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  • Writer's pictureAshley Mongrain

ZOMBIEPOWDER. | Review

Updated: Nov 4, 2022

Rating - ⭐⭐⭐


"Gamma Akutabi is a mysterious figure, drifting through the western desert with a giant sword slung over his shoulder and a right arm made completely of metal spreading up and over his cheek. He searches endlessly for a mythical set of 12 Rings of the Dead—jewelry said to give life to the possessor. These rings are hunted by mercenaries and outlaws alike for a wide variety of reasons, but Gamma seeks to grant himself eternal life by possessing all 12.


Gamma comes across teenager John Elwood Shepherd in his travels, who decides to follow Gamma after a brutal fight claims the life of his sister. Elwood seeks to use the Rings of the Dead to bring his sister back to life and quickly develops an admiration for Gamma, whose combat prowess saves Elwood's life time after time. Along the way, the two travelers encounter new friends and old allies from Gamma's past, working with them to defeat enemies who seek to use the Rings of the Dead for their own nefarious purposes."


 

ZOMBIEPOWDER. is a manga series by Tite Kubo. It was serialized by Weekly Shōnen Jump from 1999-2000 and was cancelled with only 26 chapters which were collected into 4 volumes.


I read this as part of an ongoing challenge where I read cancelled manga to see if they had potential or were worth the read. (If you want to check that out you can find it here). As such, this series was indeed cancelled, so if you wanted to read it keep in mind that you will not get the full story.


Now, this series was the predecessor of sorts to Bleach, as they were written by the same author. Bleach I find though is where he hit his stride because this series was a miss for me. I wouldn't say it was terrible, but reading it now shows how is dated it is.


Let's get into the details.


 

WRITING/ART

 

There are only a couple of comments I have for this section. Firstly, there are a lot of panels and bubbles per page which overcrowds the page. Secondly, you can really tell this is by Tite Kubo as his art remains the same in Bleach. Gamma even kind of reminds me of Grimmjow.


One thing I will give the writing is that there are some genuinely funny moments in this, though most of the comedy isn't very good.



 

PLOT

 

Set in a sci-fi western world, when the story is stripped down the concept isn't all that bad. In execution, it isn't the best, but concept-wise it does present an interesting premise. We largely follow Gamma, a wanted criminal, as he searches for the mythical Rings of the Dead. Should all 12 of them be collected, the user will be granted with immortal life or the ability to raise the dead.


Again, a not-so-bad concept that is not done well from the get-go. The story starts off following Elwood, the secondary main character, who joins his quest after his sister is killed. This was not a good set-up partially because it was very typical, and partially because they theoretically could have escaped, they just decided to stand there and argue about escaping instead of actually doing it.


Once Elwood and Gamma meet though, what follows is just a very generic story as they journey to find the rings while encountering bad guys who also want them. Nothing special at all because you just go in circles because of the formulaic way this is written.


Since this was cancelled as well, the story does get cut off abruptly. The first arc ended in chapter 24, but there were 2 chapters left so what you end with is the beginning of a new arc. This is also right when Gamma's backstory was starting to get delved into, so what occurred previously didn't have much substance because the story was only getting started.



 

WORLD-BUILDING

 

I don't really gravitate toward westerns, so the setting was a bit of a miss for me. In terms of the magic system, well, it isn't exactly explained or developed well. The characters mainly use weapons but there is some form of magic in this world, what it is I am not entirely sure. Out of everything, the rings are explained the best, and they are also the monster interesting aspect of the story as well.


Everything else is just a hodgepodge of unexplained abilities. For one, I don't think Gamma and his black arm are explained. For two, he can also use a type of jutsu that no one else used. There is also a psychic character and someone who can use normal magic (like carnival magic). So, you can see why I use the term hodgepodge because there is not one concrete magic system.



 

CHARACTERS

 

The biggest flaw of this series comes with its characters. Gamma was okay, though he did have a really questionable moment which I will get into in a second. Elwood though, was not a good main character to follow. He is a pre-teen boy, and he sure acts like it because he was insufferable. He was pretty much dead weight, as he spent most of the fights in the background unable to do anything. That is made worse by his naivety as he would constantly get himself into danger, and then have Gamma fight for him.


Back to that questionable moment of Gamma's I mentioned though, this occurred towards the end of the series when we are introduced to a new character, a young girl. She is acquainted with Gamma, and the issue I have with that comes in the form of one specific line, where he states that they promised not to kiss until she was 16. Sir, she is 11. That is bad enough on its own, but worse when you wonder just how young she was when they made that promise. This moment was...just...no.



 

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS

 

This series falls straight into the 'meh' category for me, although it did have some real bad moments like the ones I mentioned in the previous section.


At least we ended up getting Bleach after this because that is miles better.

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