Saturday, September 18, 2010

Karakuridôji Ultimo

Author: Stan Lee +
Hiroyuki Takei
Illustrator: Hiroyuki Takei
English Publisher: Viz Media
Volume count: 2+
Note: It's awesome.

     Feudal Japan; a man who suspiciously looks a lot like Stan Lee is ambushed by a group of bandits. They immediately spot the old man's cargo and move in to inspect it. The old man warns them that the cargo contains two Karakuri Dôji, robotic boys with the incredible powers of Good and Evil. Naturally, the bandits pay little attention to his remarks and open the boxes anyway. Laying inside are two of the most exquisite pieces of work anyone has ever seen! One box holds a angelic looking doll with beautiful milky skin and flaming red hair. The other box contains a menacing creation with spiky dark hair and deep green armor. Apart from the sheer quality of craftsmanship, the bandits notice the two dolls both don large gauntlets and fine silks. When hearing the name 'Ultimo', the red doll opens his eyes and sits up. Displeased with being disturbed, the second doll, Vice, awakens shortly after and unleashes his powers, killing many. Ultimo steps in and the two dolls commence battle, leaving a serious path of destruction behind them. the old man, Dunstan, leaves the leader with a few more words before vanishing and ending the dream. Yamato is rather tall high school student on his way to school. His friend Rune manages catch up with him and then takes the time to remind Yamato that his crush Sayama's birthday is today. Having completely forgotten, Yamato enters a local antique shop with hopes of pawning his schoolbag for a bit of money. But when Rune attempts to drag him back out, Yamato comes face to face with the same doll from his dreams. The doll's eyes snap open when Yamato unconsciously calls out to him. Excitedly recognizing him as a certain leader of a certain group of bandits, Ultimo breaks free from his display and hugs the boy. Sadly, the doll realizes that his former master doesn't remember his previous life but remains optimistic. Ultimo explains that Vice has reappeared and that he must make another pledge with Yammato so that his true power may be released. With the images from his dreams still haunting him, Yamato can only stare at the strange doll. Will he accept Ultimo and take on Evil for the sake of Good? And will he ever find a present for Sayama?

     I came across Ultimo a while ago in Shonen Jump magazine. Though I planned to skipped it, the art pulled me in and I finally gave in. I'm very glad I did. The illustrations are done by Hiroyuki Takei, creator of Shaman-King. His style is fun and lively but still has a sophisticated feeling to it. From the way he draws expressions to how he draws action scenes, you can certainly tell this man is a professional. The lines are rather delicate and feathery but defined. It's one of those styles that uses skillful hatching and minimal screentone patterns. Very high grade material with a classic feel. As for the story...yes, this is Stan Lee's original concept and which is also another reason as to why I read Ultimo. But it's a fun story, it really is. Our hero is an good-hearted, violent, amusing character that you can't help but occasionally face-palming over. Even so, you're rooting for this guy and know he'll be okay somehow. The Karakuri Dôji are all have different personalities based on what they represent. But what you have to understand is that there's a particular element that comes into play; what's Good and what's Evil are based on the beliefs of their creator! I've only started reading the series so I can't really tell how big of a part that will play. Still, the idea is intriguing because we've all more-or-less an idea of what Good and Bad are 'supposed to be'. I'm curious to see if they'll stray away from those ideals. The plot is action packed and with plenty twists already significantly effecting the story, keeping it from getting dull. And an active story-line really makes the story sound that much more promising. So, because this series is new, any of you who decide to read it will be reading it with me. I'm excited about starting this one because it's almost impossible to find a good manga these days that's just good all around and not polluted to keep up with the times. I'll certainly be following this series and I urge you all to do the same!

I fell asleep while typing yesterday. That's what happened, no excuses, I apologize. And today I decided that I would hit the book store I picked up two new series. This is one of them. I'll be posting the other tomorrow. Anyone wanna guess what I picked up? (Hint: fairly new) Thanks again, everyone!


  1. sounds interesting like usual!

  2. Never thought I would be so interested in Manga, to be honest. But they sound pretty good.

  3. Sweet review, keep up the good work!

  4. GREAT review, keep up the good efforts, ill check this out in my spare time

  5. You had me at Stan Lee. Keep up the great reviews! :D

  6. Have not heard of this one before. Might have to check it out down the track but I am working my way through Baki The Grappler atm.

  7. Hm, if Stan Lee had a role in this I should probably check it out.

    I should also probably finish Shaman King...

  8. looks really good, i'll have to check it out

  9. Hmm, I'll look at this in chapters. >_<
    I'll tread carefully, not used to looking at manga there.