Writer/Artist: Henichi Sonoda
Publisher: Dark Horse
I haven't been a great fan of the Cannon God Exaxxion monthly, and upon reading this book I've found out why - I only started with issue #2, and #1 contains 40 pages or so of essential build-up and background information that #2 and beyond just didn't repeat or summarise. So I looked at the monthly as a somewhat charming but confusing read - why this guy was in a suit was beyond me, who the old geezer with a breast fetish was ditto, and so on.
This trade, though, collects the first eight issues of the monthly series, and it works a treat. Essentially the plot is similar to V, the TV series - aliens land on earth and pretend to be our friends. Not many people are convinced otherwise, and the aliens co-exist happily with humans for ten years, gradually introducing their products and technology into Earth culture, infiltrating companies with their people, until the day of the revolution where all infiltrated technology ceases to function and the aliens take control of Earth.
It helps that they've devised a bloody huge robot to help quell trouble. Said robot has this nasty beam a la the heat ray of War of the Worlds, but can target (and be accurate) anywhere on the face of the planet. Any sniff of rebellion and bang...blam goes Mount Fuji, for example.
Enter Hoichi Kano, typical high school student, and his eccentric grandfather, who delivers a sexy android to help Hoichi out (miffing his on-and-off female love interest in the process) and has found (and been working on) an Exaxxion robot...it's another giant robot, but this one needs a human pilot. Before you can say "look out for that death ray", Hoichi is pressganged into fighting back, and gives the aliens a bloody nose in the process. Of course, now the alien homeworld takes an interest...
One thing in particular that lifts this book above typical manga are the serious decisions Hoichi and others have to face - is it acceptable to sacrifice a number of human lives for the greater good of humanity? How many lives is acceptable? Where do you draw the line? Are the alien civilians legitimate and viable targets or not?
The downside of course is the typical manga obsession with pretty girls and breasts - the inneundo and suggestiveness of a couple of sequences are fine and dandy, in terms of the characters and their ages, but a shower scene seems totally out of place and gratuitous; it adds nothing to the story at all except for titillation. But, get over that and you've a number of cool action sequences, some nice violence that just hits you full in the face when you're not expecting it (check out the last page of chapter one and the first of chapter two), and an involving plot.
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