Drawn Conclusions – Blade Bunny: A New Hop
Oh. Good. The subtitle’s a pun. Y’know, it’d be funnier if the book had even the slightest parallel to A New Hope at all. But nope. Just a pun. Well, let’s see if the rest of the books is any funnier, shall we?
*1 hour, and 120+ pages later*
…Well, crap, it is. And now I look like a jerk. Um… Blade Bunny, everyone!
“The Hare: a ninja assassin whispered about with fear in the darkest corners. A killer known for ruthlessness and cunning… is not in this book. Meet Bunny – a pretty ninja girl who likes rainbows, dancing, and eviscerating bad people when they blink. Hmm… maybe this book is about The Hare, after all.”
Characters & Tone
I’ll just open with this. The titular character, Bunny, is somehow simultaneously awesome and insufferable. She’s just so obnoxious and petty, but she’s… she’s just… good lord, she’s funny. There really isn’t enough to go in in just the first volume to tell if she’s actually a total airhead or not, but she’s clearly good at what she does. If she’s an idiot who just happens to be a godly talented ninja, then I’m okay with that. What would probably push her over the edge on the annoying side would be if she was also useless. Thankfully, that isn’t the case. Other characters aren’t constantly getting her out of stuff. She actually manages fairly well on her own, and it’s nice to see. I’ve made it no secret that I’m just not a fan of ineffectual morons as far as characters go. Luckily if she is a moron, she’s at least a moron with her uses.
Then there’s Kyoto, who is her polar opposite, as far as personality goes. She doesn’t really do much in the first volume, but she’s clearly the more levelheaded, and serious of the pair. She’s brought in fairly early on to act as Bunny’s guide, and partner, for what I can only assume is the remainder of the series. Kyoto’s more demure nature is a nice contrast to the hyperactive, unabashed Bunny, and it shows in their interactions. The woman could stand to lighten up a little, but her reactions to Bunny’s antics, I think, are fairly reasonable. Heaven knows I’d grow tired of her quickly, in real life. Kyoto seems keen on trying to get Bunny to act in a tamer, more socially acceptable manner. Doesn’t seem to work out very well, but there’s a scene in a tavern that I think establishes their dynamic rather well. They’re basically the Odd Couple. I do like the teases of Kyoto’s past. Without saying much, the woman’s clearly scarred by whatever happened to her, prior to the life she’s living at the time of her introduction. And this sheltered life has had a noteworthy impact on how she reacts to the outside world. What happened to her, specifically, isn’t really delved into, but… it definitely wasn’t pleasant. Also, she has quite the interesting set of skills and abilities, but I’ll just leave it at that.
As far as tone goes, the first volume’s pretty heavy on the laughs. The humor extends to more than just Bunny, although the vast majority of it is people reacting to her. What sells the humor the most, however, is very likely the “timing.” The comic makes very good use of its space. When a joke requires a setup, it’s very calculated in the panels to get to the punchline, right down to how much text is in each panel. As such, it makes those jokes funnier. Meanwhile, during action scenes, there’s still plenty of humor. One of the earlier actions scenes involves Bunny trying all of the stereotypical means of defeating a certain kind of adversary, and it’s perhaps the funniest part of the book for me, though the action doesn’t full stop in order to do it, like so many comics and manga tend to. There is also a tendency for the more intense moments to be coated with a thin layer of humor, yet it doesn’t detract from the dire nature of the situation, which is really difficult to pull off. With other stories, and other characters, joking about a grievous wound or bad situation can have the effect of minimizing the danger. But because Bunny’s so naturally eccentric, her reactions to similar situations don’t have the same effect, which is good.
Plot… right… yeah, there really isn’t much in this department yet. Which isn’t a bad thing. I tend to like it when the time is taken on setting up the characters first, unless you’re working with a large ensemble cast (as I tend to do in my own works). Bunny is on a mission to retrieve an artifact that can save the world (this world, anyway), all while she’s being hunted by “metal demons” out to kill her because… reasons. Nothing startlingly fresh or original, but it’s adequate for what the book is, and seems to be going for – a parody of the ninja assassin archetype.
The art, by Erwin Prasetya, is excellent. The manga style really suits the book’s overall theme and world. The facial expressions, in particular, really carry the sense of humor quite well. The character design for Bunny is also quite brilliant, saying pretty much everything one would need to know about her. She doesn’t dress that way because the series is ignorant to how actual figures of her profession dressed. She dresses that way because she couldn’t care less about that, and it just suits her personality. It also helps her stand out, which makes sense, being that she’s the main character.
If there’s one point I have to bring up, however, it’s in the action. The series is ultimately an action/comedy. And the first half of that is where it unfortunately falls short. Not always, mind you, but the art doesn’t quite get the job done when it comes to certain action sequences. When it comes to something this high-action, you expect to legitimately feel like every panel is actually moving. To clarify, there are essentially two ways in comics and manga to do action. There’s what I’ll just call the “Motion” route, and then there’s the “Snapshot” route. In the former, action is depicted essentially as it’s in motion. This is generally something you’ll see with highly physical characters, whose action tends to be fast-paced. Like Spider-Man, the Flash, or pretty much every fight of Dragon Ball Z. But then there’s the “Snapshot” route, in which the action is instead achieved by making a number of panels depict key movements within the fight. Sometimes the two methods overlap (most often in stories where the action lends itself to brief pauses for characters to think or do something out of the flow of the fight). This comic is going for the “Motion” route. How can you tell? Because when fighting is happening, things are constantly moving. The problem is that the art has a way of, at times, just looking rather stiff. As such, that motion it’s going for isn’t coming across as well. Now, there are some scenes where the actions is moving very fluidly. But there are enough scenes where that isn’t the case that I thought I should bring it up. Also, there were a couple of panels in which is was a tad bit difficult to tell what was happening at first glance. It wasn’t an especially prominent issue, but worth mentioning.
Setting, World, Concept
It’s ye olde Japan. And I only say that because I’ve no idea what era, specifically, they were emulating. That’s by no fault of the book, though. I’m just not a history buff, and never have been. What I can say is that this is ye olde Japan, except yokai are most definitely a thing. Yokai and all manner of other creatures, really. This isn’t used to something that’s terribly prominent until a little over halfway through the book, but you eventually learn that demons are a thing in this world, apparently, as are dragons (at least the Eastern variety), and other creatures that clearly ain’t human.
Overall if you read this… I mean… just look at the title and cover art. You know what you’re getting. It’s a riotous parody of the ninja assassin archetype. It thankfully has an amusing sense of humor, nice artwork, and plants enough seeds for future books that it manages to hold your interest for the next one. Would I recommend it? Certainly! If only for the laughs, it’s definitely worth the read. But if you’re more interested in plot and character, I’d say to wait until a later volume and just binge through it, as I’m sure it gets around to those things later, given the amount of time it spends setting them up. Check it out if you think it sounds like it might be up your alley. With all that said, ladies and gents, thanks for reading.
Keep up the awesome, and take care