Thursday, February 4, 2010

Manga Review: Fate/Stay Night Volume 6

Fate/Stay Night was one hell of a show. The series hit America a couple years ago as a Geneon licensed anime, but since then has fallen into FUNimation's hands for distribution. Thank goodness, because this is one franchise that absolutely should not fall into obscurity. While the animated line was a success, the book form has been doing well for itself too. Tokyopop has been translating and releasing the manga for a while now and recently the sixth installment hit store shelves.

In case you're unfamiliar with the series it all follows the exploits of a young man named Shiro. He unwittingly comes to posses something known as a Magic Circuit and becomes embroiled in events far greater than he ever could have imagined. Basically there is magic out there and people with this skill can summon beings known as Servants, who fight for their masters in an effort to win the battle for the Holy Grail. There's more to it than that, but part of the joy of this series is uncovering some of the basics. All you really need to know is that Shiro doesn't want anyone to fight and die. He commands his servant, Saber, to spare life whenever possible and does what he can to ensure that he is able to take care of himself. In the sixth installment what he has learned and his ideals are put to the test.

At the start of this volume Tosaka and Archer are locked in battle with Shinji and Rider. There's a big bad barrier up around the school and Shinji is up to some dark, demented things to he has to be stopped. While their battle wages on for some time, Shiro and Saber eventually step in to attempt a resolution to the fighting and make Shinji see the error of his ways. Naturally this doesn't happen. Rider and Saber battle it out while Tosaka feels betrayed by Shiro. The battle is put on the afterburner for some time when Rider and Shinji flee, but these events could have lasting ramifications on Shinji's relationship with Tosaka.

Eventually the bits of action pick back up as Shinji makes a move to a much more populated area to cause more damage. Saber and Rider go at it again in a massive fight that sees a lot of destruction, but we get the chance to see Shiro show was he's learned against Shinji. He even gets to the point where he's doing well within the fight, but a surprise attack from Rider changes the tempo a bit. The whole thing ends with a big epic attack that will leave readers wanting to see the resolution in the next installment.

Quite honestly there's not much else that happens in this volume apart from the battle between Shinji, Shiro, and their servants. Because of that it feels like there's very little development. The book also tends to be over before you know it. A few minutes with it will put you at or beyond the halfway point and that's a little disappointing. If you want to savor the book and take in more of the world you're going to have to wait because it's all action from the first page to the last. Not that there's anything wrong with that, really.

Once again the artwork provided by Dat Nishiwaki is absolutely incredible on every single page. All of the character designs pop and you truly get a sense of the action that's taking place here. The backgrounds in particular stand out and there's a great deal of detail in their destruction. The translation is also solid, though in fairness this isn't a particularly wordy installment.

Fate/Stay Night is one of my favorite anime series and the manga stands out at an equal level. Tokyopop has done a great job with the series with their English release, and I can't wait to see what comes in the following installments. With that being said this particular one is all about action and there's very little with regards to actual plot. It's a light read and it's a quick one, but fans of the series will appreciate every panel. This is yet another fine volume and if the book is anything like the anime then it only gets better from here!

Maki Rating:

Review material provided by Tokyopop.

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