Rave Master Chap. 7-8: My Sister Taught Me That!

Haru was mostly raised by his older sister, and he really took whatever she taught him to heart. I know this, because he’s always talking about, “my sister taught me that!” I remember that he said something along those lines a lot early in the series, and I remember that it really annoyed me. Possibly because I was thirteen when I first read these books, and therefore my older sister – if you were to ask me – was an idiot. Re-reading these now, it still bugs me a little bit. Not because Haru’s taking his older sister’s advice, but because he mentions “my sister told me…” so often. The other reason is because everything that Haru’s sister has taught him is completely obvious.

Take a drink every time Haru talks about what his sister taught him.

Really, Haru? Dogs are getting impaled on spikes and exploded, but you need your sister’s advice to figure out that animal cruelty is bad?

Despite Elie’s warnings, Haru interrupts the race again. This was Georco’s plan all along, of course: to put Plue in the dangerous race and lure Haru out. Now, there is one thing, and one thing only I will applaud Georco on: he learned from his mistakes. Instead of fighting Haru out in the open, where another explosion could blow his gaseous form away, Georco traps him in a giant steel box with no way out – in other words, no fresh air for Haru to breathe. It kind of begs the question why Georco had a giant, ten foot tall box laying around in the first place, but I can forgive that, because the ridiculous trap was pretty effective. However, I cannot forgive Georco for constantly referring to it as the “Smoke Hiz-ouse”. A part of me died every time I had to read that phrase.

Without oxygen, Haru can’t make explosions, and so it looks like he’s screwed.

The day is saved by Elie, and I love that, purely because it’s the girl saving the guy, and not the other way around. She uses her tonfa blasters (which are like side-arm cannons, I actually like them) to blow up the smoke house to let Haru escape. Plue manages to steal Georco’s dark bring, so he can no longer turn himself into gas. Out in the open again, Haru delivers the final blow to Georco, thus finishing our first Monster of the Week.

With all the action, there wasn’t a lot of plot in Chapter 7, so we’ll move on to Chapter 8.

Now that Georco’s been taken down, Haru and Elie take a minute to talk. Of course, this is after Elie nearly blows up half the stadium with her tonfa blasters.

That’s actually good advice, Haru. Don’t stick it in crazy.

 It turns out the Elie knows where to find Musica, the blacksmith that can repair Haru’s sword. She also reveals what little there is to reveal about her backstory: she has lost her memory. It’s a tired trope at this point, but what I like about Elie is that she’s not angsty about it. There’s plenty of “waaah, I can’t remember!” characters out there, but Elie is happy, excitable, and generally a fun character, rather than being mopey about it. She doesn’t take up too much time feeling sorry for herself, which is nice to see. Yes, she would like her memory back, but she’s also not going to let herself be miserable over it.

Haru and Elie decide to leave Hip Hop Town together. They say that Demon Card is out of commission, so they won’t have to pay the fee to leave. But how does punching the daylights out of Georco take down an evil organization that’s clearly taken over the town? I’m sure Georco has some underlings who would gladly take over his role as boss. Or maybe that’s the end of dog racing in Hip Hop Town forever because Elie completely destroys the stadium.

Seriously. She’s so excited to be leaving town with Haru that she lets off another couple shots from her tonfa blaster and the stadium starts to collapse. Her reason:

The duo escape the stadium by…jumping on a chariot pulled by dogs. I’m not joking. This whole series is so goofy, though, that I think I’ve learned just to go with it by now.

 We’re nearly at the end of the chapter, but there’s just one more thing I want to bring up. We get a brief cutaway to some of Demon Card’s generals, hanging out in the fortress Rhapsodia.

This is when it hit me.

Rhapsodia, like “rhapsody”. Song continent. Hip Hop Town and Punk Street.

THE TOWNS ARE ALL NAMED AFTER MUSIC GENRES.

Ever since I was a kid I thought that all the town names in Rave Master were really dumb. And I never once thought there was a musical motif in the names. HOW THE HELL DID I MISS THAT?

It turns out the town names aren’t dumb; I am.

Rave Master Vol. 2, Chap. 6: Down with the Kids Today

Chapter 6 starts with Haru facing off against Georco. And I hate Georco. There are plenty of reasons to dislike a villain, but I don’t hate him because he’s villainous and actively trying to kill our hero. That’s just part of what villains do.

I hate him because of the way he talks.

Did you ever have a teacher who wanted to prove he could talk to kids by attempting to use their slang, but was a few years behind what everyone else was saying? Or see middle-class kids who listen to rap music and then decide they’re “ghetto” too, and try to act like it? Has your mom ever tried to talk to you using words like “swag” or “fleek” or whatever the hell it is those darn kids are saying today?

Georco sounds like all those people.

#YOLO #BILBOSWAGGINS

I think that he’s supposed to sound cool and “with it”, or maybe it has something to do with the way the manga was translated. Maybe “I’ve peeped this cat before” sounds really cool in Japanese, instead of something ripped from a 1920s gangster movie.

An annoying and otherwise forgettable one-shot villain is made utterly detestable because of his dialogue, and for a twist, it’s not what he says, it’s how he says it.

Georco has a Dark Bring, which gives him the power to turn into carbon monoxide. That’s…actually kind of cool, now that I think about it. The way Georco’s attack names are translated, though, seem weird. The first attack Georco uses is called “Toxic Gas Blast”, because when you live in a manga, you always need to announce exactly what you’re doing to your enemy. However, a footnote lets us know that the original name of the attack is “CO Heaven”. That sounds a lot more bad-ass, if you ask me. So why bother changing it? It would probably help me take the character more seriously.

Even though his sword is broken, Haru can still use the power of Rave to make explosions. He can’t hit Georco directly, so instead he creates an explosion to blow smoky Georco away.

Hang on a second. A thought just occurred to me. Isn’t carbon monoxide invisible? If Georco really turned into carbon monoxide, why can we still see him? Because it seems to me it would be a lot smarter for him to just disappear from view and asphyxiate Haru. The kid was having a hard enough time with the fight when he could see Georco.

He’s RIGHT. FUCKING. THERE.

Anyway, Haru manages to get away from Georco, but isn’t in good shape after their fight. In fact, he completely forgets to rescue Plue as he makes his escape. You know, the thing that made him break up the race in the first place. Okay, he’s in respiratory distress at the moment, so I’ll handwave this one. For now. What I can’t forgive is how easily the mooks chasing Haru overlook him.

How did I let them get away with this when I was a kid?


With that potentially exciting scene squandered, Haru takes a minute to catch his breath, literally, and talks with Elie. It turns out that Demon Card has a lot of power in Hip Hop Town and anyone who wants to leave has to pay a huge fee to Demon Card. This kind of makes me wonder at the implications of this for Hip Hop Town’s economy, but that’s neither here nor there. Elie tells Haru her plan for getting out of Hip Hop Town: she’s bet all her money on the dog race. This…is very poor financial planning.

It turns out Elie’s placed her bets on Plue to win the Battle Road race. Battle Road is essentially greyhound racing meets the Hunger Games.

Am I a bad person because I think that sounds kind of awesome?

It is decidedly not awesome for the dogs participating, because along with them attacking each other, there’s all sort of traps set around the race track, like spears that pop out of the ground and explosions. Even though Elie claims that no dog has ever died on Battle Road, I’m finding that a little hard to believe.

Her reasoning for putting all her money on Plue? She’s convinced that he’s a bug who will fly at the end of the race. I know Elie’s supposed to be a goofy character, but…really? He barely looks like a dog, how the hell did you look at Plue and decide he was a bug?

Haru wants to rescue Plue, but since Elie’s bet everything she has on the race, she refuses to let Haru do so, and threatens to alert Demon Card thugs if he tries to stop the race. And so ends chapter 6.

I’m trying to remind myself of the MST3K Mantra: “Remind yourself it’s just a show, I should really just try to relax”. It’s perfectly normal for goons to make bad choices and heroes to, likewise, make bad choices. It’s what propels a story along. So I’ll forgive the story for now, and try to enjoy its goofiness.

Rave Master Vol. 2, Chapter 5: Introduction

Through junior high, high school, and early college, I was an otaku. That phrase itself dates me, as I believe the acceptable term today is “weeaboo.” The point being, for a long while I was an anime and manga fan, and was probably pretty obnoxious about it.

Being an anime geek when I was growing up wasn’t like it is today. You couldn’t go down to FYE and buy a DVD of your favorite show, and Netflix didn’t exist, so you bought box sets from eBay with your parents’ credit card. If you wanted merchandise – a t-shirt, a plushie – you were probably out of luck, unless you were looking for pokémon.

If you went to my school, there were a few rules you had to follow. You had to hide your nerdiness away. That meant you didn’t hang up pictures of your favorite anime characters in your locker, you didn’t talk about your favorite shows to people who weren’t otaku, and you definitely didn’t bring your manga to school. Naturally, I broke all these rules. When you’re so unpopular most of your classmates don’t bother to register your existence, you haven’t got much to lose.

So it was in eighth grade, the worst time of anyone’s life, when I discovered manga. The second volume of Rave Master was one of the first mangas I ever owned, and I remember loving the series. My older sister read it as well, but declared that it was dumb. More than a decade later, I’ve started re-reading it to determine who was right.

I never actually owned the first volume of Rave Master, but I remember it well enough. It starts with our hero, Haru, living with his older sister on a small island. Haru is an orphan because of course he is. While fishing one day, Haru catches a creature named Plue, which looks like a snowman with four legs, though is frequently referred to as a dog. Plue is the bearer of Rave, a magical stone that was broken into pieces at the end of a war to stop something called the Overdrive, or a really large explosion.

Plue is shortly joined by Shiba, an old man with a spike on his head. The spike really bothered me, until I realized it was a tuft of hair that made him resemble a unicorn.

Shiba, it turns out, is the current Rave Master. That is, the only person who can use the Rave stones. With Shiba also comes Demon Card, the evil organization that’s searching for Rave. Eventually, it’s discovered that Haru is the new Rave Master, and now he must find all the pieces of Rave and defeat Demon Card. Because we can’t have a manga series starring an old man now, could we? That would be ridiculous!

Near the end of the book, the Ten Powers sword breaks, and Haru leaves his island to find Musica, the blacksmith that first forged the sword, to repair it. Haru and Plue set sail for the seas of adventure, and that’s where the first volume ends.

Got all that? Good.

Dusting off the second book, I realized that the art wasn’t as good as I remember. Certainly, it’s much better than I could do, but the characters’ necks just look way too thin to support their heads. Or is that just part of the anime style of art that I’ve forgotten about? Of course, I shouldn’t be too harsh when the characters from my all-time favorite manga, Dragon Knights, look like this:

Huckleberry Finn Haru and Plue land in Hip Hop Town, and I really like the weird world that the manga-ka, Hiro Mashima, has built for us. The panels can be a bit cluttered because there’s a lot going on, and Mashima’s slipped small background events in. I also want to point out these guys:

The sun and moon, to show time passing. I completely forgot they were in the manga, but I thought they were hilarious as a kid and I love them now. Don’t ask me why.

After getting on shore, Plue promptly gets kidnapped. After a thrilling two pages of Haru searching around town, he finds Plue has been entered into dog races, which are a pretty big deal in town. Okay, I can go with it. What I cannot get past is why someone would actually think that Plue is (a) a dog, and (b) would be any good in a race. This is what the racing dogs look like:

This is Plue.

Plue gets taken off the track for being the worst racing dog ever, and Haru interrupts the race and comes to his rescue, in a mad dash for the arena that would make Legolas proud. I still can’t decide if using non-skateboard things as a skateboard is amazing or stupid. I’m probably going to go with stupid.

Haru beats up some mooks causes enough commotion that the head of the dog racing rink finally appears, who is…*gasp* a member of Demon Card!! So here we have Monster of the Week #1, Georco. Thus ends chapter 5 of Rave Master.

It wasn’t that good. I did like that Haru got completely lost in Hip Hop Town while looking for Plue, which is what I would expect from someone visiting a large city for the first time. There’s some world building already, and it’s pretty fast-paced so far, so it’s easy to keep my attention. Right now I kind of find Haru loud and obnoxious, but maybe that’s because the only character he’s interacted with thus far (that he wasn’t beating up) is some kind of animal that doesn’t talk.

Speaking of Haru beating up mooks, where did he learn how to fight? For a sixteen-year-old kid from a small, peaceful town, he sure knows how to throw a punch. By the time Georco shows up, he’s already taken down about ten other people. As a kid, that seemed perfectly acceptable to me. As an adult, I realize that it’s completely ridiculous unless Haru got a blackbelt before the series started.

Geez, all these things you don’t think of when you’re reading something for the first time.