The 3rd and latest tank set to be released this coming September 19, 2019.
Though a veteran in the Manga making world, Akira Hiramoto-sensei only became a household name when his original Manga, Kangoku Gakuen (Prison School) debuted as an Anime in 2015 bringing the much-needed attention onto his work. Though very popular, there are still many who cannot seem to comfortably enjoy the series due to the heavy presence of Ecchi (or in English, erotic or lewd) moments causing several viewers to shun the series entirely. But this factor alone did not dampen the series overall’s popularity. Instead, it catapulted Akira-sensei to the limelight. In the period of 2014 to 2015, the Manga sold around 4 million copies ranking the series in the Top 10 most sold Manga in Japan. All was looking well for Akira-sensei till December 2017 when the series was suddenly announced to have come to an end leaving fans baffling especially given the ending they received with many speculating that the series may have actually been axed by Kodansha. In fact Akira-sensei even went as far as to note in RaW Hero that he simply could not care what people think of the ending. I guess, Japanese and non-Japanese fans alike were not that happy, and it was pretty apparent to even Akira-sensei. Unbeknownst to many, Kodansha then green lit another series by the famous Mangaka. And in 2018 right after the end of Prison School, Akira-sensei embarked on a new series called RaW Hero. With 3 tanks (volumes) published so far, can RaW Hero continues Akira-sensei’s success as a Mangaka?
Ore to Akuma no Blues is another great Manga from Akira-sensei featuring gorgeous works of art.
With his first work released in 1998 (please see Hiramoto Akira), Akira-sensei has released a few more series aside from Prison School, including a short story, Moshi-Moshi!! Kamado-san!? and a full-blown series, Ore to Akuma no Blues. Although the latter is on hiatus – perchance to pave way to his more recent and popular series. It is obvious at this point that, people enjoy Akira-sensei’s work especially when it involves the Ecchi genre. Perhaps Kodansha sees Akira-sensei’s potential in such genre and hence, decided to approve his next work which also – not a surprise – contains if it’s not much, mayhap even more lewdness than Prison School. It is however should be noted that, there is an underlying context behind Akira-sensei’s work than it being just simply about lewdness. If you are not comfortable with the notion of “Ecchi” or lewdness, you may want to avoid this review as the genre may not be the cup of tea of many. Though, I would recommend reading the review to find out whether or not if you should give the series a try.
The Manga features some pretty neat art and great attention to detail.
Speaking about Akira-sensei’s Manga, one has got to appreciate his work of art. It is without a doubt that Akira is amongst the best artists working in Japan today with his art almost equivalent to the level portrayed by artist such as Yuusuke Murata, who drew for One-Punch Man and Eyeshield 21. There are a lot of details and intricate level of attention to the characters’ design and background. The art is simply breath-taking. It is sufficient to say that, I will not be surprised that some may read or may buy any of his works just because of the art. And this has very much carried over into RaW Hero. The level of design and attention to detail in this series is very high. Every single panel is carefully drawn, and you can just see the amount of effort put into them. Despite the high level of art, the panels are often kept clean and dialog bubbles do not seem to interfere much of the space in each panels. Everything is neat and tidy. Upon further inspection onto the tanks (volumes) I personally have, the art looks even better. The same could be said when action scenes commence, whilst not many, you will be able to see that they are very consistent to other non-action panels. The transitions are smooth and it is easy to understand what is going on. As I have mentioned just now, if you are familiar with Akira-sensei’s work – if you have read Prison School for instance – then you may find a lot of similarities in terms of its art. The art is bold and very outspoken synonymous with its theme – which is Ecchi. You will find a lot of panty shots and emphases on other body parts such as the chest area or even the hip area an aspect that Akira-sensei excels. If you have indeed read, seen all or even parts of Prison School this would all feel very familiar. The over-sexualization may come as a little off-putting to many, not to mention there are scenes that are borderline H-scenes in RaW Hero. But, it is one of Akira-sensei’s strongest point. He is well-known for being able to draw not only facial expression of characters really well, but he is also able to express to a great extend female characters’ figures and bring out their sexual attractiveness. And this may be the main reason I personally feel that many had chosen to stay away from Prison School – as they feel uncomfortable at times seeing certain characters whose angles are often drawn in a lewd manner, something that happens very often in his works. Such a thing persists even in RaW Hero. It is a double edged sword nevertheless, it is evident that this did not deter Prison School from selling well in Japan. Likewise, it was also not able to diminish its Anime’s popularity. And I am of the opinion that Raw Hero would be just the same.
The main character Chiaki and his brother, Chinatsu.
The narrative is certainly this series weakest point. It feels all over the place with almost no sense of direction. You feel like Akira-sensei is leading you somewhere with the story, and suddenly the plot seems to be cut off abruptly. Although Akira-sensei is able to project panels from one to another effortlessly, he cannot seem to do so with the story. I can imagine that readers may be left perplex over what is happening. The story starts fairly simple introducing us to the main character Chiaki and gave us a glimpse at the beginning of another protagonist before completely revealing the character a couple of chapters later. From there you are being brought to tag along Chiaki on his quest in search for a job – something all Japanese do and very much displeased at doing – till one day where he thought that he could finally land on a job, he stumbled upon a pervert in a train. Things took a turn but not for the worst. From there, he was thrust into the world of justice vs evil. The backstory that you get is very faint as what the series lacks, is serious world building. But this is how the story goes, apparently, in RaW Hero, the government has been accused of keeping secret to the public of the emergence of people with superpowers. Those who use their powers for truth and justice ended up being called “HEROES” whilst those who use them for evil are called “FREAKS”. Things however, are not what it seems. It feels like Akira-sensei is trying to show more than just a simple good vs evil highlighting the fact that, it does not mean that just because you are on the side of “good” your methods are not evil. The same can be said for those on the side of evil. Your methods may not be “evil” just because you are on that side. People unfortunately will judge you for whose side you are on. For instance, being on the side of the government would make you look good whilst being on the side of an organization deemed evil by a group of people – such as the government – will make someone look bad. There is some meaning to all these plots that Akira-sensei is trying to deliver. Nonetheless, it is very obscure even to me during my first read. It is also really interesting that if you take a closer look and take your time reading, you may find that some elements of the story may be a direct message from Akira-sensei himself. Especially with regards to the Manga industry, or it could even be about his own-self. So, it is more than just a typical Ecchi manga. It is more than that. It speaks about the society, those in power and how normal people struggle every single day to make their lives easier. Couple that with the humor (well.. it is a gag Manga) you get from the series, you find yourselves an in fact, an enjoyable read!
Some great eye expression works by Akira-sensei, you also see these kind of thing a lot in Prison School.
I have no qualms at all when it comes to the characters of the series. I try not to spoil much, but what I can say is that, they are all unique in their own way. They have their own unique expressions and quirks. Nobody but one has annoyed me so far. Yet, better than most characters that I have seen in other Anime(s) or Manga(s). The characters do have their own motivation that each deserves their own arc. And I do believe they will. My only concern here, is how they grow from now as a character. My experience with the characters with Prison School did not leave much of a good taste in my mouth. The characters were certainly interesting at first, after a hundred of chapters in though, you feel a little disconnected. I feel growth is important for characters in any stories. As a reader you would want to experience the characters’ growth. It feels that as they grow, you grow too. Hence, why we enjoy series like Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on the Titan) or One Piece. We see them grow and become the characters they are today. Prison School did not make me feel that way thus, I ended up losing interest in the series. I hope we could see some improvements here in RaW Hero. The characters have motivation, their own goals. This seems like a good projection so far. Hopefully, Akira-sensei could give us the flesh out we need and at the same time develop their characters. If that is done, I am sure it will keep readers wanting for more.
Verdict: a 7.5/10. The oversexualization may turn off many people from reading the Manga, but the art style and Akira-sensei’s amusing way of story telling should make this Manga whilst not a must read, certainly a Manga that should not be ignored. If you are not a fan of Ecchi though, it’s best to stay away. Those who are casual readers or are okay with just anything, and are looking for something interesting to read, this is definitely one of the Manga(s) for you!
Please check out my other Manga review – I am a Hero
If you have read Prison School or RaW Hero, do share your thoughts with me in the comment section down below!