メテオ・メトセラ (Meteor Methuselah)
Shoujo – Romance, action, adventure, comedy, fantasy, sci-fi, drama
8 Volumes (incomplete, suspended) out of 11 Volumes (original Japanese release)
Out of print
Machika intends to carry on her grandfather’s legacy of being a great assassin. Her first target is the only man her grandfather couldn’t capture: the immortal Methuselah. Methuselah — whose real name is Rain — saves her, but Machika swears Rain is her prey and will follow him anywhere.
It’s impossible not to compare Immortal Rain to Trigun, but fortunately this manga can stand alone… if only someone would finish it.
If you were to make a Venn diagram comparing this series to the aforementioned Trigun, you’d have a lot to put in the overlapping circles. Long-living hero? Check. Hero acts like a goofball but is really powerful? Check. Tsundere female lead? Check. Guns, crosses, rival-turned-friend? Check check check. I could go on, but you get the idea. The two even both have religious influences.
So any Trigun fan unfamiliar with this tale has go to be like, “Immortal Rain must be such a ripoff!” at this point. At times, even I had to chuckle at the similarities. But something happens when you’re reading Immortal Rain. It becomes less an alternate reality romance fanfiction of a young Meryl and the goofy but charming Vash. There’s the action-filled battles (author Ozaki admits to being a shounen fan), but Immortal Rain also has the emotional impact that shoujo manga is well-known for. Machika is a lonely girl grieving over her grandfather’s death. Rain is a much, much, much older man struggling with his attraction to a young girl who will get involved with his battles if she is with him. And even though several of the antagonists have terrible goals, the story explains their histories so well that we can understand (but not agree with) their motivations.
But despite the personal drama, Immortal Rain is very much an action-adventure story. There’s gunfights, physical brawls, and daring escapes. With all the battles and the sci-fi elements, the manga has much crossover appeal. Author Ozaki mentions she typically read shounen manga as a child, and it really shows. The story could have easily been turned into an anime, and I think it would have done well. Rain is also absent for parts of the story, so with him gone, it doesn’t feel like Machika’s side is overpowered. Shoujo fans don’t have to feel neglected either: the romance is on the fast side but still sweet enough to enjoy. Unfortunately, Tokyopop closed down while Immortal Rain was being published, so readers will need to import the last three volumes or turn to illegal scanlations in order to find out what happens.
Like Fullmetal Alchemist, which was also written by a female, the girls in this story are quite capable. Machika is a bit single-minded with her focus on Rain, but she is quite physically tough. Ayla seems like she would be quite the girly-girl, but she risks her life to help Machika and also redeem her clan. One of the main antagonists is a female, and she easily overpowers Machika. If you want to see females who actually do something besides cry and wait to be saved all the time, then I’m sure you’ll appreciate Immortal Rain. As for the men in the manga, Rain is the strong yet goofy guy, Yuca is…complicated, and Eury reluctantly finds himself in the midst of saving the world. Everyone is flanked by relatives and supporters, but, fortunately, these characters come around in the plot at different times. This prevents the cast from becoming overly large and unmanageable. Rain may be the titular character, but he hardly hogs the spotlight. I wouldn’t even call Machika the most developed character or the most changed in this story. This is great if you find the main couple too sweet or the age difference a bit disturbing.
As you might expect, Immortal Rain has a bit of a shounen feel to the art. Lots of care goes into showing the dystopian wasteland as well as the high-tech capital. Chapters progress smoothly even when the plot is split between two storylines. There’s quite a bit of violence, but that’s to be expected from a T series. Characters’ hairstyles are pretty realistic, mostly short or long with minimal accents. Since much of the cast is poor, their outfits are relatively simple as well. I like the art, but it’s even more amazing when you consider she drew almost the entire series (including all the ones published in English) without any assistants! I imagine that’s why screentones and stuff are minimal, but at least parts never jumped out to me that screamed they were done by someone else. To think this was done by one person…amazing.
Well, it’s Tokyopop. What can I say. There’s their usual swapped bubbles, missing dialogue, and untranslated text. Dora’s last name is incorrectly translated as “Fork” instead of “Folk” in its first appearance, but considering his name is written in Japanese as フォーク, it would be impossible to know which is correct without consulting the author. An editor or translator should have checked, but manga translating was a bit different back then, and it could always be chalked up to a typo. “Grim Reaper” is used for “Shinigami” here. Since this is a fantasy series, Immortal Rain doesn’t undergo heavy Americanization, unlike many other Tokyopop series. Of course, if this series were to be rescued, I would expect a better adaptation, but this isn’t the worst or most irritating translation I’ve seen.
Immortal Rain is a hidden gem in Tokyopop’s old catalog, and to leave it three volumes from the end is very disappointing.
Immortal Rain does have a one volume prequel called Touhou Shinigami – Meteor Methuselah Gaiden. It focuses on Machika’s grandfather and Rain. Ozaki also released some doujinshi of Immortal Rain that is mostly a collection of alternate universe stories about the gang in high school.
Ozaki’s The Gods Lie is available from Vertical, Inc.