Rave Master Chap. 13: It MUST be a Glass Ceiling

This is it. We’ve finally come to the last chapter of the second volume of Rave Master, lucky number 13. It moves fast, and there’s not a lot of plot to talk about here. The chapter begins with Musica #2 facing off against Lance.

Lance’s sword is able to create illusions of beasts when he swings it. He uses the illusions to distract Musica, and then go in to attack. After his first attack, things get a little stupid.

First, Lance stops the battle because Elie’s time is up. That is, the deadline for Haru to arrive with Rave is past. Wounded Musica doesn’t try to stop him, other than yelling at him. Elie, doesn’t move, even though she was cut loose and her legs function absolutely fine.

Seriously. She doesn’t even attempt to escape. She doesn’t get up, doesn’t run, just sits there and screams Haru’s name. I know that she’s scared, and that Haru was supposed to save her, but I don’t think my last word would be my rescuer’s name, especially when that rescuer doesn’t show up in time. My last words are much more likely to be “Fuck you!” or “This is a cool way to die!”

Fortunately, Haru comes bursting onto the scene…through the ceiling.

This is something I thought was awesome as a kid, and ridiculous as an adult. It just leaves me with so many questions:

  • How did Haru get up to the roof in the first place?
  • Musica already cleared the yard of guards, why didn’t he just go through the front door?
  • Lance essentially invited Haru to come and bring him Rave, so shouldn’t the goons be expecting him and just let him through?
  • How many floors does this place have?
  • How thick is that roof, that a sixteen-year-old kid can break through?
  • Shouldn’t Haru have some kind of injury from falling through the ceiling?
  • Why the ceiling?
  • Should I give up trying to apply logic to this universe?

Musica warns Haru about Lance’s tactic, but Haru already knows. Musica the Blacksmith taught him secret of Lance’s sword: that it can only make illusions when it does a full swing. By blocking his attack, Haru is able to prevent him from creating any distracting illusions. Just when it looks like Haru has the advantage, Lance creates another illusion, this time without swinging his sword…

And that’s it. That’s the end of volume 2.

Re-reading this, I remember why I loved the series when I was younger, but I also understand why my slightly older sister said that it was dumb. The Rave Master universe is a weird, goofy place, but it’s also filled with villains that don’t fit the light-heartedness in the background. One chapter is about saving dogs, another chapter is about a man’s family getting massacred. I think the biggest problem I have is that the darker problems get solved too easily, like Musica the Blacksmith suddenly giving up alcohol after meeting Haru. This time around, I thought Haru was dumb, rather than heroic, but I think that idealism is a big part of his character. The villains weren’t very interesting, and Georco was more annoying than threatening.

Even so, it was fun to read through again.

Final Verdict: For Sale

Even though I bought it more than ten years ago, the book itself is in pretty good shape. Rave Master is an entertaining series, and I’m sure some other young otaku will enjoy it.

Next, I’ll be reviewing a high school favorite of mine: The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer. Stick around!

Rave Master Chap. 12: Your Basic D.I.D

Chapter 12 begins with Musica reforging the sword that once was broken, the Ten Power’s sword. Here’s where I start to get really incredulous. Haru has, at this point, less than two hours to save Elie; therefore, he needs his sword finished in time. Musica even tells him that in his prime, it took a day for him to make a sword. Now, I don’t know much about metalwork, but I’m pretty sure it would be pretty damn hard, if not  impossible, to repair a sword in under two hours. Add on the fact that Musica’s been drunk for the past 15 years, it seems to me this would be well out of the realm of possibility. But story trumps logic, and Musica is able to fix the sword in no time flat. Haru promises to destroy Lance’s sword, and is off to save the girl.

Meanwhile, Elie is chained in Lance’s place, and reminds me why I like her so much. Even though she’s a damsel in distress and waiting for the guys to save her, she’s still a fun and upbeat character. She’s not panicking or crying or just saying Haru’s name, like that will bring him faster. Maybe it’s a bit ridiculous that she’s doing this even when she’s threatened with a sword, I appreciate that she brings some levity to her situation.

Musica the Gangster is waiting for Haru outside Lance’s mansion, but decides to go in by himself as the clock winds down. He wastes no time in beating up the guards outside getting in. His next exchange will Elie represent a huge difference between the thirteen-year-old reading this manga and me, as an adult reading this manga.

Cute, young girl gets captured by a strong, powerful man with no morals, who has her chained up and could do anything he wanted to to her. If this were Game of Thrones, or a crime novel, maybe a TV drama with adults as a target audience, you know exactly where this is going to go.Maybe it’s because I’ve finally read the first book of Game of Thrones, maybe it’s because I’m more aware of sexual assault and rape now than I was, maybe it’s just because I’m an adult and have learned that the world is dangerous, even moreso if you’re a woman…I always get on edge when I hear about situations – fictional or not – like these.

If this is how Game of Thrones treated sexual abuse, I might actually watch it.

But it doesn’t. There’s nothing sexual about this scene. Elie claims that Lance was trying to look down her shirt, but she says that it was a joke. I’m so glad that this scene didn’t go anywhere near that. I remember that Rave Master gets dark in some places. There’s death, suicide, and some reasonably adult themes in the series. But it never goes into sexual assault. There’s a lot of reasons why this might be the case. It’s an action manga, rather than a drama; the target audience is teenagers; it’s too dark.

Whatever reasons Mashima decided not to use it, I’m glad.

I’m also glad that when I was reading this as a young adolescent, the idea that Elie might be raped never even crossed my mind.  It’s a small piece of innocence, but innocence nonetheless. Sometimes I wonder if it would be better if I could still think like that.

Musica fights Lance’s bodyguard, Bis, and there are more puns. When it becomes apparent that Musica is going to win,  Lance cuts down Bis, to prove just how evil he is. Evil, but not interesting. As Musica steps up to fight Lance, Musica the Blacksmith has just finished repairing Haru’s sword. Haru learns that Musica the Blacksmith’s family was murdered by Lance, and Haru vows to destroy Lance’s sword, ending chapter 12.

Right now the story seems pretty generic. Girl gets kidnapped by bad guy, hero goes to save girl, bad guy has no real motivation to be so bad. It really bugs me that Lance is just evil for the sake of being evil. The best villains are the ones that do wrong for reasons they think are right. A good villain believes in something. Lance? He believes in hurting people, mainly for shits ‘n’ giggles. I don’t know about you, but that’s not a cause I can get behind.

Rave Master Cap. 10-11: In Your Eyes

Chapter 10 starts with Haru and Elie meeting up, both happy to tell the other that they’ve found Musica, which might have resulted in some kind of “Who’s on first” comedy, if not for the fact that our heroes get interrupted by Demon Card goons. Haru, Hot-or-Not Musica and Elie start fighting with the mooks, though Elie is quickly rendered useless when her tonfa blasters stop working.

There are also puns.

I love a good pun (is that an oxymoron?), but this just made me groan, and I’m pretty sure the thirteen-year-old version of me was rolling her eyes as well. The trio seem to be in a tight spot, but are saved by a drunken Plue, stabbing his nose into their feet. Why no one thought to kick a small, uncoordinated animal is beyond me. Did their sisters also teach them you shouldn’t be cruel to animals?

Once Haru, Elie, and Musica #2 are out of danger, Musica reveals that his family was killed in an accident years ago, and the blacksmith is clearly a fraud. I think this is supposed to build tension, but if you’ve ever watched an anime or read a manga, you already know that the two Musicas are going to be long-lost something or others, and probably have special powers because of that.

Anyway, it turns out Haru did leave the Rave stone with Musica the Blacksmith, because…


You met the guy twenty minutes ago, and he was horribly, horribly drunk. You’ve been attacked, and have been told that the country only gets more dangerous as you travel. WHY THE HELL DID YOU GIVE HIM THE RAVE STONE?!

I’ll let Musica the Blacksmith sum up my thoughts on this chapter:

Moving on to chapter 11, we get our first glimpse of Lance. He wastes no time in kidnapping Elie, and this is where I realize that she’ll probably be pretty useless for the rest of the series. From what I remember, another volume of Rave Master consists of almost nothing but Elie needing Haru to rescue her. I don’t remember a lot of the series aside from some scenes that really stood out, but I really, really hope that she won’t be the damsel in distress all time time. Lance gives Haru two hours to bring him the Rave stone, or he’ll kill Elie. Because this is still early in the series, there’s no real need to be original, right?

Haru goes back to Musica the Blacksmith to get his sword repaired, only to find Musica being attacked by mooks. Musica says that he’s hidden the Rave somewhere they’ll never find it. To me, that sounds like a secret hiding spot, maybe someplace in his disused forge, or underneath a floorboard, or maybe Musica has a secret room full of awesome swords that he’s forged in the past. Or, you know, in a drawer in plain view of everyone.

The goons are cleared out with a couple punches and Haru explains the situation to Musica. Musica initially refuses to fix the Ten Powers sword, citing that he’s old and washed up. That doesn’t take a keen observer to see. Haru convinces Musica to forge a sword again, not by impressing upon him the need to have a weapon and save Elie’s life–but because he believes in him. 

I’ve read a lot of manga in my time, and this is a medium that truly believes that eyes are the windows to the soul. “You still love him, I can see it in your eyes.” Or, “You’re strong, I see it in your eyes.” Or, perhaps most shojo of all, “You’ve got fire in your eyes.” It seems like a cool sentiment the first time you read it, but then you read it over, and over, and over again. It would seem that all you need to perform a small miracle in the face of insurmountable odds is to look deeply into someone’s eyes and tell them what you see there. In this case, its “You’re better than that. I can see it in your eyes.”

Musica isn’t so readily swayed by Haru’s Peter Gabriel-esque charm, but decides to fix the sword when he learns that Haru will be fighting Lance. Lance, it turned out, killed Musica’s entire family.

When I was a kid, I thought Lance was evil, evil, evil. He killed Musica’s family for no reason! How much worse could you get?

And that’s the problem with Lance that I see as a grown-up. He had no characteristics other than being a psychopath. He is evil for the sake of being evil. He reasons behind it, his motivations, are never further explored. The only backstory we have on this guy is that he killed Musica’s family.

I’m not against fictional psychopathic characters, as long as they’re interesting. There are plenty of well-written characters who are evil for shits ‘n’ giggles, the kind that give you chills when you think about how anyone could be that coldblooded. Not Lance. If we knew anything about him other than “I like to kill things”, maybe he could have been a great villain. Instead, he just falls flat.

 

Rave Master Chap. 9: Speedy Sobriety

There’s one thing I’ve always loved about Rave Master: the cover art for each of the chapters. It’s the sort of thing I would draw if I had any artistic ability. Every time I see one of them I think that Mashima must have had a grand time working on them. They don’t have anything to do with the story, they’re just fun. The one for chapter nine, though, was my favorite as a kid and is my favorite as an adult.

I just love that! Where’s that manga? I would absolutely read Rave Master as a medieval fantasy. Of course, I’m reading it now anyway, so….

Anyway, Haru, Elie and Plue make their way to Punk Street. Like the rest of the manga so far, I’m having the most fun looking at the settings that Mashima’s put in. There’s a lot to see, and often jokes or small stories going on behind the main one. It’s an enjoyable Easter egg hunt.

The trio decides to split up, Haru and Plue to get food, and Elie to go gambling. I don’t know exactly what money Elie has to go gambling with, as she spent everything she had on the dog race earlier. I’m pretty sure she didn’t get any of her cash back after blowing up the stadium. They both agree to look for Musica and meet back later.

Anyway, I had to stop reading for a minute when I came to this panel:

FINALLY.

It always bewildered me that people would see Plue and think, “it’s a dog”. Or, worse, “it’s a bug”. People are actually freaking out about the weird thing eating lollipops.

I remember watching the anime Gankutsuou when I was in high school, and one of the characters in it had blue skin. One, out of the entire cast. No one every said, “hey, he has blue skin, that’s weird.” It bugged the hell out of me. So, everyone’s bewilderment over what the hell Plue is – even if only for one panel – is awesome, and so much better than the crowd accepting him the minute the see him.

Anyway, Haru runs into a crazy drunk guy at the restaurant who claims to know where to find Musica. Haru tries to get the drunk guy home, who engages in some dancing and some crying, antics that were hilarious to me as a kid, but not so much anymore.

Alcohol dependency! Hilarious!

 

More hilarity does (not) ensue when Plue gets drunk as well. Haru, frustrated by all this, throws a conveniently placed bucket of water at the drunk. As soon as the water hit him, he begins to melt–

–No, wait, that would make more sense than what actually happens next.

As soon as he gets doused, he sobers up.

This is another trope I can’t stand. Please allow Morbo to explain:

Listen up, anime. We need to have a little talk about alcohol:

  • If you are drunk and have a bucket of water thrown on you, you don’t become sober. You become drunk and wet.
  • If you’ve been off your face for days and suddenly hear that the man who murdered your father is in town, your oath of vengeance will not sober you up. You will be drunk and pissed off.
  • If you’ve drank too much sake at the cherry blossom festival and an alien attacks, you will not become sober just long enough to save the day. You’re more likely to trip over your katana that your master handed down to you than anything.
  • If you wait long enough and rehydrate yourself, you will become sober, often followed by a hangover.

I know that suspension of disbelief lets fiction get away with a lot, but this is ridiculous.

Anyway, the magically sober man finally reveals that he is Musica, the legendary blacksmith, surprising absolutely no one. He agrees to fix the Ten Powers sword with the caveat that Haru stays away from the shop during that time.

One weird thing I remember about Rave Master is that the name of Haru’s sword changes between the first and second volumes. The sword itself has ten different forms, and Haru can switch between its forms if he has the right Rave stone. In the first book, it was called the Ten Commandments. Maybe because I was raised Catholic and went to Catholic school for most of my life, I thought this was a completely badass name for a sword. In the second book, it’s known as the Ten Powers. I have to wonder if Mashima changed the name of the sword, if there was some kind of translation error, or if keeping the name “Ten Commandments” was too potentially offensive for Western audiences.

Tokyopop – at least when I was reading manga all the freaking time – wasn’t known for being consistent with names, especially with fantasy series when there’s lots of made-up names. I thought that the sword’s name might change from volume to volume, but it remained the “Ten Powers” sword ever since.

Translated manga is weird.

If you ask me, Haru probably shouldn’t have left his sword with a drunk guy that he met not ten minutes ago. Especially because the minute he leaves the smithy, you find out Musica agreed to give Haru’s Rave stone to Demon Card.

So…Demon Card doesn’t know Haru’s in town, didn’t know Haru would be going to Musica, and trusted an alcoholic with that is incredibly important.

Oh, wait, maybe they trusted Musica with it because he can magically sober up.

No, Rave Master, I’m not forgiving you for that one.

C’mon, he’s a total bad boy!

At the same time, Elie is gleefully leaving a casino and runs into another guy…who also happens to be named Musica. Now, as a thirteen-year-old girl reading this, I was always on the lookout for bishis. That is, the pretty anime boys worthy of squealing over. The moment I saw Musica #2, I knew he was the bishi I had been waiting for.

Yep, I immediately declared him the hot guy and ran to show my sister his picture. She saw him and informed me that he was “butt ugly”. And if my older sister didn’t like he was cute, then he probably wasn’t. After all, she knew more about that kind of thing than I did.

And so chapter 9 ends, with me wondering if Musica #2 was cute or not.