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The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society
Miscellanea and Ephemeron

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09/04/2007 Archived Entry: "Manga review: Heroes Are Extinct, Vol. 1"

Heroes Are Extinct!, Vol. 1
By Ryoji Hido
Digital Manga Publishing

Review by Tom Good

Spoiler warning: this review contains some plot spoilers for the manga.

The clever premise of Heroes Are Extinct allows it to get away with using some very well-worn plot elements, yet give them a new flavor. Grand Galactic General Cassiel, hero of the Bazue empire, arrives to conquer Earth. And because he has watched too many anime, he believes that a team of Earth's heroes will be waiting to engage him in glorious battle. When no such team shows up, Cassiel completely changes his strategy.

Cassiel halts the invasion, make a temporary retreat, and secretly trains a team of heroes so that his army will have someone to fight against. He rounds up a group of five young students and starts to turn them into the "Earth Force Terra Rangers" who will defend the planet against the alien fleet. Unlike most manga with similar themes, here the kids realize right away how ludicrous this idea is, and they assume Cassiel is a madman. (He probably is, but not only for the reasons they have in mind.)

The story then starts to parody Power Rangers. The kids comment on how much their training reminds them of "those TV shows we used to watch as kids." Cassiel teaches them silly poses and slogans, gives them some high-tech equipment to help them out, and even assigns them each a color. He encourages them and builds up their confidence, but of course it is all a scam. Cassiel just wants the conquest of Earth to be the exciting battle he originally imagined. Or does he really intend to give the kids a chance to win?

This aspect of deception gives the book an added depth and a different kind of comedy. It makes fun of the typical team of school-age warriors, but has a darker side that is also funny. That puts a different spin on some of the corny lines, like when Cassiel asks the team, "Can you really let our beloved mother Earth fall into the hands of these invaders?" That line can only work because Cassiel is both the group's leader and its alien nemesis.

The art is on the generic side: not bad but not spectacular. But this manga works pretty well as a comedy. It was a fun read, and I will have to find out where the plot goes from here.

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