Genre: Fantasy
Length: 2 Volume
Allegiance: Kodansha/Tokyopop
Mangaka: Hiromoto Sin-Ichi
Vintage: 2002
Intelligence Agency Report by: I
In a post-apocalyptic future, the last strains of humanity live scattered on great ships that float above the Sakai, the Great Sand Sea. Zizi, a young girl with the power to see inside of the Sakai, is protected from the harsh terrain around her by the tribe that raised her until she makes the mistake of harpooning a pregnant whale, thus bringing the wrath of its mate onto the island. To prevent the island from suffering from her misdeed, she joins pirate captain Suv and his crew and goes to search for her true origin – but what she finds may be more than she bargained for.

Research Agent Report by: I
Overall 4.50
(not an average)
Hiromoto Sin-Ichi is an odd duck. With a style like The Chronicles of Riddick combined with Star Wars, his short series seems more like an offbeat western comic than a manga. In many ways it’s somewhat refreshing to see such a style used in a work, and his offbeat short could have been a highly successful sci-fi tribute – if the story wasn’t so rushed and the execution so shoddy. 

The initial premise made for an intriguing concept – that a great sea creature called STONe devoured the world, and only a small fraction of humanity survived. However, there’s no payoff to the concept, because STONe is never mentioned after the first two pages of volume one. What follows instead is Zizi’s journey to discover her origins, which could have worked if it had been given time to properly unfold, but instead jerks the reader every which way until the true “feel” the story could have had is lost in an attempt to pay homage to too many sci-fi stereotypes at once. One moves from the isolated post-apocalyptic survivalist tribe to the harsh but loving pirates to the evil empire seeking to take over the world to the strange, seductive, übermensch-popping mother of mankind to life-changing philosophies all in the span of two volumes. The pace is too frenetic to accomplish anything, and the continuous dropping of various story elements right after they come up aren’t very helpful either. Perhaps the story of STONe could have been successful, but Sin-Ichi’s attempts at a fantastical, action-packed manga ultimately fail. 

Because the series is plot-oriented, not much depth is given to the characters. In good plot-oriented manga, the comic as a whole doesn’t suffer because the characters aren’t the primary focus, but because STONe’s plot is too hasty to be satisfying, the characters can’t fill the void left in its wake, and the series suffers for it. Where fun, engaging characters are supposed to be are only soulless vessels who leave this feeling of emptiness in the reader’s gut because they had the potential to become so much more. 

Sin-Ichi does, however, get points for his art style. Although some may find his frenzied, inconsistent art styles to be grating, it gives a vibrant sense of movement to his drawings that remind me of the sketchy animated scene in Kill Bill. It would be easy to simply say that Sin-Ichi draws like that because he doesn’t know what he’s doing, but his amazing drawings of the characters’ surroundings and horrific oceanic creatures disprove such accusations. His style isn’t for everybody, but some people will get a real kick out of it. 

I really wish I could say something better about STONe. There seemed to be so much potential for a better work inside its volumes, but little of the good had the time to reveal itself; it was all swept up by the nonnegotiable force called page constraint. I don’t know whether I can recommend this to anyone, as all it really has to offer is disappointment.