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Dominion: Conflict, No. 1: No More Noise Paperback – February 19, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
P.S. This little baby is actually a prelude into the GHOST IN THE SHELL manga. No kidding!
I'm glad to say that I was proven wrong. In fact I'm very glad I gave this book a shot because this is one of Shirow's best manga ever, and possibly his funniest. How does it compare with the original? Well, the story - about the Tank Police's efforts to catch a notorious air pirate and uncover his connections to an evil arms corporation - is fairly standard and not as good or thoughtful as the original's (on the plus side though it's not as dense - in fact this just might also be the *lightest* Shirow manga in existence). Actually, this story might not even be a sequel per se to the original as the setting is very different. The bacterial smog from the original is gone (though this is lamp-shaded in-story) and the organization of the Tank Police is very different. Some of the characters from the original are gone too (such as Al and Charlie Nam) and some look rather different (the Chief). More of the cast are Japanese (or at least have Japanese names) while the original went out of its way to highlight the fact that Newport City had a disproportionate amount of foreign police officers. The series' heroine, Leona Ozaki is now a Sergeant and has less of a mecha fetish. Bonaparte is now no longer a single (mini)tank but a series of standard police tanks. And in the biggest change, Anna and Uni Puma have joined the Police!! Yes, the dangerous, homicidal android cat-girl twins have taken the side of law and order... may everyone start quaking in fear! I, of course, am quaking in laughter because the Puma Sisters provide some of the best comic moments in "Dominion: Conflict." They also get to give us a good helping of ...cute? I never thought that Shirow could do "cute" but he succeeds remarkably when he shrinks Anna Puma down to mini-size to fit her in a Bonaparte mini-tank in a gag that's both adorable and amusing. Brilliant!
Speaking of which, there's more humor in "Dominion: Conflict" than in "Dominion" (which is amazing considering that the original was pretty damn funny) and it is more broad with more slapstick. The characters are all riotously hilarious but three-dimensional, which is difficult to pull off when writing comedy. There are a few poignant dramatic moments though to balance things out - the most effective I can think of is of the three little old men in the holding cell near the end. The action is just as awesome as in the original - though it better be, considering a) this is Masamune Shirow and b) this story involves air pirates and cops who drive tanks! The artwork for this volume is also superior to the original but this is hardly surprising considering that this came out six years after the first installment. Shirow is a master of the manga artform, and if he releases stuff much more slowly than and not as often as other manga artists (owing to the fact that he works without assistants which is very rare in the world of Japanese comics), then this only proves the old adage about quality over quantity.
Dark Horse has done a good job with this publication of "Dominion: Conflict." For this edition they have printed this comic for the first time in the original Japanese reading order, i.e. right-to-left. The translation flows well, is easy to read and is free of obvious typos. We even get a notes section in the back explaining various facets of the "Dominion" world! My one problem though is that Dark Horse left the sound effects untranslated and instead presents them in the original language with translations below or sometimes in the panels. This is a rather jarring reading experience to say the least, reading English text then having to look for translations of Japanese text. I understand doing this for signs, newspapers, etc but why couldn't they have just translated the FX? Anyways, minor griping aside the quality of the book itself is rather nice - we get the first few pages in color and the paper is of pretty good quality (even if it isn't the really nice glossy paper of DH's 2nd Edition of "Ghost in the Shell"). Dark Horse is probably the highest-quality manga publisher in the business today.
Pluses - Very, very funny. In fact, the author's funniest ever. Great characters, exciting action and awesome artwork. And Mini-Anna!
Minus - Not as deep or intelligent as the original.
Conclusion - I highly recommend this comic. If you haven't read the original, don't be intimidated: this can be read without reading "Dominion." In fact, Shirow himself considers this to be a reimagining of the original setting and not a true sequel. A minor translation issue aside, this Dark Horse edition is very nice and would make a good addition to the collection of any Masamune Shirow fan, manga fan in general or even someone who's looking for some good action and comedy in equal spades.