El-Hazard, Vol. 1: The Magnificent World
Based on the anime of the same name, this graphic novel series starts with a whirlwind of action. An unusual earthquake opens up a hole in the ground, into which science-whiz Makoto Mizuhara falls while being chased by his megalomaniacal high-school nemesis, Katsuhiko Jinnai. As Makoto's friends scramble to save him, he discovers mysterious glyphs on what appear to be temple walls. He also finds a statue of a woman so beautiful, he feels compelled to kiss it. Magically, it comes to life and embraces him, calling him by name. Makoto suddenly finds himself sent to the enchanted world of El-Hazard, where a battle for power is underway. An army of evil gigantic bugs is fighting the good forces of the Kingdom of Roshtaria, and Makoto gets swept into the melee when he attempts to save a young girl from being kidnapped by the bugs. Eventually he meets El-Hazard's three high priestesses; Rune Venus, the beautiful princess of Roshtaria; and, to his surprise, his teacher Mr. Fujisawa, who has also been transported to El-Hazard and has roles to play in the conflict. The story adaptation, which was not produced by the anime's original artists, has a slapdash feel, though the art looks authentic enough. As the characters aren't very emotionally complex, and spelling mistakes and bad jokes abound, the book as a whole is less than compelling. Fans of anime titles and hard-core otaku will seek this out, but general readers will probably skip this for something more substantial.