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Rave Master, Vol. 2 Paperback – April 15, 2003
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Haru and Plue make it to Hip Hop City (I am not kidding), where Plue's gluttony causes trouble -- he ends up in a vicious dog race full of deadly traps. While trying to rescue him, Haru encounters a young girl named Elie who's bet all her money on Plue's success so she can escape the city. But unfortunately the new Rave Master has gotten the attention of the local Demon Card kingpin Georco -- and his only chance of escaping in one piece may lie with Elie.
Then it's back to the big problem: getting Haru's sword fixed by the great blacksmith Musica. But their search turns up two different Musicas, both claiming to be the only one -- one is an alcoholic old man, and the other is the punky young leader of the Silver Rhythm Gang. Unfortunately, that gets them the attention of ANOTHER Demon Card member, and this one makes Georco look like a featherweight.
It's pretty much a requirement in a manga like this one that there be a love interest -- in this case it's Elie, a very enthusiastic gambler who can't remember anything about her past. Woo, lots of potential in that. And Mashima also introduces the "Han Solo" of this series -- a flirtatious, hard-fighting young man with a special talent with silver. Of the three main characters thus far (not including Plue) he's the most intriguing.
Haru is still rather underfleshed -- he's a manga hero archetype outline that hasn't been colored in yet, but he's slowly growing beyond the "my sister told me" boy from the sticks. As for Plue... well, he'll never make it in dog races.
And after a glacial first volume, Mashima's main plot is picking up steam -- everything is moving faster and more smoothly. It hasn't quite broken free of the overhanging genre cliches (big swords with powers! Little magical talismans! Hero triumphing from sheer guts!), but Mashima is starting to handle them with more confidence and flair -- and the fight scenes are starting to become a lot more interesting, especially since the Dark Bring powers are getting a lot flashier.
And at the same time, he seems to be injecting more successful humor that doesn't center on Plue -- Elie's casually destructive ways, her belief that Plue is a bug, and Musica's unsuccessful attempts at flirting. Some of it does fall flat, though -- Georco is just an embarrassment as a bad guy. Seriously, what's with the ridiculous "hip hop bishop" outfit?
"Rave Master Volume 2" shows a gradual upswing in Hiro Mashima's action manga, especially with the introduction of two promising characters. Makes it worth checking out what happens in number three.
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Mashima goes over the top with the silly dialogue in book 2, depositing Haru and Plue in Hip-Hop Town on the...Read more