This story, while listed first in the English release by Studio Ironcat, is the third story to be written for the series. A "kakioroshi" (previously unpublished) story, it was included in the first manga compilation release (tankobon), compared to monthly magazine release, for Crusher Joe. As a result, when reading the first volume of the English version, readers will be struck by a marked change in artwork from first to second stories. This isn't surprising considering that the St. Germi story was written in 1983 compared to 1979 for the next (?, perhaps first would be more correct) two storylines. However, despite the change in story order viewers will have little trouble in following the story as presented as there is little reliance on storyline continuity.
As a first, introductory story to the Crusher Joe series, readers are left somewhat in the dark as to the background setting of the story. Likewise, information about "crushers" is quite scant beyond a very brief explanation on the first page that gives the impression of a mercenary group or something similar. Rather, information on these aspects must wait until the "second" story.
While the plotline itself is quite basic, what makes the story interesting for readers is the non-stop action and use of humour that dots the story. Even in "serious" situations, visual gags keep things light and fun. Because there is so much emphasis on action and story movement, there is little in the way of true character development. A brief flashback sequence to Joe's past, while giving some background information on his character, doesn't give the reader much insight to his personality. The other characters of the Minerva (Joe's ship), are even less developed such that readers are left with a slightly empty feeling overall. The characters have a distinct 2-D stereotypical feel.
As a translated work, the pictures for this manga are in typical English format (left to right) and the pictures are thus mirrored. While some readers may have personal peeves about picture mirroring, the dialogue and frame movement flows easily and well, and only one scene (a handshake) may catch the reader's attention as being unusual. Rather, the artwork is most noticeable for its dated drawing style (little surprise given the publication date) as well as the slightly blurry printing. This lack of printing clarity occasionally makes readers want to "clean their eyes" when reading.
While the original work isn't available for comparison, the translated dialogue works well overall with rare instances of slightly unusual phrasing. All in all a fun, light read.
- JYN, 2002.04.01