“The robot is going to lose. Not by much. But when the final score is tallied, flesh and blood is going to beat the damn monster.” -Adam Smith
This week’s review is Edenworld Saga by Chris Crontiris, and edited by Jason Lanum. What’s a webcomic doing with an editor? I dunno. I suspect that in this case he helps with grammar and such. That’s a guess - I looked around on the site and couldn’t find any bios on the creative team. I’m very interested to know more about these people. Why am I interested? Because this thing rocks.
I have to mention something up front; I love giant robots. A lot. But just because I like the robots doesn’t mean Edenworld gets a free pass. Quite the contrary. There’s nothing that bugs me quite the same way as a badly done mecha story, simply because I want them to be good, and if they fall short of the mark I am more disappointed than I would normally be.
But gladly, this is not the case with Edenworld Saga. I was not disappointed - I was thrilled. The designs are brilliant, and the artwork is outstanding. The story is rich and detailed. Is this in print? The quality is there. If it’s not in print yet, someone should give these guys a call. It would be right at home next to any manga book out there.
I don’t claim to be a manga expert or anything. I own a lot of stuff by Masamune Shirow, some Miyazaki and I have a few of the Battle Angel Alita books. I tend to avoid manga online because the stories are usually very slow-paced with long story arcs and involved characters and relationships - not that that’s a bad thing, but it’s a big investment of time. I don’t want to try and get my head around a bunch of convoluted backstory and whatnot only to find out that I don’t like where the story is going for whatever reason. So I was a bit hesitant when I took my first look at Edenworld. It looks a bit Voltron to me, a bit Transformers, a bit Gundam. So it could have gone either way. There’s lots of people out there that are inspired by these properties, and not all of them are up to the task. I was not overly happy with some of the Transformers comics that have come out over the years. But I digress.
The backstory of this epic (and it is an epic, in the manga tradition) is modeled on Norse mythology. People familiar with terms like Yggdrasil, Norns and Jotun will recognize the hierarchy Crontiris has set up in this world. The robots are sentient creatures, who live in a state of animosity with their human neighbors as well as terrible dragons who wreak havoc on their settlement of Jotunheim. This is a world that seems like a fantasy world, but the magic and miracles have an underlying logic of highly advanced science. I could go into detail about this world, but it would make for a very long review. Suffice it to say that it feels very well thought-out, and as far as I’ve read, it doesn’t break its own rules (which is the cardinal sin of fantasy writing).
The backstory and plot don’t dominate the script. It’s all about the characters. These robots have familial bonds. There is a love story between Lyron (one of the gigantic Jotun) and Panchun (a human) which is very interesting to watch play out, since they are so different from each other. Some of the Jotun are brothers, and the fierce scrapper Beowulf is very protective of his little brother Ennesix. These robots have very distinct personalities, which is the key that allows the reader to be drawn in to the drama.
The only reason I gave Edenworld 4.5 stars instead of 5 was the art. While it is beautifully designed, the linework and shading is often a bit vague, leaving many panels a bit indistinct and difficult to interpret. I got the sense that the artist would like to eventually colour the art, but the story is shortchanged in the meantime. Stronger linework to clarify characters from backgrounds and denser shading would really help make this work in black and white.
So to sum up, I know manga isn’t for everyone. If you don’t like Robotech or Gundam or Voltron or Appleseed or Nausicaa, then you won’t like Edenworld Saga either. It is definitely is in the same league.
by Chris Crontiris
reviewed by Crackwalker