Spring time is coming to Baltimore, which means its time to get outside and do something while the weather is warming, right? How about taking in a show? A play like Topdog/Underdog. It’s a play about two brothers named Lincoln and Booth, surviving on the streets the only ways they can. It’ll be playing April 24th to May 19th at the Everyman Theatre down on 315 West Fayette Street. And speaking of Underdogs, let’s go check out this week’s pick, Magical Ban Removal!! Hyde and Closer!
Magical Ban Removal!! Hyde and Closer! presents a unique idea in a rather commonplace way for shonens. In fact, the way the series started out, it seemed very reminiscent of [hitman reborn], especially in comparing the main characters. But in the focus of the story as we always start out doing, we shall come back to the characterization. The story starts out with an overview of magic is in the universe in question. We get a glimpse at its history and its methods of use before we’re tossed into the main story. The focus of the story falls on Closer Shunpei, who is the fiftieth descendant of the most powerful mage the world knew. But now that his grandfather has vanished, he remains the final descendant and thus all the magical power and potential goes to him. That is of course, if he can manage to stay alive to figure out how to activate it. The plot starts off introducing this “good for nothing” teenager, Shunpei. He’s bad mouthed, belittled, picked on, and just takes it all. He accepts that his place is somewhere near the bottom and there’s nothing he can do about it. That is until someone delivers a package to his door that contains a plushie. A plushie that he finds that can walk talk, and oh yeah, kill him. Now running for his life, Shunpei is learning the truth of it all from the talking monkey toy. And just as the doll closes in to deliver the final blow… Shunpei is saved by the teddy bear doll that his grandfather gave him that also comes to life. And that’s how the story starts out.
One of the favorable parts about the story is that it doesn’t seem to take itself too seriously. Not to mention that the comedy antics, while dopey, are genuinely funny. The problem arises when you try to get into the meat of the story. The first volume does not do a great job of presenting you the whole story in a way that would hook everyone. In fact, most of it is Shunpei worrying about how people are going to react to him rather than the fact that his life is in almost constant danger. But the plot focuses more on his day to day than introducing the underlying story of “everyone is out to kill you, get stronger.” The story itself develops well in proceeding volumes. However, in the first volume, it seemed to fall short for more of the comedy element.
Okay, now to the characters. Throughout all the encounters, Shunpei finds himself very close to dying but in the end saved at the very last moment by Hyde. If this were to be seen as superhero comic, Hyde would be some sort of anti-hero and Shunpei would be the damsel in distress. Shunpei isn’t completely useless. He does learn a lot for a guy whose life was relatively easy before all the killer dolls. He picks up a few tricks that buy him some time. But that’s just it, they buy him time. While the story is about him, he sometimes came up as the sidekick. He’s principled, but he seemed more of a second fiddle to Hyde. Speaking of Hyde, who wouldn’t love a supernatural chainsaw wielding, cigar smoking teddy bear that look more hellish than some of the villains. Hyde is very much a star of the first volume as you watch him literally get the stuffing beat out of him and yet come back, and slice and dice. One of highlights to him is that he’s this childish teddy bear that you’d picture a girl carting about, but he’s constantly preaching about being a real man. This was one of the real hooks to the manga as Shunpei seemed to be a run of the mill standard character that yearns to get stronger after awhile.
Overall, while Magical Ban Removal!! Hyde and Closer seems like the run of the mill serial, it really is. BUT, it has it’s unique merit and charms as all mangas and animes do. The story does come to pick up in the following volumes and it comes together rather nicely. One of the great selling points is the art. Well the art is on part with typical shonen mangas, but the art scenes involving fighting dolls is nice and rather dynamic. All in all, Hyde and Closer is something that can come recommended as a good manga if you’re looking for something laid back and relaxed. But hey, as always, judge for yourself. Pick up the first volume and flip through it. See if it catches your fancy. And as always, keep reading. Keep watching. Keep smiling all.