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Hand x Red Manga Quarterly Review

Since it’ll be too hard on your heart if I said all of the secrets at once, I’ll explain one to each of the images in this post, so by the time you learn all of the secrets and become a really cool person, you’ll also have read my not-so-cool post. Bwahaha.

Jim is this regular teenage boy. He’s been orphaned due to the war as a child, and is training in some magical academy à la The Legend of the Legendary Heroes. One day, he meets Luca, another war orphan, who transfers into the academy after his entire village was murdered. While Jim doesn’t like studying and prefers to nap (similar to the protagonist of another similar series – except, Jim really does have absolutely no magical talent), Luca is a magical genius, with not only a literal shit-ton of raw magical power inside him, but also being, well, a genius. However, his body and spirit are weak.

One day, a group of magicians attack the academy. There is a war going on – the people who razed Luca’s village were merely new recruits testing their powers. While one country trains its soldiers via magic academies, the other country merely throws everybody on the frontlines in a survival of the fittest test (not a pun) – whoever survives is obviously a good soldier and worth training, and the ones who die aren’t. The group of magicians, envying the students’ peaceful lifestyles, devastate the academy.

Sometime later, Jim decides to make a contract with Luca – they cast a Forbidden Spell, a spell of such power that, well, it’s forbidden. They trade hearts – Jim gives half of his heart to Luca, and Luca gives half of his heart to Jim. However, Luca soon betrays him and turns to the side of evil. The contract said something about something, and because of it, Jim is banished to 100 years of limbo before being able to live again.

After 100 years, Jim comes back to Earth, but finds out he can only stay for 10 days before being banished to nothingness for another 100 years. After a few (or no) iterations, he meets a guy, Logo, and together, they attempt to kill Luca. However, he fails, and 100 years later, he comes back to Earth again.

Now, for a brief break – the moment you’ve been waiting for! The first secret is to be hard on peoples’ hearts. That’s the true spirit of friendship/loyalty/love/whatever-you-want-people-for.

This is easier to achieve if you’re an insane 80-year-old grandmother.

Back to plot.

The story doesn’t go in chronological progression, however. In fact, the manga starts now, as Jim is back on Earth for only 10 days. He meets a young swordsman-in-training, Virgil (who looks exactly like child-Luca, complete with Dumbledore-glasses. I just realized that the only person in all of these pictures is Jim.), who lives in Rockland, a town that survives by exporting… rocks. Jim always spawns close to Luca on Earth, and so he knows that Luca’s close to Rockland. The entire story is basically standalone – a pilot for the manga, if you will. The entire story of Jim and Virgil’s 10 days together are only ~90 pages long.

Jim meets Logo again, now a hundred years older than Jim – Jim doesn’t age while in limbo. Logo gives him a sword that can cut spells, and Jim finds out that the King of Rockland is actually Luca. However, upon reaching Luca, the sun has already begun to rise, and Jim returns to limbo after slicing off Luca’s hand.

Apparently, Jim is with Logo in limbo or somehow, as Logo has died. Which doesn’t really make sense, since Logo should’ve went to heaven/hell while Jim stayed in limbo – so it’s probably just an expression. Unless he kept Logo’s katana, but he doesn’t keep any clothes when he respawns… oh well. He doesn’t age in limbo, but does he have to go through every single one of those 100 years, or is it just like sleeping – though we sleep for several hours, it feels like much less (unless you have lucid dreams, which I have every day. And fuck they’re annoying as hell, so whenever I’m in a lucid dream I just sleep in the dream, except whenever I do that monsters or giant spiders or lions or sharks or zombies attack me).

100 years later, Jim spawns again. An old insane woman, Fatome, thinks that Jim’s her missing grandson and takes him in. On the 10th day, Jim finds Luca, who’s trying to escape – Luca injured himself, and did not have a physical body (similar to Voldemort). Fatome runs after Jim, but her weak heart starts to fail, and Jim saves Fatome instead of killing Luca – just as Luca planned, for Luca knew of Jim’s personality. This ‘second-shot’ is ~50 pages long, and is also a standalone story.

The final story in the first volume has Jim respawn in a laboratory, where Luca (who’s now at least 400 years old) traps him and paralyzes his entire body. Jim passes out, and the second volume outlines his and Luca’s past at the academy.

So, now, the second secret:

To make people think you’re very friendly and approachable, it’s always nice to have a couple of animal companions, especially if they’re extremely ugly – that will show them that you don’t care too much about their outward appearance.

A word of caution: be careful not to be eaten by your animal companion.

From here on, I’m assuming you’ve read the manga up to Chapter 13. If you haven’t, go read it! It’s a very entertaining read that will keep you glued to your feet until you realize that if you weren’t glued to your feet then your feet would fall off.

There are a variety of characters in Hand x Red. I really doubt Virgil and Fatome will show up in later chapters – after all, there’s no way commoners like them could’ve survived 300, 400 years, right? There is actually no story as to what Logo and Jim did against Luca, and it would be interesting to develop Logo as a character a bit more, though it would be useless – after all, he died in the second chapter!

It’s interesting how it’s a big story stretching across centuries while still somewhat being a school-life story as the people at the school are forced to fight for their lives. I wonder how the people at the academy are going to make a reappearance – or are they never? It’s hard to see where Hand x Red’s plot is going to go.

To be honest, once every 20 years for a month would be better to establish continuity and see the change in the world – it’s stupid how there’s basically no change for centuries. People are still wearing the same types of clothes (and lol, nobody in any era ever wore those clothes, right? They’re just stupid clothes, only worn by fantasy characters in MMOs), with the same level of technology. There are no firearms in the story – people all attack with swords, bows, or magic. People don’t have computers, or concrete, or cars. I guess it sort of makes sense if this story started, say, three or four centuries before the fall of the Roman Empire, in which technology is basically a dead halt – yet, in Hand x Red, people are already scientists and scientific, knowing about atoms, elements, chemical reactions, and the like. There’s no way a technological revolution could not have happened, unless all that information was somehow lost.

It’s funny how Jim is so relaxed and takes life so easily in the first nine days, but starts getting rushed on the final day – similar to how, in REDLINE (awesome movie, btw – will get a post up after I watch it a the third time) after the destruction of Funky Boy, JP and Sonoshee are so calm and taking their sweet time, but at the end, every microsecond counts in the final race against Machine Head. I bet he likes taking machine head

How did Jim get so powerful, anyways? He wasn’t particularly powerful at the school – his physical strength is undoubtedly weaker than that of even a normal footsoldier. Yet, he easily defeats the King’s elite guards in the second chapter. He also can’t use magic, but fights on near-even grounds with Luca, who’s centuries older than him.

Oh well, let’s take a short break, and I’ll teach you the third secret…

It’s pretty simple if you’re living in a third-world country. That is, you must be very mindful of your own smell. The secret here is not the brand of shampoo, conditioner, freshener, toothpaste, or deodorant you use
– the trick is to smell so bad that every girl will go tsundere for you because of your smell.

Scientifically proven to work, 100(±200)% of the time!

HOFFMAN IS SUPER COOL and I wish I knew his 5 secrets. BUT I DO, and that’s why I’m telling them to you right now. I wonder why the principal says that he’s his son, when he has no legal relatives? Apparently, Luca has already underwent a magical ‘growth spurt’, making him SUPER POWERFUL, but the principal says that Hoffman will go through one, too… I wonder what role he’s going to play later on. I really, really hope that the characters from the school somehow reappear, though the entire premise of the story makes it somewhat impossible. More backstory for Allen and Zelime would be nice too, as they were killed basically without doing anything at all. Actually, Hoffman isn’t that super cool, as he cries like a crybaby when he realizes everybody’s dead. YET THOSE EYES

I wonder if Allen can control where to freeze people. That way, he’d have a clear motive for infiltrating the girl’s dorm – he’ll simply freeze them so that they can’t move, and then do those things to them. He’s a similar age to them, right?

Though the once-in-a-hundred-years in Hand x Red is very innovative, the school-being-attacked story wasn’t as creative – it’s always happened, right? Especially the parts where the students help defend the school and the principal isn’t just a stupid principal parts – that has been done in basically every story, ever.

The second volume ends with Sandra, the teacher, versus the last survivor of the attacking magicians, Cuzco. I wonder if Sandra’s going to appear later or leave a legacy or something like that. Most likely the only way the characters from the school will appear is if Jim pulls a Shaman King ending and defeats Luca with the power of friendship or whatever.

Since we’re talking about friendship anyways, let’s move on to the next secret:

Now, this is harder to pull off than the others, but people generally like very honest, truthful, trustworthy men (or women). Most religious figures are just that – very trustworthy, very pure. Very holy. Thus, one of the best ways to get men and women to like you is to become a very holey figure.

This man is successful – don’t you just want to holed him in your arms?

Through it all, one message stands strong – that Luca is cold-hearted, but Jim is still human – while Luca’s only goal is to kill Jim, and will do that via any means, Jim’s only goal is also to kill Luca, but is willing to wait until he can do it without directly incurring any further casualties. Yet, he might indirectly be creating more casualties by letting Luca live – perhaps Luca killed many other people in his quest to kill Jim, so Jim’s path may not be the right one. Two rights might make a wrong – the road to Hell is paved with good intentions. So that you can step on them with your foot. Step step step.

Jim learns things too, things like trying to enjoy life. Yet, that’s rather pushed on him – after all, if he can’t really live, why should he enjoy life? Maybe he should just forget about killing Luca and realize that he can live throughout the ages, even if it’s just ten days in a hundred years. He’ll die of old age, eventually – though maybe he won’t, as 400-year-old Luca hasn’t died yet.

I haven’t spoken much about the art, so I’ll tell you that it’s rather good – it feels old-fashioned, like it’s from the Golden Age of Manga (which is ~1930-2011). The pace and drama are executed well, but not brilliantly – Hand x Red doesn’t particularly stand out for anything but its strange premise. No doubt that was what was developed first – the premise – before starting to think of what the plot would be like. It was probably envisioned as a series of short stories, which could be the case if Jim decided to enjoy life living like he does – short, 10-day stories on society changing every 100 years. No doubt, that’d be interesting if somebody wrote one of those about real life – 26 chapters, with one chapter each century, starting from 400 BCE going until a hypothetical 2101, when war was beginning.

The final ending is definitely going to be a moral conflict, though. Is Luca going to change to realize the value of human life, and become like Jim? Or is Jim going to change, creating an unending series of conflict? Whichever the ending, I’m looking forward to it.

Just as you are definitely looking forward to the final secret, which will turn you from a drab dab loser to the fab frag winner you want to be.

The fifth and final secret:

Though you think you’re so cool now and people all love you, the truth is that

Congratulations on attaining monster-hood!
(You should now be a smelly, heartbreaking, beast-summoning monster with a hole in your heart.)

This post brought to you by SECRET-MMOG – the Scientific Experts Circle to Recruit Enemies To Massive Multiplayer Online Games. Where did you think all of those monsters came from?

P.S. WHO THE HECK IS KARTH? WHAT A STUPID GUY. I wonder if he’ll appear later.

4 responses

  1. Enix Gonzales

    Too bad after the 19th chapter we probably won’t see any more as the series was put on hiatus/dropped by the mangaka :|

    2011/08/27 at 13:28

  2. Dropped by mangaka? :|

    I thought it’d be dropped by scanlators or something.

    Uhh, 19th chapter is end of second volume, right? Why would he stop publishing something without actually ending it :|

    2011/08/29 at 22:19

  3. Enix Gonzales

    No. It was dropped by the mangaka. Chapter 19 is the last chapter of the THIRD volume. There’s no other volume after this one.

    2011/09/01 at 02:58

  4. Second/third is sort of the same in terms of ‘there are only this many volumes published’.

    Ending directly on a cliffhanger is also sorta…

    Oh well, iskultrip even says so. I guess… this is an alternative to end a series? Leave the readers guessing? Stay tuned for a post soon :|

    2011/09/01 at 04:17