Rating: 4/5 – A Video Game Manga Gets It Right By Not Denying What It Is
by ComicSpectrum reviewer Al Sparrow
Manga…heck, anything…based off a video game property can be hit or miss. If you’re not faithful enough to the source material, you isolate the original fanbase. If you’re too faithful, one wonders why you even bothered in the first place. It’s such a lose-lose proposition that sometimes I wonder why anyone would even bother trying. Then Dragon’s Crown comes along and reminds me that every now and then, someone gets it right.
The game itself has a pretty devoted following. Fans of Atlus and Vanillaware already know what readers of this book are about to find out: it’s all about the fun. EVERYthing in this book is pushed to ridiculous extremes, and we can start with the obvious – the women. While each character – the Fighter, the Wizard, the Amazon, the Sorceress, the Elf, and the Dwarf (no real names are ever used) – follow the various archetypical designs for their class (the elf has pointed ears, the dwarf has a huge beard, etc.), the female characters put the “extreme” in extreme. The Amazon, for example, balances beauty and grace with a muscular body that even a female bodybuilder would say pushes it beyond believability. And the Sorceress…oh god, the Sorceress…impossibly manages to stand upright despite the obvious pull gravity must have upon her. All this, of course, is nothing you won’t see in the video game, but artist/writer Yuztan captures it brilliantly and brings it to the printed page with a skill you really need to experience for yourself, pushing it all to the limit with high contrast inks and expert use of graytone. Yes, it’s extreme. Yes, it’s ridiculous. Yes, it’s extremely ridiculous…but at the same time, I haven’t seen artwork this good in a long time. There’s a reason Udon was a good fit as a publisher for this series – they produce a number of very nice artbooks focusing on video game art.
Plotwise, the book reads as if you were playing the video game. Though there are six characters, only four of them go out exploring in each chapter, leaving the other two “back at the Dragon’s Haven Inn” for a comical endcap… usually bemoaning the fact they were left behind or breaking the fourth wall. The Sorceress, for example, whines that she was left out of the first expedition despite being “the obvious sex appeal character.” The humor blends well with the action, as these characters don’t quite grasp they’re in a video game yet know something is up. It’s that occasional wink to the reader that gives a book that might otherwise have been “just one more video game adaptation” an edge.
If you hadn’t figured it out, this book is obviously not for kids. I’m not even sure it’s appropriate for some adults I know, but if you like your breasts huge, your muscles sinewy and over-defined, and your humor going hand-in-hand with the action, this book is well worth a look. I will put some fair warning that it ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, so if you get into it, be prepared to pick up volume two when it hits. That said, if you read the book all the way through to that ending, you’ll likely be so hooked you’ll have no problem picking up the next one. Dragons Crown was great for all the wrong reasons but it got me to buy the video game!
Reviewed by: Al Sparrow (email@example.com)
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