The Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter manga is so reminiscent of the Monster Hunter game series that it was like taking a step back in time to my younger days when the PSP was the handheld that ruled the market. The manga captures all the things we loved about the Monster Hunter franchise, including the feel of the gameplay, and translates it beautifully into this new manga series which, much like its counterpart, both excite me but inevitably comes up short of amazing.
A world where Monsters run free
The series is set in an age where monsters roam free and dominate the world. Much like the animals of our own world, monsters soar through the skies, fill the seas and walk the earth. The only real difference being they are bigger, stronger and equipped with dangerous skills which truly make their existence a bit frightening to consider.
The era is one in which humanity itself is just a little past being primitive which greatly adds not only to the danger of these creatures, but also the worth of the titular Monster Hunters. The concept is simple; the Monster Hunters are those brave enough to face off against these fearsome creatures. Be it for gathering food for themselves or sale, gaining material to craft gear or in the heroic pursuit of protecting people from harm, the series pegs the Monster Hunters as a crucial profession necessary for the life. It is quite easy to get swept up in the ideal of it all and start planning your own monster hunting adventure. Thank Capcom there is a game to help us work through it.
A Hunting Adventure
Keiichi Hikami’s Flash Hunter follows Raiga, a young hunter with dreams of rising through the ranks of the hunter’s guild straight to the top so as to one day become the resident hunter responsible for protecting his home town. The young swordsman is shown to be energetic and reckless with a passion for monster hunting which, though at first seems shallow, is revealed along the course of the volume as driven by his honest desire to become a great protector, due in large part to events from his childhood. As the story begins, a wrench is thrown into the works of Raiga’s life as his usual hunting party is disbanded. Refusing to give up on his dream of becoming a great hunter Raiga continues on alone until the intervention of a strange old man pushes him towards a new town and possibly some new friends.
Raiga meets first Keres, a rather skilled bow gun wielder with a level head followed not too long after by Torche, a more passive hunter who has been shunned by most of the Hunters in Loc Lac for her perceived weakness. Forced together more by circumstance than genuine desire the three young hunters embark on a quest together and are forced to learn how to work together else risk their own lives and those of a small village community.
The three main characters have very contrasting personalities and ideals but somehow manage to be exactly what each other needs. The conflict and various interactions between them feel natural whether antagonistic or friendly, and give the story a more relatable aspect. The plot has a lot more depth than you’d first think and as things progress you find yourself more enamored by the characters and their backstories than the monstrous world around them. However, while entertaining, I still found the tale lacking and couldn’t find myself willing to commit to it in the long run. For an action story with depth, Flash Hunter just seems to fall flat, not at all unpleasant but not quite hitting the mark to be called great.
The detail is in the monstrosity
Visually, Shin Yamamoto can be commended on delivering some great work. The art style is reminiscent of a lot of manga currently on the market with particular detail applied to what really counts, the monsters. It’s obvious that Yamamoto was well aware of the major selling point when working on the manga art as the level of detail found in the monsters and even the Hunter Armor which is made from monsters is impeccable. The detail contrasts well against the simpler backdrops of scenery and even character designs to truly make a statement.
If you’ve ever played a Monster Hunter game or you’re into RPG type adventures, Monster Hunter: Flash Hunter is definitely worth a read. Even if you’re not I would still encourage you to give it a look see. This is one of those things that will definitely be able to hold your attention for a while, even if not for very long.
At US$10.99 however, this volume is definitely a buy for the die hards, and a borrow for anyone else. I was able to finish it in just under an hour and honestly that left a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth, not to mention the rather abrupt end.