World War Blue, Vol. 1

By Anastasia Shestakova and Crimson. Released in Japan as ‘Aoi Sekai no Chūshin de’ by Micro Magazine, serialized on a mobile service. Released in North America by Seven Seas.

I wasn’t quite sure what to expect of this series going in. Its author is supposedly Russian (though that feels like a pen name), and it originally ran in Japan, as far as I can tell, as a cellphone manga. Those are a lot bigger there than they are here, and it’s gotten up to nine volumes. The gimmick, as it were, is that this is a shonen fantasy re-imagining of the console wars between Sega and Nintendo in the 1980s, with our heroes on the Sega side battling the evil Nintendo Empire. (I do admit this does not look good for our heroes, if we stick to established history…) I know a little bit about gaming, but not much. So how confusing would this title be to me?


The answer is not very. Honestly, if it weren’t for the obvious Kingdom names – “Segua” vs. “Ninteldo” – and the author’s interspersed notes giving a brief history of gaming in the 80s, I may not even have noticed the metaphor. The leads are supposed to represent a different game – Gear, the hero, is Sonic the Hedgehog; his childhood friend Nel is Phantasy Star 2; his tsundere love interest Opal is Fantasy Zone, etc. I didn’t know this until the notes told me. More importantly, these are stock shonen characters – the author even admits she created Gear to be a shonen manga role model, and that he is.

Because when it gets right down to it, this isn’t really for fans of computer games as much as it is fans of Fairy Tail. Gear is a fast fighter who wants to avenge the death of his friend. He goes to the capital city and joins the army by means of simply defeating everyone in it. Opal is even more stock character, immediately hating and challenging the young man who appears out of nowhere, but falling for him the second she is defeated. Even the perverse mentor who shows our heroes how to get stronger while constantly making suggestive remarks feels right out of Dragon Ball.

This has the feel of a Magazine title more than Jump, mostly due to the sexual overtones. There’s actually very little fanservice so far (much to my surprise), but the aforementioned perverse mentor (who’s meant to be Tetris, I think) keeps talking about plugging the gaping holes in everyone’s defenses with his rod, and also gropes the heroine to teach her a lesson after she’s magically exhausted. And the army commander, Ramses (she’s meant to be Columns, I guess?) gets sexually aroused seeing Gear fight (we see her naked, in the one piece of fanservice in the volume) and is describes as having ‘unspeakable hobbies’. But again, these types of sexualized ‘guy jokes’ would not be out of place in Magazine or Champion.

In all honesty, this is pretty generic shonen. I’m interested in seeing how Ninteldo (which is, of course, led by Mario) looks once we see them in action as more than just evil guys. That said, I am totally behind Seven Seas licensing this and putting out more of it, for one very good reason: it’s nothing like anything else they publish. Seven Seas is trying to expand a bit away from their mainstay market of ‘otaku fanboys’, as we’ve seen with the female-oriented Alice spinoffs. This is another step in that direction, showing off a series that appeals to the shonen boy in all of us; a young man vowing to fight for his country against the bad guys, using powerful moves. Let’s see how Gear can differentiate himself from Luffy or Natsu.

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  1. I think you mean 90s console wars, the first Sonic game came out in 1991. And oh man, please tell me his “dead friend” is Alex Kidd! But yeah, I need to check this out, how could I not? I’d love to see how many obscure video game references I could get, since I am into gaming. I am glad to hear that it’s not alienating otherwise and the video game references might be more like where’s waldo, those are my favorite kind of references (Wreck-it Ralph used that technique very well if you ask me)
    Seven Seas does publish Witch Buster (formerly Hunter), that’s shonen. They advertise it on the back for Soul Eater and FMA fans. It’s pretty good.

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