Creator: Hiromoto-Sin-Ichi
Translation: Christine Schilling
Adaptation: Aaron Sparrow
Publisher: TokyoPop
Age Rating: All Ages
Genre: Action
RRP: $9.99
STONe v1
Reviewed by Kelvin Green

You know, opening a book with a note from the editor explaining the concept of a desert planet is probably not the best start. I'm sure that someone who specifically picks this book out from the shelves and shelves of manga available today probably has a fair idea of the concepts involved. And there is that Star Wars movie. Set on a desert planet? Main character is a moisture farmer? I'm sure enough of the manga audience are familiar with that one. And how about letting the creator explain it via the story itself? "Show, don't tell" I think they call it...

To be fair, some of the ideas here are a bit offbeat. Yes it's a desert planet, but the sand is more like quicksand than anything, so it's possible to swim in it, and people travel across it on boat-like vehicles, and so on. But all of this is conveyed effectively through the art and the script so that introduction really rubbed me the wrong way. When the editor starts explaining that one of the ships looks a bit like Boba Fett's starship because the artist likes Star Wars and wanted to put a homage in, I almost started banging my head against the wall. I mean, is the manga audience so stupid that they need the concept of a homage explained to them? Let's get this guy a job on Alan Moore's Top 10. That should keep him busy for a while...

Look at that, two paragraphs discussing the foreword. Great. So the book itself then...

Well, my enjoyment of the book was seriously hampered by the fact that it's one of those bare minimum translations. They've translated over from Japanese to English, but no one really seemed to pay much attention to rewriting the literal translation. Aaron Sparrow is credited with adapting the translation, but the fact remains that a great deal of the dialogue just doesn't make any sense. It's not quite "all your base are belong to us," but it's pretty close in places. I know that these things are shot out at the rate of machine gun rounds nowadays, but I'd really appreciate it if these people could take the time to hire actual writers to knock the translations into shape.

This is all the more annoying here because the evocative setting, so well conveyed through the art, demands better than this bare minimum workmanlike writing. There are some great ideas and great visuals here, and the writing just isn't doing them justice. It's a great shame. The character designs are interesting, and there's some good use of imagery and symbolism in here too. I enjoyed the more scruffy look to the linework, and there are some nice special effects used in certain scenes. All in all, it's a good looking book, and one of the few manga I've read that I'd like to see in a larger, and perhaps coloured, format.

For all the editor's mumbling about this being a collection of homages, it's an interesting and inventive book, and well worth a read, especially if you can ignore the clunky writing. There's nothing particularly exciting going on, but the setting and the characters are intriguing, and I'm certainly interested to see more.

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