1 World Manga

 1WOM   (Viz, 2005)

™ and © 2006 Viz
A joint project of Viz Media, LLC and The World Bank; b&w.

Teenager Rei, a homeless street kid with dreams of being the world’s greatest martial artist, rescues an abused puppy from its tormentors. In fairytale fashion, the “puppy” turns out to be a mystical being that wants to reward Rei but, instead of wishes, agrees to become his trainer. Rather than being schooled in kung fu, Rei is sent on a round the world trip to learn how to help those in need. Here, he deals with poverty in Africa.

This Viz/World Bank co-production is well-intentioned, but, given the importance of the project, it would’ve been nice if Viz could’ve recruited a stronger creative team. Still, it’s possible the target audience of teens won’t mind the simplistic mock-manga art or the awkward way it blends goofy comedy and serious subjects (going from madcap antics to spousal abuse in a little over a page).

Likewise, the small, thin format offering 40 pages (several of which are devoted to “learn more about it” articles in the back) for $3.99 makes for a perfect impulse purchase.

— S. A. Bennett

From the Publisher:

Fifteen-year-old Rei survives by his wits and guts on the mean streets of the world. His fortunes take a strange turn when he meets a trainer wielding some powerful transformational magic who offers to coach him to achieve his dream of becoming the greatest martial artist in the world! But it seems Rei’s trainer is more interested in developing his mind, spirit and—ugh!—heart than his thrashing, raging, fighting moves! The stakes get higher when Rei meets a young woman fighting just to survive! Can Rei vanquish the specter of poverty…?

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#1

  9/1/2005
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