oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
This is not a very flashy series, and although it isn't extremely memorable, I like it.

Volumes 2 and 3 get a little more into Randel's secret past, but not as much as I was afraid of. Don't get me wrong; I very much want to know what happened to him to make him a scary killing machine (metaphorically), but I also want to get to know the unit more. I get so tired of how single heroes' angst always ends up overtaking things. While the class issues are still not great, we at least get to see some more of it. It's still from the POV of the Pumpkin Scissors team, but I like that the situation is getting more complicated.

Spoilers )

As a side note, although Del Rey's notes in the back tend to be good, the ones for this series are trite and boring. I can't remember, since I read these a while ago, but they either state the obvious or, at one point, make ambiguities clear in case the reader misses it. I was particularly annoyed with the latter.
oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
The Empire and the Republic of Frost have been waging war for a long time, but the series actually begins when the two nations agree to a cease-fire. As a caption says, "There is no war, yet peace has not graced the land... This is the story about the stage in between..." Second Lieutenant Alice Malvin is the commanding field officer of Imperial Army State Section III, also known as Pumpkin Scissors (yeah, I have no idea either). Her unit is dedicated to peace building, though it's difficult given how much looting, corruption, and general lawlessness there is following the war. And then, they come across a mysterious, scarred stranger named Randel Oland, who is a veteran of the war, but not a particularly happy one.

I can see now why people compare this to Fullmetal Alchemist, although the first few pages looked like they were straight out of Gundam Wing. I love the premise of the series, especially since most series tend to focus on the war and winning the war, as opposed to the process of rebuilding, which I think is much more complex and interesting. So far, I'm not quite sure just how political this series will get, since it does feel like the focus will be on Randel's mysterious past, old war crimes, and conspiracies. On the other hand, even if it doesn't get into politicking, it'll still be interesting going around with the cast seeing the effects of the war.

I'm a bit leery of the class issues, particularly in the chapter focusing on Alice and her status as an aristocrat, which is largely on her guilty feelings and on her role being justified by other people, as opposed to actually concentrating on the lower class.

Still, this is a promising beginning, and I'll be looking for more.

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