Manga Review – Outlanders Vol. 2

I’m continuing with my reviews of Outlanders… with a bit of a correction – the series was published in the US in the late 80’s by Dark Horse. My review of Volume 1 said it was published in the Mid-90s. Anyway, with that aside, we’ll see how well this volume continues the series.

General Information

Title: Outlanders Vol. 2
Written and Illustrated by Johji Manabe
Translated by Dana Lewis and Toren Smith
Lettering and Touch-Up by Wayne Truman
Originally Serialized by Hakushensha’s ComiComi Magazine.
Currently out-of-print, but originally published in the US by Dark Horse Comics.

The Premise

After the destruction of Japan in the prior volume of the series, Tetsuya finds himself as the prisoner of Princess Kahm of the Santovasku Empire. Meanwhile, Aki, in Russia, and believing herself one of the few surviving people from Japan, discovers some surprising secrets about Human history.

High Points

The supporting cast, at least the cast surrounding Kahm and Tetsuya is getting fleshed out a little more. Also, the art is still some of the best art I’ve seen in manga in general.

Low Points

The tone of this volume has given me whiplash. On the one hand we have apocalyptic destruction being wrecked across the world. On the other hand, the relationship between Kahm and Tetsuya is starting to turn to remind me a bit much of Urusei Yatsura (particularly the “Marry Lum or Earth is Destroyed” part).

Content Notes

Quite the reversal from the last volume – not as much blood in this volume as the last volume, however considerably more nudity – with the added implication that one character may be raped (possibly off camera) in the next volume.

The Scores

Originality: The series loses a point by starting to trot merrily towards the aforementioned Urusei Yatsura territory. 4 out of 6.

Artwork: The art has improved significantly from the last volume, to the point that it’s some of the best manga art I’ve seen, from backgrounds to the character designs of the new characters, to mechanical designs of the new ships and vehicles. This is a definite step up. 6 out of 6.

Story: Still not a lot of answers here, but we get some small answers, as well as some new questions, all while keeping the plot moving forward, which is how it should be. 4 out of 6.

Characterization: The supporting cast gets fleshed out some – at least the characters around Kahm, but the new characters are still pretty much ciphers at best. Aki’s mysterious transformation to Jilehr doesn’t help things any. 3 out of 6.

Emotional Response: Frankly, the tone of the story gave me whiplash. We go from (melo)dramatic moments with all of humanity being in peril, and epic levels of destruction, to slapstick comedy with Kahm and her retainers. 3 out of 6.

Flow: 5 out of 6.

Overall: This volume is much improved over the past, and considering how little I’ve heard about this series, I’m starting to consider it an under-rated gem. The series still needs to figure out what it wants to be though. 4 out of 6.

In Total, Outlanders Volume 2 gets 29 out of 42.