Saturday, January 28, 2012

Kishimoto Seishi's 666 Satan

Shonen manga, where heros: get introduced, train, face first opponent, train more, face opponent, opponent shows moves not seen before, hero retrains (for years), hero comes back much stronger, face other opponents, defeats them, trains more, and faces main opponent all over again and has happy ending (and gets the girl). A tried and true formula that manga publishers know will sell and pushes on its mangaka to produce.

Naruto, one of the most epic manga, shonen or shojo, ever created. Its name has almost become synonymous with otaku in certain circles (the "narutard"). It is one of the most stereotypical shonen manga and it follows the shonen doctrine down to the smallest detail, and it has made millions, if not billions, of dollars. 

With the success of shonen manga and anime like Naruto and One Piece, it is not surprising that publishers of shonen targeted manga magazines have not become more creative and diverse. What fix what they don't see as broke? That is for the realm of seinen manga and readers can find hundreds of niche genres represented there. 

But getting back on track. What most people don't realize is that there are 2 different Kishimoto mangaka publishing. I actually had no idea until I was at bookoff the other week and saw a manga thats artwork look exactly like Naruto. I pulled it down, saw the Kishimoto name on the label and automatically assumed that it was Kishimoto Masashi. I took a picture of the cover and looked for it when I got back to my place.

I was thrown for a loop when I saw that not only was it a different Kishimoto, it was his younger twin brother. Talk about lack of cultural capital on my part. 

It is a given fact that shonen manga tends to repeat itself not only in themes, but in plot. There is only so many different ways to produce the shonen doctrine without "messing it up". It is also pretty obvious that the Kishimoto brothers have a lot in common. This can be blamed on the fact that they are twins or it can be blamed on the fact that, since they ARE twins, that they probably drew together as kids. As a reader, these similarities can be blatantly obvious and for those who can't see the differences, it does seem like the one that's less famous is coping the more famous. Yet lets me honest, who else hasn't done that?

I will admit that when I first started reading 666 Satan I really had a difficult time separating Jio from Naruto. Character-wise, they are very similar in traits and background. I mean really, they both have an evil monster inside of them, are both orphans, are starving for positive attention and parents, and both have a dream that means people will acknowledge them. It is very easy to compare the 2 characters together and it is VERY easy to say that they are one in the same. I'll admit, that I still think that they are basically the same character, but with subtle differences. The other characters, while can be linked to characters that are in Naruto, can also be linked to characters in any other shounen manga. 

Quite honestly, I was pretty happy with the other characters in this manga. As I stated, they are be connected to characters in Naruto but they are their own characters. Not a one of them is a blatant copy of one though. What they do is achieve many of the same necessary functions for a shounen manga. Kirin is like Jiraiya, but different. Ruby is like Sakura, but different. Ball is not Sasuke. There is no Sasuke in this manga and I liked it better because it that.

Putting characters aside, what really makes these brothers different from each other is the story. All shounen have the same basic plot line and plot points. We got a hero who has untapped potential, add friends and a rival to bring out his competitive nature and one big boss that just keeps getting bigger and you have almost every shounen manga ever created or on the market at the moment. Of course this is a gross generalization, but any reader of manga, especially shounen, knows what I'm talking about. Yet a good shounen can make itself standout by the little differences or reinvention of how they make these plot points and lines work. 

What 666 Satan has going for it is that walks the balance beam that makes it almost turn into "a shounen that could be a seinen if it was developed just a little more". While it follows the shounen doctrine very loyally, it also brings in a much more serious and darker tint to it. I also appreciated the use of Kabbala in  the plot. I can honestly say that I've never read another manga that does that. While it is not the first time Biblical references have been a center point in a manga plot, it is the first time that I feel that it has been used in the way that Kishimoto Seishi has used it.

The ending was surprising and I actually quite like it, I especially like that it is not epicly long like some other shounen manga I could name. I shall not give away the details of the ending because I am trying to be better about how many spoilers I put into this blog. 

Read the manga for yourself and let me know what you think! Or if you've already read it, comment! 

No comments:

Post a Comment