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Bastard!! Vol.2
Left-Right Manga
206 Pages
VIZ Communications
Hagiwara Kazushi
The second volume of Hagiwara's Bastard!! is considerably more fulfilling than the first, as it...ahem...fleshes out many of the personalities of the main characters, filling in some of the holes of Dark Schneider's past. For an ancient evil wizard, he turns out to be rather likeable in this volume (and the women he meets seem to agree).
Overall Rating:

Animefringe Reviews:
Bastard!! Vol.2
By Patrick King

When we last saw D. S. (as he is affectionately called), he was breaking the character he maintained in the past by going out of his way to rescue Tia Noto Yoko, the young virgin who facilitated his resurrection back in volume one. After his defeat a generation prior to the events of the first edition of Bastard!!, D. S. was sealed away in the body of a young boy. This boy grew up with Tia, and as it turns out, the only way D. S. could be revived was with the kiss of a virgin. Tia performed that duty only as a last resort to protect her kingdom against the newly fortified armies left behind by D. S. himself. Hoping that some of Lucien's (the host boy) personality had leaked in to soften Dark Schneider's own, Tia kissed the kid to see if D. S. would help defend Tia's kingdom.

To sum up the entire last book, he did, but then Tia got kidnapped by one of Dark Schneider's former vassals.

This volume depicts D. S.'s quest to rescue Tia from the clutches of Ninja Master Gara. For some reason, the story falls together much better than the events of the first collection, and I was able to get into this book much more comfortably than the other. Despite a healthy amount of violence, nudity, and frequent references to heavy metal bands, there is actually a plot, here. And I think I liked it. If you're a fan of hack and slash fantasy action, and you aren't easily offended by questionable content, then this is a really fun series to dive into.

Viz's publication of Bastard!! actually includes a pile of newly redrawn content, added to the original (1988) version in 2000. The character designs are excessive in every sense of the word (big muscles, incredibly beautiful women, and big hair), but it works with the setting as much as Hagiwara's heavy metal theme. There's a good amount of neat monsters and well-illustrated explosions to keep my aesthetic senses sated, and the number of attractive close-ups of the various characters help a bit, as well. D. S.'s smug personality is unquestionably pinned to his face in each scene, even when he's battling foes under the throes of rage. Rather than annoy me, however, I actually find the guy charismatic, somehow.

The cover is eye-catching with a delicate rendering of Dark Schneider's head and a revealing image of Tia. The logo is lime-green, and with a title like Bastard!!, it's sure to grab people's attention. Volume two is still only $14.95, and my wallet thanks Viz for that. I'd be even more thankful if this book was presented unflipped, but I'm beginning to accept the fact that it'll take other publishers a while to figure out how much we readers appreciate unchanged artwork. The back cover does a good job of explaining the premise of the series while also summarizing the contents of the current volume. It's more informative than most, which is always appreciated.

Essentially, pick this title up if you have a need for some action-heavy fantasy. I hesitate to call this "mature," but there is nudity and dismemberment, so it might not be appropriate for impressionable young minds. That is, unless you're raising them to walk around naked and violent, in which case, I'd recommend this book wholeheartedly. People who can draw the line between fantasy and reality, however, are safe reading this series.

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