Release Date: 14th November, 2015
Originally released as a webcomic back in 2009-10, Shadow Sprinters – a fan favourite manga series from writer and artist Minyi – is finally receiving a long-overdue printed release at this weekend’s Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds.
The story is set in an alternate universe where the level of technology has allowed mankind to harness the power of mysterious “shadow particles” to help advance their civilisation – and also to engage in an exciting but dangerous zero-gravity team sport called ‘Shadow Sprint’. Our hero is Jian, a ‘Shadow Sprinter’ who finds himself plagued by nightmares on the eve of the opening game of the season; nightmares that may turn out to be more than just his imagination.
The first thing that strikes you about Shadow Sprinters is the impressive artwork, with Minyi using clean lines and dynamic panel layouts to keep the story flowing forwards smoothly throughout. The lack of colour is slightly disappointing (although understandable, given the webcomic format), if only because of how gorgeous the full-colour chapter headings are. The characters are all distinctive and easily recognisable for the most part, and “shadow particles” are used to impressive effect. I’ll confess, it did take me a little while to adjust to the whole ‘reading from right to left’ thing, but once I got into a groove, it became second nature and definitely didn’t diminish my enjoyment of the comic as a whole.
The plot itself is fairly straightforward fare, it has to be said, albeit tinged with a faint air of mystery. The conflict between the earnest “Team Pepsi” and the nefarious, rulebreaking “Team Takada” is exactly what you’d expect from a comic like this, but the execution is sure-handed enough to keep things from becoming too clichéd, and the dynamic artwork gives some much-needed punch to the storyline beats.
Overall, while it’s not necessarily to my personal taste, Shadow Sprinters is still a polished and infinitely readable series for fans of the manga style of artwork and storytelling, and provides a well-crafted story that fans of the genre will absolutely love.
Shadow Sprinters will be available at the Thought Bubble Festival in Leeds on November 14th and 15th, and can be pre-ordered from the Minyi Official website.