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Barrage Volume 1 by Kouhei Horikoshi (a J!-ENT Manga Review)

January 30, 2013 by  



“Barrage” is an addictive, fun, action-packed manga series!  Recommended!

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Image courtesy of © 2012 Kouhei Horikoshi. All Rights Reserved.

MANGA TITLE: Barrage Vol. 1

STORY AND ART BY: Kouhei Horikoshi (堀越 耕平)

FIRST PUBLISHED IN JAPAN: Weekly Shonen Jump

PUBLISHED IN USA BY: VIZ Media, LLC

RATED: T for Older Teen

Available on March 5, 2013

Spunky slum kid Astro gets the chance of a lifetime to end the chaos ripping apart his home planet when the playboy prince switches places with him. Now Astro has become Prince Barrage, a boy charged with the duty of restoring peace to the planet… and given an all-powerful magical spear to do it!

In order to save the planet, Astro will have to battle terrifying aliens while learning how to fight from his even more frightening guardian, the exacting knight Tiamat. Does a kid like Astro have what it takes to become the real prince and save the planet?

Always on the lookout for up-and-coming manga talent, there are a few talents out there who get the opportunity after working for another mangaka but then also getting the opportunity to have their own series.

In the case of Kohei Horikoshi, the young manga artist began working as an assistant to Yasuki Tanaka for “Kagijin” but then was given the opportunity to start on his own series which was “Omagadoki Dobutsuen” for Weekly Shonen Jump in 2010-2011.  With five volumes being published, Horikoshi went on to create a new manga series in 2011 titled “Sensei no Barrage” for “Jump NEXT!”.

The series would eventually be featured in Weekly Shonen Jump in 2012 and as of January 2013, a total of two volumes have been released and it looks as if there are only two volumes that have been planned so far.  And for Viz Media, wanting to stay current with near simultaneous releases of their manga, “Barrage” volume 1 will be released in the U.S. in March 2013.

“Barrage”takes place in a galaxy that was once under peaceful rule by its royal family.  But as the planets engaged in interplanetary exchange, troublesome aliens would disrupt the peace and 50 years later, the planet would be engaged in a warring planets stage.

In the Planet Industria, outside of the planet’s capital city, life for the humans are in bad shape.  People are starving, are poor and there are no laws.

For one teenager named Astro, he is poor but having lived in the slums alone, he has taken in children who were left orphaned and has made them as part of his own family.  Having known the solitude of living alone and poor, he values family at the highest priority in life and will work long hours and do whatever he can, to raise money for the orphans.

One day, after his (mean) boss  was accidentally hit by the uncaring Archduke of Endora, as the boss was about to be stomped on, Astro came into the rescue to save him.   While Astro was able to save his boss, the Archduke throws money at Astro to keep.  Meanwhile, his boss looked at Astro’s actions as a way to get them killed, so Astro is fired from his job.

Not having the guts to tell the orphans that he lost his job and may not be able to provide them with food, Astro can only cry.  But for one of the eldest orphans, Chima, she appreciates all that Astro has done for the kids.  But always trying to be positive in front of the orphans, Astro promises them that he will get them out of the slums and find a better life for them.

And listening to their conversation is Prince Barrage, an arrogant, spoiled and abusive son of the Planetary King of Industria.  He also happens to look exactly like Astro.

Hearing about Astro’s problem and wanting to be free from the royal family, Prince Barrage gives Astro the “Orgue”, a family royal relic that proves he is royalty.

But just when Prince Barrage celebrates his new freedom, a laser beam is fired and strikes Prince Barrage right in the head, instantly killing him.

Out of nowhere, Prince Barrage’s entourage comes in to look for him and because Astro is wearing the Orgue, they believe that Astro is Prince Barrage.

Meanwhile at the capital city, Planetary Military Forces, 1st Battalion Lieutenant, Tiamat reports to the king that the Orgue as well as the Prince has been found.

When Tiamat confronts Astro (thinking he is Prince Barrage) and lecturing him to not be a burden to the Royal Family, this upsets Astro, who tells him that no matter what happens, one must stand behind their family, which shocks Tiamat.

Meanwhile, the Archduke of Endora comes to the kingdom to meet with the King of Industria and claims that Prince Barrage stole money from him.  Astro tells them the truth that he stole nothing and that the Archduke is responsible for throwing his bag of money and that he has the wallet but plans on returning it.

But the Archduke of Endora claims that it was stolen and then tells the King of how would anyone want that kind of brat to be part of the family.

Once again, upset that someone said something bad about “family”, Astro engages the Archduke of Endora but is shot down by one of his soldiers.  This angers Tiamat who thinks that the Prince may be dead, but out of nowhere, Astro arises and the Orgue is activated in its true form.

As the Archduke of Endora and his soldiers try to kill Astro, he is protected by the Orgue’s protective beam and is able to extend the Orgue to a spear the Archduke.  Leaving his soldiers to admit that Archduke of Endora lied about the money being stolen and the Archduke admitting to his lie.

Proud of the prince, the King of Industria is proud that the orgue has transformed and that it must mean the prince is taking his job seriously and that he will now one day become the king of the country and planet.

But during dinner, not wanting to be liar, Astro tells the King and Tiamat the truth.  That Prince Barrage was killed and that he is an orphan that is taking care of his orphan family in the slums.

But both the King and Tiamat knew there was something wrong because in truth, Prince Barrage was arrogant, spoiled and also abusive towards the staff.

But because the Orgue has responded to Astro, he is the planet’s only hope in defeating the evil beings that are infesting the planet.  The King Industria asks Astro for a favor and that is to bring peace to the war-torn planet and continue to being Prince Barrage in order to bring hope to the people.

For Astro, he will agree to it, if only his orphans can live in the castle and be taken care of.  The King Industria agrees to Astro’s demand and the orphan children are brought to their new home.

But immediately, Astro and Tiamat are sent on a journey to visit various villages and rid them of the alien tyrants that have brought misery to them.  Tiamat must train Astro in the art of fighting and together, they must go on this long mission to protect people.

At first, Astro is sad because it means that being on long missions, he will not get to see his orphan family.  But knowing that they will be taken care of and the fact that he can save other families out there, he agrees that he will do all he can to use the Orgue and save these families from harm.

And so now Astro (as Prince Barrage) and Tiamat must travel village to village in this long journey to make the world safe from alien tyrants.

The first volume of “Barrage” really impressed me.  The idea of a faux prince that has the power of the Orgue and has this passion and longing to protect families, to the point he is willing to sacrifice his life and fight for them wherever he goes.  It’s a rather interesting concept.

In some ways, “Barrage” does remind me a little of the series “Gurren Lagann” and also a little of “The Slayers” or even “Naruto”.  But instead of a large group of team members helping villagers, it’s pretty much Astro and Tiamat.

But the whole concept of this young teen from the slums becoming a hero is quite fascinating and the series provides enough action that there is a good balance of an exciting story along with action elements.

While the first half focused on how Astro came to be Prince Barrage and taking on the duties of protector, the second half of volume 1 focuses on the two visiting various villages who have asked for an army to protect them from their alien tyrant.  But when they see Tiamat and Prince Barrage, the villagers fear that the two will not be enough.

But it’s when Astro shows the power of the Orgue, if he can learn how to fight (from Tiamat), the two can be an explosive force that may be able to rid the planet of the alien baddies that have caused havoc all over the planet.

So far, it looks as if “Barrage” will only be a two-volume manga release (the second volume schedule for an April 2013 release).  That would be a shame because this manga series is actually quite exciting and even addictive.  But it does work well for those who tend to stay away from long-running series.

Overall, “Barrage” is an action-packed and highly entertaining manga story about one young boy who grew up with no family, all alone and always wanting to be part of a family.  With his goal to provide for his orphan family, he will do all it takes to protect not just his orphan family but all families from alien tyrants.

Once again, I’m actually impressed with this first volume and I look forward to volume 2.

Are you an action manga fan? “Barrage” is an addictive and fun action manga series that I definitely recommend!

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