By Dustin Cabeal
R.u.N. is the first manga I’ve read that’s not from Japan. It’s from the Greek studio Mangatellers, and while I’m not here to debate what is and isn’t a manga, I will be reviewing and labeling R.u.N. as a manga. And if you have a problem with that then know that 99% of the time I call comic books, graphic novels, a percentage of kids’ books, manga, manhwa, and manhua all comics. It’s just comics to me people.
R.u.N. is all about parkour. The main character Jean has recently moved to Japan with his mother, and if I had to place a guess, I would say that he’s half Japanese. The story starts with one of the great tropes of manga in that Jean is late for his first day of school. He decides to parkour the entire way there. The sequence is almost perfect in the way that it establishes everything we need to know about Jean. He’s new, he can do parkour, but he’s also prone to be clumsy and late. He’s like Peter Parker without the powers. The only problem I had with it was that he still ends up being late, which made me wonder if he ever had a chance of being on time. Class is well underway when he arrives tattered and dirty, but hey… it’s not a big deal. Just something that stood out to me.
Eventually, he runs into another kid in his class that does parkour, but only after the kid tries to rob his mom’s bookstore. They make amends, and the kid offers to introduce him to the parkour group he’s trying to join. Team Ninja turns out to be a bunch of shady jerks, but they offer up a challenge that Jean can’t refuse.
While the book contains parkour and talks all lot about the techniques and elements, it also debates the philosophy of parkour. Jean is apparently an old school idealist, while Team Ninja is not. Honestly, Ninja’s philosophy wasn’t spelled out completely, but instead just billed as “different from Jean.”
Otherwise, the story and writing were quite good. If you’re going to do a book about parkour, you better have a great flow to the story, and R.u.N. does. It’s a thick book, but it’s also a quick read. The dialogue conveys just enough information and remains believable which keeps the flow moving. If the dialogue had dragged, it would have brought the story down around it.
The artwork is great. It looks like a manga, but more of an underground manga. I’ve read a few of those from a publisher that doesn’t seem to publish anything anymore, but when they did, I was exposed to all these other art styles that you rarely see coming out of manga. R.u.N. fits right in with this as it is clean and detailed, but doesn’t have that “house” style that so many manga franchises have.
I was surprised by how much I liked this series. I remember wanting to check it out when it was on Kickstarter but not having the funds to support it kept me from doing so at the time. You can read it online, but if you’ve been following my reviews for the past two days, then you should know how little time I have to do that as well. But, it’s an option for those that are just looking to read and not review everything they read. Even if you don’t like manga, I would still recommend this because again, it’s more like an indie manga than anything being published by the big companies.
R.u.N. vol. 1
Story: Kariofyllis Chris Hatzopoulos and Raphael Voutsidis
Artist: Manos Lagouvardos