Immortal Rain (known as Meteor Methuselah in Japan) tells the story of Machika Balfatin, a spunky young bounty hunter following in her grandfather's footsteps. Balfatin Senior, otherwise known as Zol, was a legendary bounty hunter who despite his skill, failed to catch the legendary immortal, Methuselah. Machika thus takes it upon herself to carry her grandfather's legecy and accomplish the one thing he could not; a feat she accomplishes pretty quickly, as she meets said immortal in the opening pages of the first book.
Now if this was some uninspired post-Dragonball shounen dribble, Machika and Methuselah would spend the next 50 pages powering up and screaming. But this is shoujo baby! And in shoujo, the one rule of the universe is that girls fall in love with tall, mysterious bishounen. And to sum up two books worth of character development, Machika develops a fascination (later love, awwwww) over Rain (Methuselah's real name) and starts following him around. Action, adventure, and soppy love scenes ensue.
For the most part, the love between Machika and Rain is well executed and kinda sweet. There's just one problem though; he's a 624 year old immortal, and she's fucking 15. I don't care how cute a couple they make, it's fucking wrong when the man you're bedding is old enough to be your great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great great grandfather.
Whilst the romance is the focus of the story, it takes place in a backdrop of a post apocalyptic world, with a dastardly plot to revive ancient biological weapons in the mix. Also, this huge jerkass named Yuca is trying to destroy the world. To make matters worse, the fucker won't stay dead as he's trapped in the eternal cycle of rebirth.
One of the strengths of Immortal Rain's story is the constant presence of the antagonists. One problem I've had with a lot of fantasy and action manga is that the Evil Council of Doom never seems to actually do anything except sit around a table in a poorly lit room while gloating over how smoothly their supposed plan is proceeding.
You can rest assured that none of that shit happens here. The baddies are in your face and present. They are always just one step behind the heroes and will gleefully ruin their day. And not just the faceless generic mooks or one shot villains of the week. No. Big, named baddies are everpresent threats, which creates a gripping feel of suspense, which is sadly lacking in many manga.
The main heroine. A spunky scythe wielding assassin in a cute dress. In love with an ageless pedophile.
The main hero. The legendary 600 year old immortal that everyone wants to capture to learn the secret of his immortality. Like all bishounen, has a tragic past and doesn't want people to get close to him, for fear of hurting them. Is a pedophile. Goh would be proud.
A former friend of Rain. Is continously reborn, but retains all memory of his past life. This has made him an angsty little bastard, and he wants to end all life to escape the cycle of rebirth.
One of the main antagonists. The vice president of Calvaria, but she is the one who calls the shots in the company. By the way, did we mention that said company is an evil organization that is dedicated to unearthing ancient weapons? Because they are.
Sharem's husband, the most whipped man in the history of marriage.
A mad scientist with a stupid last name who works for Calvaria. Is pretty much batshit insane, and one of the most dangerous adversaries Machika and Rain encounter. Also, the bastard never gives up.
The artwork of Immortal Rain is rather pretty. Ozaki is obviously a character artist, and her characters are expressive and well drawn. Furthermore, Ozaki has considerable control over difficult angles and posses, as evidenced by some of Machika's elaborate and atheletic kick attacks.
However, the quality of her backgrounds are average at best, and fail to really display any real character. Thus they appear bland and uninspired, which may be forgivable in close up shots focusing on the character, but are rather offputting in wide angle views of whatever location they are in.
Reading over my review, I fear I may have come across as more negative then I had intended. If so, I would like to remedy this now; Immortal Rain is a thoroughly splendid experience. It's story is gripping, and it's characters interesting. It is not perfection incarnate, and it has it's failings. However, it is still definitely one of the better mangas in it's genre.
Personally, the one greatest sore point for me was Machika's age. Was it really that hard to just add three years to her and make her 18? It'll still be kinda disgusting, but at least it'd be legal. I mean, part of the story is how Machika matures, but it really doesn't serve the plot in any way for her to be that young. This was an otherwise well written love story, spoiled by the fact that Rain is a pedophile so epic, that even Godannar's heroic pedo Goh would be impressed.
If you hungry for a break from the uninspired trash that populates the fantasy adventure genre, Immortal Rain might well be your title. The story doesn't really break ground, but it's excellence lies in it's execution, which is poignent, gripping and well paced. It is licensed by Tokyopop, so please try to support the author and buy yourself a copy.
On that note however, good luck with actually finding yourself a copy. I seriously have no idea where to even buy this fucker, and have had to search high and low and gather up the seven issues I currently have. Seriously, if anyone knows where the fuck I can find this round Sydney, I will love you forever...or at least for 30 minutes.