Cannon God Exaxxion: Stage 1
by Kenichi Sonoda
Dark Horse Comics / Studio Proteus
Translated by Dana Lewis and Adam Warren
BW, 208 pgs
$15.95 US / Higher in Canada
Fan favourite manga creator Kenichi Sonoda begins his new sci-fi epic storyline after the conclusion of his critically acclaimed Gunsmith Cats. That comic ran approximately five years and became one of Japan’s best loved series that filled up pages with big guns, fast cars and sexually exciting bounty hunting. Now with a change of scenario, Sonoda changes direction, Cannon God Exaxxion. This series is saturated with the same ideas that made him famous in the first place except with a flip of genre and a few technological advances.
Ten years ago the planet earth made contact with a technologically advanced alien race called the Riofaldians. They approached the humans as friends and traded their advanced technology in exchange for human culture. Not a bad trade at first glance one would think, but the aliens came to earth for more than simple top 40 music and animated cartoons. The Riofaldians slowly integrated into human society and weaseled their ways into high positions of government and industry. Every bit of technology was laced with the Riofaldians’ and when they finally showed their true purpose to the planet earth it was too late to fight back.
A decade after the initial contact, the Riofaldians were able to conquer the earth in one day through peaceful suppression. All the world’s armies were neutralized and any weapons containing the alien technology were useless for any counterattack. Since the arrival of the alien invaders, there’s been only one person who shunned the friendly aliens and deemed them as a threat to earth’s sovereignty. This man, Hosuke Kano, is a brilliant inventor and grandfather to this story’s hero, Hoichi “Gun” Kano. Grandpa Hosuke has dedicated the last 40 years of his life into the Exaxxion Project. The last ten of those years have been spent building an army of large breasted cyborg female servants and deconstructing the secrets of Riofaldian technology.
Gun is given an incredible bodysuit that is resilient to almost any attack. It has built in weaponry and nanotechnology that heals the wearer and those he touches. Grandpa wants to deal with the enemy in the hope of making his grandson earth’s greatest hero. Gun has everything he needs at his disposal to eliminate the threat, including the large robot Exaxxion and his own cyborg girlfriend Isaka Minagata– who’s large breasts serve a higher purpose than sexual delight. They contain a reservoir of nanomachines to help Gun in his fight. Two guesses on how the transference of these tiny machines is made.
Now it is up to Gun to save the world and evict the alien nuisance.
Sonoda borrows heavily from old science fiction movies for his concepts and designs. The robots are round and metallic and are void of any contemporary mech-and-tech design found in today’s big robot movies or today’s manga. The sixties black and white flick, The Day the Earth Stood Still, is the chief influence on this manga in both story and design. Not a bad choice for primary influence but I was very surprised at the lack of innovation and original ideas in Sonoda’s tale.
Over the years, Sonoda has become famous for his great storytelling and detailed art. Cannon God Exaxxion suffers from originality in both departments and depends heavily on sci-fi cliches and lame storylines, including the hero portrayed as the “Chosen One”. The art is great but lacks the amazing photographic accuracy found in Gunsmith Cats, especially in the detailed drawing of handguns and muscle cars. It’s almost like Sonoda is distracted, maybe he is paying to much attention to, ahem, other parts of the story.
Nearing the climax of this trade, supporting character Akane Hino spouts “One person can’t fight an army, no matter how strong he is; ” Unfortunately, sometimes a great creator can’t help falling into the cliche ruts of science fiction, no matter how strong his storytelling was before. Nonetheless I have some faith that Sonoda will be able to climb his way out of this hole. (Dana Tillusz)