Barrage | Review
Rating - ⭐⭐⭐
"The discovery of alien life has turned the once serene planet Industria into a world of racism and perpetual conflict. Young orphan Astro lives his life with one goal: to work hard and earn enough wages to care for a group of fellow orphans he has adopted as his own family. Astro's simple life is disrupted when he encounters Bulge, the Crown Prince of Industria who is his age and shares his exact face. The prince is fleeing his royal obligations in pursuit of debauchery.
The royal military captures Astro after mistaking him for the prince, ripping the young orphan away from the family he cares about. With the King of Industria misidentifying Astro as his own son, the boy is forced into the royal lifestyle. He spends his days training in the art of combat under the high-ranking young soldier Tiamat, whose only perceivable weakness is a crippling fear of women.
After foiling an assassination plot and awakening the powers of the ancient lance Orgue, Astro is sent off with Tiamat to train with his new weapon to end the petty conflict between humans and aliens across the planet's surface."
Barrage is a manga series written and illustrated by Kōhei Horikoshi. This was serialized in 2012 on Weekly Shōnen Jump. It concluded with 16 chapters collected into 2 volumes.
Before getting into the details, I first wanted to state that I read this for an ongoing reading challenge where I read cancelled manga to see if they had potential and were worth the read or not. So, this series was indeed cancelled, so keep in mind that you are not going to get a complete story if you read this.
Now, for a story written by the creator behind My Hero Academia, a.k.a. one of the best-selling series currently, I was expecting this to be less underwhelming than it ended up being (despite the fact that was indeed cancelled). I wouldn't say this was bad, but it wasn't anything particularly good.
Let's get into the details.
I don't have much to say in this section because, well, there isn't much to note. The artwork was fine and you can visibly see how the character design in this influences the characters in My Hero Academia. Astro looks like pre-U.A. Kirishima, Tiamat looks like Aizawa and a character, whose name I forgot, who looks like Uraraka.
One thing that I enjoyed where the little bonus pages at the end of the chapter. It cracked me up when Horikoshi wondered what Tiamat would look like if he had 100 vertebrae in his neck, and then stated that it was 4 am but he was fine.
This is a SFF story which follows Astro, whose encounter with Prince Barrage ends up changing his life forever. In an unprecedented circumstance, his encounter results in the Prince being murdered, and Astro is given the choice to take his place due to their uncannily similar appearances. Astro, having to grasp with his new life and the challenges that come with it, is joined by Tiamat, a member of the military force.
If anything, this series reminds me of Edens Zero, though I liked that series better because the magic system and the world were better developed. With this series, the world-building felt a bit dated, though this did come out in 2012. While there is some form of magic in this world, Astro's comes in the form of the orgue, an ancient treasure of the royal family that can rule a planet. With Astro wielding this overly powerful object, they naturally encounter people who want to have it for themselves.
The issue here though, on top of the lacklustre plot and world-building, is that this makes the story rather formulaic. They wander the planet while encountering foes and meeting new allies and...that is pretty much it. That being said though, this does have some semblance of an ending. The plot does progress really quickly in order to get there, and in some predictable ways, but it got there nonetheless (kind of).
The characters, in all honesty, weren't badly written. Astro for one managed to not be insufferable despite being a younger character, and I rather like his backstory. It is admirable how he leaped headfirst into his new life in order to give his family, a group of fellow orphans, a chance for a better life.
You can tell the creator also wanted to give some depth to the characters, which you can see with Tiamat and his duality. He is a military man with a tough exterior, who absolutely cannot talk to girls whatsoever. What I also like about him is that he had no tolerance for Astro's self-sacrificing nature.
So, not great, but also not terrible. This acts more like a stepping stone before My Hero Academia, since he took quite a long break before that was published and was able to flesh out that story a lot better.
Again though, in terms of SFF series, of the shonen variety to be specific, Edens Zero was good though it is more mature. There is also Gintama which I am currently making my way through, albeit at an incredibly slow pace.