Miles, Mikel (writer); Digikame (manga artist); Agustriyana, Sukma (art), Sketch, Joe & Keo, Deo (Mazu) (character design)
Sadie is the daughter of a legendary boxer, but she’s just a normal office worker and single mom. But when a boy spots her build and her inner spirit, Sadie may find herself following in her father’s footsteps.
As Her Impact! isn’t due out until 2018, this is based on my first impressions of the demo/sample issue, Issue #0. The series has been called both a comic and a manga since it blends the genres, but the story is read in Western left-to-right order.
The story opens with Sadie narrating a bit about her father, showing him in a critical title match. We later learn he won a heavyweight title, so she definitely has talent running in her veins.
But the bulk of Her Impact! centers around Sadie’s everyday life. She’s very similar to a lot of women out there: her boss is awful, the job isn’t exciting or fulfilling, and her son is smart boy who sneakily tries to get his parent to buy age-inappropriate (violent) material. (No word on Aiden’s father yet.) She’s a bit of a firecracker, snarkily telling her boss she’s getting to work and yelling loudly at a stranger who accidentally ran into her. It’s a stark contrast to the gentle look in her eyes when she thinks about Aiden.
While there are several boxing manga out there, only a very small minority star a female protagonist. Having a fully grown woman be the star of a comic — let alone a sports story — is also rare. If Sadie isn’t unusual enough already for a lead, then throw in the fact she’s half-Japanese and half-African-Canadian. Her Impact doesn’t cover any of Sadie’s childhood, but with a mixed background like that, it wouldn’t surprise me if she was ostracized. I could see her childhood factoring in to her attitude.
Now, here’s the odd part of Her Impact! for me: the setting. Sadie is living in Japan; that much seems obvious considering she’s paying in yen. However, she’s buying real English indie comics, and she mentions having trouble reading them since they’re “backwards”. The store clerk even notes she mispronounces “Apple Black” as “Appon Back”. Yet one image has this book with the cover as if it were written in Japanese reading order (right to left). I imagine it’s a minor graphical error, but that’s not the only instance of English in the story. Sadie is handed a flyer in English and notes the boy’s bad grammar. Maybe the bottom, cut-off portion is written in broken Japanese?
I mean, it’s possible Sadie is really bad in English, but it seems odd that she has a Canadian mother and doesn’t know how to pronounce basic English words like “apple” and “black” well. Even if she grew up in Japan without her mother and never went to high school, I find it hard to believe she hasn’t associated apple with its Japanese approximation アップル. Plus, minor details like a seven-year-old being picked up from school seems better suited to a Western setting (Canada, America, etc.) than a Japanese one. I just think the story would have flowed better if I wasn’t wondering about the language barriers.
The kid Sadie meets mistakes her for a man twice. I don’t know if his mistake is due to the art, the boy’s assumptions, or just because readers know it’s Sadie, but Sadie looks like a female to me even in her oversized hoodie. Sadie’s hair in the black-and-white art makes it look like it has two colors, but the cover makes it seem like two shades. Again, if you go just by the manga art (as covers tend to be inconsistent or random), I found it odd that a Japanese law firm would not have a problem with an employee with dyed hair. (I’m not saying it’s right, but it’s been my impression that Japan is incredibly strict, even if Sadie’s not in a customer service position.) Otherwise, I found the art to be easy to follow and crisp. While it isn’t easily described as shounen, Nakayoshi, or other styles, but instead has a blend of Marvel to it. I guess that’s partly to be expected considering Sadie’s ethnicity and age. The early fight scenes are very well done, concentrating on power hits versus a flurry of jabs. I hope the rest of the series has this level of consistency.
Her Impact! fills a niche that we often forget needs to be filled with all the hype surrounding male high school club series like Haikyu!!, Ace of the Diamond, and more. Some may criticize Her Impact! for trying to push several underrepresented groups at once, but the only aspect of this I would agree with is that Sadie and the language aspects feel out-of-place in Japan. Set Her Impact! in her mother’s hometown of Toronto and I don’t think I’d have any criticisms about the story.