DINOVENTURE -Stories of Dinosaurs- Complete Edition
恐竜大紀行 STORIES OF DINOSAURS -総集編- (Kyouryuu Daikikou Stories of Dinosaurs Soushuuhen)
Shounen – Educational, historical
1 Volume (complete)
Millions and billions of years ago, hundreds of dinosaurs roamed the Earth. But no matter the species, each day is a hard-fought battle to remain alive! Join some of these dinosaurs in their journey for survival.
Sometimes you can’t judge a series by its title. Sometimes you can. In this case, it’s the latter.
DINOVENTURE -Stories of Dinosaurs- is a series of chapters following various dinosaurs and related species. While all deal with survival in some way (finding food or hiding from a predator), each chapter is different. The only exception is the final two “episodes”, as it’s a two-parter with the same dinosaur as the star. But there’s one about a dinosaur who protects his pack, another about a young’un who disobeyed his mom’s advice. We got chapters involving large predators and others starring sea creatures. Most of the big-named dinosaurs (or a close relative of theirs) are represented. You’ll probably feel like a kid again seeing all these cool drawings of dinosaurs.
But speaking of kids, while this may seem like a manga for children, there are a couple of issues for younger readers. One dinosaur calls another a bastard, and the manga mentions about females getting “sexually excited” when seeing a strong male. That, and there are quite a few scenes of dinosaurs crying out they don’t want to die as they are being devoured. The text has some issues from being translated (see section below), but all the facts about time periods and stuff also aren’t young reader-friendly. Plus a lot of the narration is solemn. Children do need to understand the circle of life, but all the blood and even carnivorous acts skew DINOVENTURE to more of a mature tween or older audience.
Unfortunately, that also presents a problem. DINOVENTURE is presented as a nature documentary. The narrator provides the setting and background information and then introduces the dino-star of the chapter. The dinosaurs featured are given a mix of names from Japanese to English to pet/animal (Jiro, Brad, Thunder). Then we see the creatures having human-like conversations and thoughts: bragging when they defeat an enemy, crying out for a parent, remarking on the taste of food, bullying others, etc. Then it always wraps with a small black-and-white illustration, as if the episode was fading to black. Then there’s a information page before seguing into the next.
But that’s the issue: this is the age of the Internet with loads of information at readers’ fingertips. This manga is from the 90s, so some of the information has changed since then. Like the manga says that Apatosaurus and Brontosaurus are the same dinosaur, but that’s not what modern scientists think. Archaeopteryx is depicted as a brightly colored bird, but most modern depictions of show it wasn’t quite the flyer as DINOVENTURE suggests nor was it rainbow-colored. DINOVENTURE has an Archaeopteryx and Apatosaurus existing in a symbiotic relationship, but they may have been separated by a couple hundred thousand years. (If you replace Apatosaurus with Brontosaurus though, maybe, as their time periods overlap.) So while the idea is cool, as an educational tool, DINOVENTURE is limited.
Ultimately, DINOVENTURE is best served as either a) looking at some cool but likely out-of-date illustrations or b) a reminder of how evolution causes change or vise versa. Think a violent The Land Before Time meets the pivotal scene in The Lion King. Maybe add a dash of Jurassic Park in regards to dinos fighting and wrong scientific information. Regardless, if you just want a reminder at how amazing a journey our planet has had and how modern history is so short, DINOVENTURE is an entertaining read.
… Of course, once you get started along those lines, you are also subject to the old “Life-is-so-short-and-I’m-such-an-insignificant-speck-in-the-course-of-history-this-world-will-keep-changing-and-life-is-so-mysterious-and-I-feel-so-alone-I’m-just–gonna-crawl-into-bed-now” syndrome. We’ve all been there. Even though the manga may be about dinosaurs, the wanting to protect those we love or just experience life for a little longer is something that bonds all life together.
The manga is in full color. That means a lot of readers are going to be drawn to DINOVENTURE anyway despite being dated. Most of the dinosaurs are presented as they are in pop culture, whether that image is close to truth or not. They are all well-illustrated along with the prehistoric setting. I’ve already mentioned the animal violence as the dinosaurs and friends defend their territory, but otherwise — and I don’t mean this as an insult — it looks like a children’s storybook. The panels are quite large and feature minimal distractions in each panel; it’s usually one or two dinos and the sky/ground/sea. It doesn’t feature manga staples like sweatdrops or chibi characters. All in all, the manga that keeps the nature documentary feel.
Numbers often don’t have a space between them and their descriptor/place value (“6500million” or “15centimeters” for instance). Most of the time, contractions and possessives have a space after the apostrophe (“It’ s”). It also makes some mistakes (“Suite yourself” instead of “Suit yourself” and “Alturism”).
There’s also a couple of pages left in Japanese, particularly page 213.
DINOVENTURE -Stories of Dinosaurs-, like educational books in all forms, loses its effectiveness because of the passage of time. Best if you just want to see some fictionalized extraordinary versions of anthropomorphic dinos and friends (or enemies). If it was targeted more to young children, it might have stood the test of time a little better.