Friday, March 18, 2016

Final Fantasy Type-0 Side Story Vol. #1 Manga Review

People need our help...and it's a cadet's job to give it!

Creative Staff:
Art: Takatoshi Shiozawa
Story: Hiroki Chiba
Scenario Writer: Sara Okabe
Character Design: Tetsuya Nomura
Translation: Alethea and Athena Nibley
Lettering: Lys Blakeslee

What They Say:
Kurasame is a man touched by destiny and tragedy. Serving as commander of the elite military academy Vermillion Peristylium's Class Zero, he will rise to become one of the Four Champions of Rubrum and the Reaper of the Icy Blade. But what will be the fate of the soul feared by all as the Ice Reaper...?

The Review:
Content: (Please note that the content portion of the review may contain spoilers)
Remember that time several moons ago when I reviewed the Final Fantasy Type-0 manga adaptation (If you can even call it that) and basically compared the thing to a decomposing pile of garbage? Well, good news everyone, this spinoff series isn't! In fact, it's actually pretty darn good. But just what makes it so much different than the original Type-0 manga? Well, for starters, this one isn't condensed into a single volume. Now, I know what you're thinking, "It's already better!" But just wait, there's more!

Type-0's side story manga follows the angsty teen life of Kurasame, Class Zero's commanding officer, back when he was just a cadet. With big dreams of becoming an actual soldier, Kurasame has a hard time fitting in with the rest of his classmates who seem like they're just in it to have fun. In the midst of his cold-hearted dismissiveness, he is reluctantly persuaded into joining in on one of the class's "Tests of courage" slated to take place inside some random cave somewhere in Rubrum. But shortly after the games begin, things start to get...well, pretty damn terrible.

After his walky-talky starts malfunctioning, Kurasame and several other of the cadets who stayed behind go to investigate the cause of the staticky disturbance. But when they arrive at one of the test's checkpoints, they are greeted by the horrendous sight of nearly their entire class ripped to shreds at the hands of Concordian rogue soldiers. However, one girl, the black-haired and bubbly Miwa, is still conscious and clinging to life amidst the carnage. Feeling a sense of urgency that he's never felt before, Kurasame decides that he must fight in order to avenge the group of students that he took far too long to learn to appreciate. Fueled by rage, Kurasame slaughters one of the Concordian soldiers and her weird crystalline monster things that she had used to kill the bulk of Class 3.

Without giving away the rest of what goes on in the cave (Which consumes the vast majority of the first volume), I will say that each and every event that took place within it is absolutely penultimate in determining the futures of the remaining cadets. Even more depressing is the fact that the few who survived will not even be acknowledged for what they actually did, but instead just surviving. In the world of Type-0, people are incapable of feeling remorse for the deceased. Those who pass away have all of the memories linked to them wiped away from the minds of anyone they have come across. Because of this, the survivors of Class 3 can't even mourn the deaths of their friends and must, instead, find a way to move on. But that is easier said than done for some of the cadets.

Concordia and Rubrum are supposed to have a truce at this moment in time. The fact that Concordian rogues would so blatantly slaughter cadets of Akademia would be provocative of war. So, in order to avoid said war, Akademia decides that it is imperative to have the happenings of the test of courage kept secret from the Concordian government. This, of course, means that there would be no justice brought to the graves of the dead students and that Concordia would remain unpunished. Obviously, Class 3 isn't exactly grateful to hear this. But, perhaps the worst part of it all, is that just weeks after their class is annihilated, they receive a mission to aid Concordian civilians from incoming monster attacks. Will Kurasame and the rest of his class be able to set aside their recent experiences in order to help the same people that killed their friends?

In Summary:
The Type-0 side story literally dwarfs the single-volume Type-0 manga. Instead of dedicating itself to pleasing fans of the Type-0 game, it exists on its own and has an entirely different story to tell that still possesses all of the things that made the game shine. The imagery is dark and disturbing and throughout the entire volume, there is a looming sense of fear and suspense that constantly drives you toward the next page. The characters [that survive] are not the most original (Apart from Kurasame) but are still likable nonetheless. I have a feeling that character development in this series is going to be the highlight, but with a story and dark and brooding as this one, I would not be surprised to have development surpassed by the overall narrative. Final Fantasy Type-0 is a hyperdramatic piece of the Final Fantasy world that I would consider essential to all fans of the brand. I have high hopes for this series and am looking forward to reviewing the next installment in the near future.

Content Grade: B+
Art Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B
Text/Translation Grade: B+

Age Rating: 16+
Released By: Yen Press
Release Date: July 21, 2015
MSRP: $12.99

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