Source: Viz – I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Series: Juni Taisen #1
Edition: ebook 184 Pages
Genre: Fantasy Manga
Purchase: Amazon / Audible / Barnes & Noble
Rating: 3/5 Stars
Twelve fighters enter, one fighter leaves—who will win the 12th Zodiac War?
Every 12 years, 12 fighters take the form of the Chinese zodiac and engage in a battle royale. With their strength and mysterious powers, they fight to the death and the sole survivor is granted the ultimate prize—any wish.
Eleven of the twelve fighters have gathered, and everyone awaits the final contender—Boar. She is strong, confident and a favorite to win the twelfth Zodiac War. However, this time, the rules have changed! The battle is limited to an abandoned city and all of the contestants are forced to ingest a deadly poison. Monkey tries to call a truce, but before she can the floor explodes, scattering all the fighters. Despite the chaos, one thing’s for sure—only one will remain standing.
Juni Taisen: Zodiac War is exactly as it sounds. The twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac are represented by twelve fighters, and they have been entered into a battle royale where the last one alive is granted a wish.
I previously watched the anime earlier this year, so I know where this manga is going, however, I was curious to see how well it translated to the page and if they would keep it faithful to the show or not. One thing I can say is that I really enjoy how quickly this gets into the action and fights between the characters. The pacing is odd on this one, it moves very quickly right up until it hits a character’s backstory and while the backstories are really interesting and need it just seemed to throw off the balance somehow.
The character designs are pretty interesting as well. There are some misses like Rooster’s super revealing outfit, which is just there for aesthetic, while cute is kind of idiotic given the nature of the event. I do like the small touches that really pull together the zodiac animal, like Boar’s tusk earrings. Each character also comes with a ‘power’ of sorts, which we get to see in action but are rarely ever explained fully. Boar has an ability called ‘Making it Rain’ (yes…) where she can shoot her guns rapidly without having to reload, which is really cool…but it’s never explained how one gets that specific of a magic power. In addition to their powers, they also do a sort of video game type introduction with each other, where they face off and announce who they are. It’s super cheesy and probably totally unneeded because all of them are mercenaries who have heard of each other, right now I enjoy it but I can see it getting repetitive.
Overall, I enjoyed this. It wasn’t anything overly mind-blowing, but it is a really cool concept and it’s a good popcorn read. Be aware it is a fairly violent book and some the character designs are revealing, so if that’s something you dislike then you might want to skip it.