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Peace Maker: Volume 1    by Nanae Chrono Amazon.com order for
Peace Maker
by Nanae Chrono
Order:  USA  Can
TOKYOPOP, 2007 (2007)
Paperback
* *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

The first volume of Nanae Chrono's Peace Maker is a typical shonen action manga, but set during the Meiji Revolution (1864). Though the manga came before the immensely popular anime series, the anime arrived in the U.S. first. But that is fine because from what I have seen of the anime, it stays pretty true to the manga.

Tetsunosuke is all alone except from his big brother Tatsunosuke. When Tatsu gets a position as bookkeeper for the Shinsengumi, fifteen-year-old Tetsu wants to join too, to get revenge on his father's killers. However, while Tetsu has a lot of spunk, he is small for his age. One of the most famous members of the Shinsengumi, Souji, sees potential in Tetsu and challenges him to a fight. Due to Tetsu's sheer determination, Vice Commander Hijikata allows Testu to join as his page. Happy to be a member of the Shinsengumi, but unhappy with his role, Testu looks for ways to move up. It is after his first disastrous attempt that Volume 1 ends.

While Peace Maker is well-written and will appeal to fans of anime and of shonen manga in general, there is really nothing that makes it stand out from other manga about the Shinsengumi (a group of samurai who acted as an unofficial police force during the Edo period). Well, except for the pig. Souji's pet pig Saizou, a very memorable character, is what made me realize that one of the animes I have seen was Peace Maker (one of the two episodes I saw actually starts with the last chapter of the first volume of the manga). Many action mangas, both shonen and shojo, have a non-human sidekick character. Usually, this is some fantasy creature with special powers. What makes Saizou so different is that he is just a pig a grumpy-looking pig, but just a plain, ordinary, non-magical pig which supports the historical fiction aspect of Peace Maker.

The story and art of Peace Maker is very straight-forward in the typical shonen style. The one question I have, though, is: why does Souji look like a girl? I was shocked at first to learn he was boy, especially since he is met halfway through the first chapter, but it is not until the end of that chapter that his identity is revealed. I have read another manga with the Shinsengumi where one member appeared very feminine (but it was a shojo series, and it is common in shojo for at least one boy to have girlish looks), but now that I have read two, and one shonen, I realize there must be some reason that I cannot figure out because either because I have not studied Japanese history or because I am a Westerner.

Volume 1 of Peace Maker gives a strong start to a story that will appeal to boys (teenaged boys it is rated OT), especially fans of the anime looking for another Peace Maker fix. While it is mostly an action series, it is steeped in a historical context, which gives it a little extra over other shonen fare.

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