Manga Impressions: Kure-nai and Iris Zero

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Few weeks ago, I decided to conduct a personal experiment to pick a random manga title on my local bookstore and buy several volumes of it that I previously never heard of from anyone before to expand my own horizon. This leads……to a quite an interesting results. Maybe one day I’ll do it again, but who knows.

So anyway, in this post, I’m going to give you my short impression toward those series. Starting with Kure-nai volume 1-3 (the one above). 🙂

KURENAI 1-3

Not gonna lie, but what attract me to pick up Kure-nai in the first place is for the fact there’s a cute loli in the cover. Judging from the where it was published, I kinda of expect the series to be an entertaining battle shonen. Unfortunately, what I get is quite something else.

Anyway, the series follows the live of our teenage protagonist Shinkuro Kurenai who’s a mediator (basically, a problem solver) and his every day jobs. That’s…….actually what I can best describe the series premise. Wow.

The first volume pretty much focus on Shinkuro daily jobs (being a bodyguard and taking care of a dog) while establishing our core cast and their dynamic. There’s Murasaki, a young lady from a prestige family who has a crush on Shinkuro, Yuno, Shinkuro’s yandere senpai who taught him how to fight and also has a crush on him, Tamaki, Shinkuro’s neighbor who’s a college student that likes to get drunk and tease the heck out of Shinkuro, Ginko, Shinkuro’s childhood friend who thankfully, didn’t have a crush him, but sure as heck is tsun-tsun toward him, and finally, Shinkuro himself.

With group of supporting cast like that, you can imagine some harem antics to be abound and so, the following pretty much summarized my impression about the volume.

Well, honestly, it took more than a several harem ecchi antics to made a series unenjoyable for me. Unfortunately, the writing didn’t help amending that.

Many of the character feels flat including Shinkuro, despite the fact he’s given a whole chapter dedicated for his backstory and motivation (he lost his parents after a terrorist attack and wanted to get stronger so that he can survive in the world by himself). The dramatic moments are often ham-fisted and heavyhanded. Some of them are even edgy for its own sake. The action pretty much consist of Shinkuro’s getting fatally wounded first, before getting a comeback by punching the opponent hard.

After that fiasco, I hold off on not reading the next volume for a while, in fact, I even considering not reading it entirely. But, since I already spent money on it, I might as well make the most of it. Thankfully, the latter volumes fares slightly better.

Volume 2 and 3 focused upon the past relationship between Shinkuro and Murasaki where Shinkuro met Murasaki for the first time when he’s given a job to be her bodyguard/caretaker by his master, with a Tamaki focused chapter in the intro of the second volume.

With volume 2 and 3 largely about the growing relationship between Shinkuro and Murasaki, the volumes are largely absent of the harem antics that comes from the previous volumes. The development in their relationship are handled quite nicely, that is if you can get past the whole a seven year old having a feeling for our teenage protagonist. It was paced nicely and there’s even some actual growth that came out for the two in their relationship. While Shinkuro helps Murasaki getting acclimated toward ordinary life, Murasaki helps Shinkuro getting over his haunting past. Despite the fact Shinkuro becomes stronger physically after a rigorous training from his senpai, Shinkuro’s still traumatized mentally from his loss. Although the method for her to do so are…………..questionable.

(SPOILER INBOUND!!!!)

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Yeahhhhhhh.

Unfortunately, the volumes still contain its fair share of problem. The series recurring problem of poorly written villain still prevails (they’re all a-holes basically). And Murasaki also relegated to damsel in distress by the end.

As for the artstyle, there’s not much for me to say other than its quite nice.

So, that’s pretty much my impression of Kure-nai, On the whole, its kind of decent. I probably going to buy the new release again if I had the urge.

Alright, now lets move on to Iris Zero volume 1-3. ^ ^

IRIS ZERO 1-4

I’m also not gonna lie that what attract me to pick up the series is because of there’s a cute girl in the cover and also for the fact that the series premise involves a lonely guy had his world upside down by a popular cheerful girl. So yeah, you can see there’s power fantasy at play here.

Anyway, the series sets in a alternated world where majority teenagers in the world possessed a supernatural abilities known as ‘Iris’ in their eyes. Our protagonist Tohru Mizushima, unfortunately, is one of the few minority who has no possession of such power which gives him the moniker ‘Iris Zero’ and becomes a target of discrimination for much of his life.

Because of that, he lives by always not trying to attract attention. Until one day, a popular girl from his school suddenly comes to him to ask for his help. From there, Tohru began to be dragged around to all sorts of mysteries which require his abilities to solves and gaining new friends along the way, including the aforementioned popular girl, Koyuki Sasamori.

Iris Zero, strictly speaking, is pretty much a slice of life mixed with episodic mysteries ala Hyoka. Some involves a common everyday life commotion (locked haunted bathroom, missing clothes etc.), others involved Iris user’s struggle. The mystery itself belong to the first category to the school of mystery narrative construction i.e. the one where the series laid of all of the variables and clues in the scenario just enough so that the reader can deduce it themselves, and the whole is pretty well constructed. The mix of Iris into the formula also made for a pretty creative scenario and conflicts. But, Iris Zero peak during the event of the third volume, the beginning of ‘Iris Hunter’ arc, where it becomes a thrilling cat and mouse chase in which the series employs all of its main cast of characters and their respective abilities to create a suspenseful and creative drama, and it all boil down to a satisfying and emotionally cathartic climax on volume 4.

The cast of character themselves are generally solid and well developed. Many of the character flaw comes from the throwback of their Iris power. Tohru’s a quite likeable and sympathizeable main protagonist. While he doesn’t generally like drawing attention, its quite surprising that he doesn’t have a cynical or anti-social mindset despite being discriminated. As someone who’s pretty much exiled for not having an Iris, he’s always obsessed about what others might think, which led him to have his deductive abilities. What’s also noteworthy about Iris Zero is on the fact that it cares and empathize with all of its character. There’s almost no villain doing things for the sake of evil, everyone has a clear articulated motivation. Some of them are related to the downside of having their respective Iris power.

The artstyle are generally solid with a distinct character design. I also quite liked the visualization of the Iris power. Its simple, but quite effective.

If I had some nitpick on the series is that it didn’t have much worldbuilding. While it’s already established that only the current generation of teenagers who has the possession of Iris, aside from the aforementioned issue of discrimination, the society in which teenagers has possession of such power aren’t much different. There’s no government responds to such event and in fact, the everyday life for these teenagers are pretty much the same, except for the fact they had supernatural power.

So, suffice to say, Iris Zero is quite a hit for me. Unfortunately, I found out that the series is currently on indefinite hiatus since last year because of the author’s health problem. Thankfully, considering the series didn’t have any significant overarching narrative since the ‘Iris Hunter’ arc, if it comes to the worst, I’d say the series can pretty much end nicely anytime. So yeah, go check out this one. 🙂

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