MAOH: Juvenile Remix: Volume 1
- Words: Megumi Osuga
- Art: Megumi Osuga
- Story Title: Volume 1
- Publisher: Viz Media
- Price: $9.99
- Release Date: May 4, 2010
Posted by Jonathan Chuang on May 7, 2010
MAOH: Juvenile Remix is a bit different from what I expected. I first became intrigued with this series when I was told it’s a story about “mind over matter,” as I tend to gravitate towards stories where the main character relies on intellect rather than superpowers or brute force.
Within the first few pages, it was clear that this story was going to be a mixture of the two. This was a little disappointing, because I was really looking forward to a story that revolves around problem-solving and strategy. However, as I read further, the book surprised me. Although this title definitely features elements of the supernatural, neither the action nor the characters rely on the fantasy elements to drive the story forward. What MAOH: Juvenile Remix does focus on is a young apathetic high-schooler, who spends too much time thinking and not enough time doing (sounds familiar). That changes as he finds that he’s surrounded by problems that he simply can’t ignore. This leads Ando to reevaluate his impartial attitude and his responsibilities as a human being.
I have to applaud the writer Megumi Osuga for her handling of this story. I don’t have a great deal of experience with manga, but from the ones I do read, I’ve noticed that typically the main character and his or her friends struggle to overcome obstacles in spite of overwhelming odds. When everything’s stacked against them, they’re able to achieve their goals through sheer willpower. This is not that kind of story. It’s about a boy who struggles to overcome a realistic apathy. He hasn’t been put into a position where he’s the only one who can help, or put in a position where he has no other choice but to act. Instead, he sees bad things happening and rationally finds reasons not to get involved. This is a very realistic approach to everyday problems, and is quite common, especially in large cities.
Most of this story actually takes place in the protagonist’s head, but again, not in the standard way where he voices his insecurities or daydreams. In MAOH, Ando rationally works out what a bystander’s responsibilities are when he witnesses or is aware of a crime in progress. He wonders if his involvement will escalate the situation, or if the victims deserve what’s coming. Contrary to most mainstream manga characters who act on idealistic principles that do more harm than good, Ando really thinks about the effects his actions will have. What he finds is that there isn’t just a black and white answer to this. In this first volume, he finds out that there are wrong ways to do the right thing, and right reasons to do the wrong thing.
Manga fans need not worry, though. MAOH also features a lot of classic manga staples, like comedic cartoon slapstick, and well-endowed high school girls. Osuga’s art keeps all the good stuff about manga: dramatic and dynamic action scenes, attractive pin-up style pages, and cinematic pacing. Definitely a recommended read.
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