by Naoe Kita; adaptation by Tim Rogers
published by DC/CMX Manga; $9.99 US
In the future, the world has been united in one empire. However, the emperor has died, and his scientists are trying to clone him to keep the empire together. The clone escapes and winds up, a blank slate, trying to survive with the aid of two others.
He’s got an unusual marking in the middle of his forehead, so they call him Rose. (There’s a shôjo manga tradition of pretty mystical boys with girls’ name, acknowledged in the story.) Soon various factions start hunting him down, and he discovers he has mystical abilities.
The idea of a young person thrown into a world he doesn’t understand, forced to find his place in the world, not sure who he can trust, is something any teen can relate to. In this case, it’s complicated by the level of power at stake, and the idea of secretly being a ruler of the world has been appealing to adolescents for forever. (It’s the same idea behind Superman.)
The art reminds me of the 80s, with big poofy hair, skinny ties, and padded shoulders, but it’s attractive and easy-to-read. There’s lots going on, with packed chapters and rapid pacing. The book also raises the question of the significance of appearance — Rose is frequently mistaken for the emperor, but only because of his looks.
Of course Rose will become the kind of person who’s capable of being emperor, with his adventures teaching him the life lessons he needs, but it looks like his journey will be a good read.