Today’s review was brought to you by the kindness of Okazu Superhero Louis P, and I have to really commend him for his patience and perseverance, finding all three volumes of this obscure little series. Many thanks Louis!
And when I say “obscure” I mean that it was published by CMX, the manga imprint run by DC Comics. They were primed for success – really talented editors and some strong titles out of the gate, but. With a number of early controversies and DC’s strategic shift away from all their innovative ways to branch out into new comics and manga into making movies about the old characters, CMX was just one of a number of heads on DC’s chopping block in 2010.
The basic premise of Steel Fist Riku is something any older manga fan might instantly recognize – it’s a classic “perpetually hungry martial artist action-comedy.” In this iteration, we meet Riku, who lives with her adoptive father running a celebrity photo store, while training with him in his family style of martial arts.
In the course of the story, Riku is given a male rival who could be a love interest if they wanted, but thankfully they don’t. And she has, in the course of three volumes, more than one female friend, which goes a really long way to making this manga readable. Riku is herself a likable enough character. She’s very strong, always hungry and prone to getting involved in situations that just happen to need her fighting skills to resolve. As one does.
The only truly negative thing about the series is the main, often repeated, joke. Riku’s martial style is triggered by breathing and to do that, she has to pull off the binders from her chest. Aha.ha.ha. Ha.
Despite this not-terribly-funny joke, the manga is generally quite enjoyable. Riku’s nickname comes from her mysterious ability to turn her left arm to steel, a technique that would naturally come in handy in a fight.
This skill is so mysterious, Riku herself has no idea where it comes from . In fact, she knows little about her own history, as she was a foundling. When she encounters another person with the same skill, she’s excited to meet someone who can tell her about herself! Unfortunately, he’s a criminal and not willing to divulge any information. Nonetheless, Riku finds something even more important – her mother. So the series comes to a happy conclusion, despite the somewhat abrupt end.
I quite liked the village, in which animal-people lived side by side with humans with no apparent tension.
But why, you must be asking by now, did Louis send you this pleasant, but obscure martial arts comedy? Thanks for asking! In one scene Riku picks up some side work as security at rich man’s mansion. In between resolving some family drama and fighting off thieves, Riku is quite dashing in her suit…regulation wear, according to the boss.
And when Riku and her childhood friend Oguri meet again and get past their issues, one could easily see them being very slashable if one was inclined.
Steel Fist Riku had a lot of things to like about it, especially if you were a Ranma 1/2 fan, as it steals quite heavily from Takahashi Rumiko’s formula.
Art – 7 Adequate, if not quite up to the fighting
Story – 8, Cute with moments of very decent
Characters – 8 Better than one might expect, given the premise.
Service – 4 Not quite as bad as one might expect, given the premise.
Overall – A solid 7. This might be something to ask Global Bookwalker to pick up for us. It’s not going to be reprinted, and probably not worth all the effort Louis put into getting it for me, but still was a fun read. ^_^