World Piece has basketball-playing kung-fu robots and a shrinking Earth, but it falls short of the manga that inspired it.
World Piece Vol. 1, a fun adventure through a sci-fi world of robots, basketball, and shrinking planets, is a new manga-style graphic novel by writer-illustrator combination Josh Tierney and Agroshka, published by Viz Media. That may sound like a lot of fun, but it’s less intriguing than the sum of its components and doesn’t live up to its manga roots.
Lucas, a pleasant adolescent kid from Toronto, Canada, is the protagonist of World Piece. Lucas is portrayed as a bumbling jerk. The type of guy who is adored by the ladies but can’t seem to land a date. The type of person who just wants to play his favourite sport (basketball), even if it means constantly chucking bricks.
When Lucas goes on a site visit with his archaeologist mother, everything changes for him. Lucas is naturally interested in his mother’s research into unusual artefacts that could be alien in origin. Lucas finds himself alone in a black abyss, with the Earth reduced down to the size of a basketball. After a quick misadventure with one of the relics.
Popular Manga Cliche
Following that, Lucas and his new allies Lully, an innocent not-princess, and Mitton, a tsundere pacifist deserter. Explore the futuristic planet of Affin in their quest to preserve the Earth in a shonen-lite adventure. Lucas immediately realises that the reduced Earth is not only invulnerable but also a useful weapon. Lucas may be a lousy basketball player, but he rapidly learns how to use the Earth as a basketball kung-fu weapon.
What’s wrong with the book is Lucas’s initial passion for basketball-based warfare. Hard labor pays off is perhaps the most popular manga cliche. It’s a departure from American comics in that Spider-Man is quickly transformed into the fully-formed web-slinger. We know and love, at least in terms of his abilities and fighting prowess. A character like Deku from My Hero Academia, on the other hand, is obliged to sweat, bleed, and cry in order to attain his ambitions.
Lucas doesn’t need to work for anything because he’s instantly powerful, capable of handling any situation and simply eliminating several foes on his own. He also lacks the angst that makes a character like Peter Parker so interesting to watch. Given the gravity of his situation (literally the fate of his planet is at risk). He appears unfazed by anything that occurs to him. Lucas is a blank slate with no actual opinions or personality qualities, and as a result, the novel suffers as a result.
Similarly, Affin’s world never feels fully realised. There is an army known as the “probots,” as well as robots known as “probots.” There’s a constant battle between unspecified groups, everything is generically sci-fi… and that’s about all we know. The great manga build bright and vivid worlds from the first page, but Affin is not one of them.
All of this may appear to be nitpicking and unfair criticism of a work that is plainly intended for children. However, just because a work of media is aimed at children doesn’t imply its characters can’t be complex. One Piece, as well as most of Shonen manga (Dragon Ball, Naruto, and so on), is a fantastic illustration of this. Characters in these stories are completely developed, with defined aims, desires, weaknesses, eccentricities, and so on. Similarly, Luffy and the Straw Hat Pirates routinely visit new islands in One Piece, and the world-building is always brilliantly detailed and profound.
Of all, this is only World Piece volume 1, so there’s still a lot of character development and world-building to come. The novel has some redeeming qualities: Agroshka has a natural gift for sketching robots. The concept is exciting and original, and Lucas’ buddies Lully and Mitton are endearing and contain the seeds of character development. Planet Piece, on the other hand, does not produce a good first impression. And readers will most likely leave the world of Affin without ever really getting to know it. In the end, you’d be better off sticking with the original material for a manga. That looks eager to display its passion for the genre.