those in need and stamp out the forces of evil in high style. This is pretty traditional cloak and dagger stuff, only made unusual by its domestic Japanese setting (the better to reel in the casual reader, I’d venture) and the character of Musashi herself. Despite being a deadly secret agent of the highest order, she’s a teenaged girl– a girl who, in fact, is constantly mistaken for a boy. This sort of turns into the title’s running gag– all four stories in this volume involve Musashi, fresh from rescuing her charges, glibly informing them that she is, in fact, female.
That’s exactly what’s wrong with Musashi #9. It’s hobbled by a story that gets stale almost immediately, yet is repeated over and over again. Each of the book’s stories play out almost identically– a person is threatened or kidnapped, and Musashi arrives to overwhelm the opposition, who certainly don’t expect interference from an adolescent. Details change– in one story, the victim is a high school girl, while in another, it’s a scientist and his son– but otherwise it’s all the same.
On top of that, creator Takahashi Miyuki does very little to make the stories or artwork stand out. The artistry is competent, but Musashi herself has unusually plain features, and most of the secondary characters are difficult to distinguish. And, as repeatedly stated, it’s the same story over and over again.
Musashi #9 is fantasy on a strictly adolescent level. The situations and characters have some familiarity to them– everything takes place at oestensibly ordinary Japanese high schools– but the stories are always wildly unrealistic, told with gusto, signifying nothing much. The series is unappealingly generic, which leads me to conclude that CMX can’t pick winners every time. Oh, well.
Added: Monday, February 28, 2005
Related Link: CMX