Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Things No One Cares About: Time Stranger Kyoko

Since I'm feeling pretty good after Phantom Thief Jeanne,the inevitable crash should be coming pretty soon. What's that over there, is it a great series for me to read? Nope,it's just a poorly paced and boring waste of a cool setting or as it's called in common tongue Time Stranger Kyoko. Was that playing my cards too early,probably, not that I care too much.

Time Stranger Kyoko lays out an interesting premise then proceeds to never flesh it out and throws in new elements to it without warning. The Earth has been united as one nation and we follow the princess of Earth,Kyoko. She is gathering mystical stones and their respective users a.k.a Strangers to awaken her sister Ui. That's all we get for how the world seems to work, which is lacking to say the least. It leaves quite a few more interesting aspects relegated to sidebars,such as hybrids of humans and earth's other life forms. Something that should probably be explained is mentioned once as a definition then never explained further. How this works or how people like that came to be is instead pushed aside for wacky thieves and helping a guy over come his daddy complex.

This brings up the second big problem with the story:pacing. The first volume moves at a glacial pace with little to no world building and getting involved in adventures that just happen to tie back in to the main plot. This continues well into volume two before finally getting to interesting events,involving Akira the thief and the snake tribe's political turmoil. After this stretch of still not explaining much else the plot starts running at breakneck speed to get all the macguffins needed for the ending to happen. Throwing in plot points and trying for a bit of foreshadowing that all gets lost because it never takes anytime to breath.

There are some interesting ideas that actually do work, once the main group figures out that the stones are in the hands of the various tribe's rulers they call them all to the castle instead of cavorting about to find them. Also to be fair the foreshadowing with Kyoko's true nature is actually done rather well early on but fails by being a bit ham handed once the plot kicks into overdrive. The series also plays fast and loose with the time travel aspects. Which is better in the long run since closely examining the time travel would not turn out well for this book. Since I'm being nice to the series,I'd be remiss if I neglected to mention Akira.

Normally when talking about characters I'd start with the main one,Kyoko in this case,  but in the interest of putting my best foot forward,I'll start with side character Akira. He's a lovable rouge and unlike the others flits between goofy and serious rather well. The brother of the Snake tribe's leader that commands a band of thieves in the capital city. Everything about him works: he's funny,cool,has a tragic yet believable back story and brings energy to a main cast that has none. The way Kyoko is characterized it seems to be setting him up as her love interest as opposed to her actual one. They instead just send him off in the end to do his own thing,probably for the better because everyone else is kind of boring and crap by comparison.

Speaking of Kyoko,she's all over the place in terms of character. It's clear she's supposed to be the fun determined kind of person but she keeps getting these selfish moments. The plot is kicked off by her being selfish to avoid be exposed as Earth's princess. You can have a character like this work if the balance is right, Josuke Higashikata strikes a solid mix of kindness and being greedy. It's like Tanemura is afraid to make a straight forward and honest protagonist so she shoe horns in these more selfish actions to hide it. When she has to be gone for a few chapters after she is revealed as the Time God's daughter, which is also never really explained by the way. The others miss her deeply but it seems to be because the reawakened Princess Ui is rather unpleasant.

Sakataki and Hizuki, step brothers and the body guards of Kyoko probably fare the worst as along with Kyoko get into one of the worst subplots in the book. They kick of a few plot points with the stones and establishing a monster race that seems to be here simply so the characters has something to fight on occasion. Near the end the get into a terrible love triangle that serves little purpose other than to extend the story and so that weird plot Tanemura set up has some resolution. They do get some funny bro-con moments but it's intermixed with serious angst. Sadly, this works about as well as Kyoko's characterization.

The brothers are both Strangers and Hizuki happens to be the last Stranger they are searching for and this plot point is just dropped so unceremoniously that it's laughably bad. It doesn't help that he is the Ice Stranger when there is already a Snow Stranger. Yes snow and ice are rather different but she could have used a different element or made Sakataki the Snow Stranger in lieu of him being the Crystal Stranger. It'd work better from a theming stand point at least

The reminder of the cast is forgettable,especially the remaining Strangers that don't even have their own chapters. Making their desire to see Kyoko come back to the world even more bizarre since they've known her for all of about five pages. Chronos the time god comes out of no where and like most other probably important points in this story is never expanded upon. He seems to be here again to add drama and draw out a plot that should have finished ages ago but didn't because we didn't have a romantic ending yet. Then we get an epilogue and no offense but half these characters had maybe a handful of panels. So why in the name of all the is unholy would I give a crap about what they did after this.

This is a series that doesn't seem to want to focus on anything,squandering a rather interesting setting and neglecting to build up the world. Instead focusing on inconsistent characters that range from unpleasant to just outright cardboard cut outs whose role could be fulfilled with a ambitious batch of custard and a plot that is determined to break some sort of speed record. See you next time at the bottom of the ravine for Mistress Fortune.

Till Next Time:Stay Positive.

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