An Epic Fantasy Adventure in 11 Parts
If you're a regular reader of SRM, you probably know that I absolutely LOVE the RPG series Suikoden from Konami. I love it even more than that OTHER big RPG from Square. Even if the structure will usually be the same (hero must find and bring together the 108 Stars of Destiny to defeat a great evil), the telling of the epic adventures has always been full of great stuff- conspiracies, political maneuverings, personal and large-scale conflicts and lots of great characters. With the exception of Suikoden IV, I've loved pretty much every one of the games, with Suikoden II and V topping my list.
A close third is, interestingly enough, Suikoden III. While I admit I have not finished the game, I really have fond memories of this game thanks to the great characters and the cool story. And so, I committed to collecting the manga that re-tells the story of the RPG. It's been several years but FINALLY, finally, the manga adaptation of Suikoden III is complete.
Manga-ka Aki Shimizu has done an admirable job of translating the complex story of a war between various factions and nations within the embattled Grasslands, a conflict whose viewpoint is seen through not one, not two or even three sides of the story. While the main characters of Hugo, Chris and Geddoe are retained as the leads, you still find yourself caring for their comrades and families, who are themselves given good exposure. In fact, Shimizu tries and pretty much succeeds to give pretty much every 108 Star of Destiny some role in the manga... not an easy feat.
The story is complex but not that hard to follow thanks to extensive notes and recaps in every book. The art as well is quite excellent, capturing for the most part the style of the source material and even expounding on the characters. The action scenes and battles are exceptionally well done as well, with lots of cool magic and clashing weapons making for much drama.
I've not seen any other RPG given such detailed and faithful adaptation as with Suikoden III, perhaps due to the difficulty of adapting the often twisting stories in such games. Shimizu however succeeds in bringing a work that not only captures the plot and feel of the game but stands on it's own as a wonderful fantasy adventure enjoyable not only by fans of the game, but by manga lovers in general looking for great art and story.
Suikoden III manga is an 11-volume series from Tokyo Pop. Look for it at Comic Quest and other good comic book specialty stores or shops.
After reading the manga, I suddenly have the urge to bring out the old PS2 disc and start playing again. Vinay Del Zexay, here I come. Heh.