Vermonia, Vol. 1: Quest for the Silver Tiger
written by YoYo
The planet Vermonia used to be in constant balance with the Blue Star and the Turtle Realm under the rule of Queen Frasinella. Her reign of peace was destroyed when General Uro turned on his brother General Borus and sought the destruction of the Queen and her rule. With time running out, the queen hid the souls of her four most trusted ministries on the Blue Star (Earth) to be reborn in four human children.
Now in their preteen years, best friends Naomi, Mel, Doug, and Jim lead perfectly normal lives. They skateboard every day and even have their own rock band, Veracity. None of them have any idea that they are actually the reincarnations of the four ministries of Veronia until one of General Uro’s captains kidnaps Mel.
Naomi, Doug, and Jim are left stunned, but not alone. The guardian jester Zanni brings the remaining three an egg that soon hatches a mystical squelp name Satorin. With Satorin’s help, the friends journey to the Turtle Realm to search for Mel. Shortly after their arrival, Doug falls ill and has a vision of a powerful white tiger who beseeches Doug to release him. The group learns that this tiger is just one of the four ministries of the planet Vermonia, and they are the chosen warriors who shall defeat General Uro and restore peace to all three planets.
Creative team YOYO is a group of artists and writers including former Kodansha editor Akihiro Miyata and Saki Uchida, a professor at Nihon Kogakuin College, a school revered for its teachings in anime, manga, illustration, and design. Knowing this, just looking at the artistic style seems a bit confusing, because the characters appear to be drawn in a Western cartoon style. Pairing that with English names might make the reader second guess if this is even a Japanese piece. However, in choosing a more Western look to the art, the creators give the characters an authentic feeling of belonging in a North American culture rather than in a Japanese one.
The 10-volume series has a life online through flash games and information at vermonia.com as well as a small MySpace page for the characters’ fictional punk band Veracity. This is a clever intermedia concept, but it does not quite flesh out the series as intricately as one might hope. Still, the entirety of the story is contained within the manga series itself, leaving no holes that readers will have to search for later.
The Vermonia series is ideal for readers ages 8–14. The entire plot is well paced and offers a lengthy but complete journey that won’t drag on longer than welcome. The Westernized art style, characters, and setting also open the series up to less experienced readers. To the veteran manga reader, though, Vermonia may not be as appealing with a concept that has been executed time and time again in more mature, classic series.