Brave Story (ブレイブ·ストーリー Bureibu Stōrī?) is a Japanese fantasy novel written by Miyuki Miyabe. It was serialized in various regional newspapers between the 11th of November in 1999 and 13 of February in 2001 before being published in two hardcover volumes by Kadokawa Shoten in March 2003. The story of the novel follows 5th Grade student Wataru Mitani as he stumbles upon "Vision", a fantasy world, after his parents divorce and his mother attempts suicide. The novel is available in the English language by Viz Media.
Brave Story has spawned into a substantial media franchise. The novel was adapted into a manga by Yoichiro Ono and Miyabe herself, who wrote the new story for the manga, which was serialised in Shinchosha's Weekly Comic Bunch. Shinchosha collected the chapters of Brave Story in twenty tankōbon volumes and released them from April 2004 to May 2008. In the manga version Wataru is slightly older and already in high school.
In 2006 the novel was rereleased in two new editions, a three volume softcover version of the earlier hardcover release intended for mature readers and a light novel version marketed for younger readers. These were intended to create interest in the animated film adaption by Gonzo released in Japan by Warner Bros. later that year on July 8, 2006. The film was nominated for "Animation of the Year" at the 2007 Japanese Academy Awards and also released in Australia, the United Kingdom, France, Taiwan and Germany.
The novel was loosely adapted into three video games: Sony Computer Entertainment's PSP game, Brave Story: New Traveler; Namco Bandai's Nintendo DS game, Brave Story: My Dreams and Wishes and Sony Computer Entertainment's PlayStation 2 game, Brave Story: Wataru's Adventure.
Wataru Mitani is a meek boy and fifth grader in Japan. Soon, a new student called Mitsuru Ashikawa begins attending Wataru's school, though he is in a different class. There are also rumors circulating about the Daimatsu building, an empty, unfinished building near Wataru's school. Witnesses claimed to have seen a ghost wandering behind the building's blue tarps. One day after school, Wataru sees Mitsuru performing magic in the Daimatsu building. Wataru follows Mitsuru into the building and stumbles into the strange world of Vision. In Vision, he is told that the portal he crossed, called the Portal Nectere, opens only once every ten years. People from his world are strictly forbidden to enter Vision unless they obtain the status of Traveler. Unfortunately, he is also told he will forget everything of his visit. He is later woken by his uncle to find that Vision was a dream; Wataru actually fell from the stairs of the Daimatsu building. Wataru's uncle brings bad news: the boy's parents are divorcing and his father has run off with his mistress, leaving his wife and Wataru behind. Both Wataru and his mother are shocked, and to add to Wataru's stress, he finds his memories of Vision slipping away. Later, Wataru's father's lover confronts Wataru's mother over who Wataru's father really loves. After this encounter, Wataru's mother attempts suicide by leaving on the gas in the house. Mitsuru visits him, warns him of the gas, and tells him to go to Vision if he wants to change his fate. Wataru struggles to remember, but he finally goes to the Daimatsu building to cross the portal to vision. Thus, Wataru's journey in Vision begins.
When he arrives in Vision, Wataru meets an old man who calls himself the Wayfinder. He tells Wataru what he must do to change his destiny:Wataru has to collect five gemstones to go to the Tower of Destiny, where the Goddess grants each Traveler one wish. Each stone has a different quality: charity, bravery, faith, grace, and the power of darkness and light. Wataru encounters friends and foes during his adventures, and he ultimately comes to terms with the nature of himself.
On March 10, 2006, Gonzo announced the establishment of a charity enterprise “Our Brave Fund”. ¥10 for every box office ticket purchased for the Brave Story film is donated to United Nations Children's Fund, which aims to "assist children infected with HIV and its repercussions in Asian and African nations, particularly children in the Republic of Malawi" with the funds. The production cost of the movie was estimated to be one billion yen.
Mangaka Yoichiro Ono comments that although he has kept his drawing style as close as he could to boys' manga, the story's is aimed at a adult audience and resulted in the first volume of the manga being "a lot more serious than it ended up being... and more mature".
Brave Story was written and illustrated by Miyuki Miyabe. Kadokawa Shoten released both volumes of the novel on March 3, 2003. A special volume was released by Kadokawa Shoten on April 7, 2003. An official guide book was released by Kadokawa Shoten on July 3, 2006. The English-language version of the novel is licensed by Viz Media. Viz Media released the novel as a 824-page book on August 14, 2007. It was translated into English by Alexander O. Smith. The novel is to be re-issued by Viz Media under its imprint, Haikasoru.
The manga adaptation of Brave Story, written by Miyuki Miyabe and illustrated by Yoichiro Ono, came about after the novel won the Batchelder Award. The manga serialization in Shinchosha's shōnen magazine (aimed at teenage boys) Weekly Comic Bunch ended on March 14, 2008. Shinchosha collected the individual chapters into 20 tankōbon volumes, and released them from April 9, 2004 to May 9, 2008. Tokyopop licensed the manga for an English-language release in North America. The first Brave Story volume was published on June 12, 2007. Brave Story is also licensed in France by Kurokawa.
An animated film adaptation of Brave Story was produced by Gonzo. Directed by Koichi Chigira and produced by Daisuke Sekiguchi, Hiroyoshi Koiwai and Koji Kajita, it was released in Japanese cinemas by Warner Bros. on July 8, 2006. Warner Brothers is handling worldwide distribution of the Brave Story movie. Warner Brothers announced their planned release of Brave Story on DVD, Blu-ray, HD DVD and UMD on November 12, 2006. The movie was licensed in Australia by Madman Entertainment, in the United Kingdom by Optimum Releasing, in France by Kaze and in Germany by Anime-Virtual. Juno Reactor composed the soundtrack for Brave Story.
Brave Story was showcased by Pony Canyon during the 2007 American Film Market. Pony Canyon promoted Brave Story along with Umizaru 2: Test of Trust at the 2008 American Film Market. Optimum Releasing released the film in the United Kingdom on September 8, 2008. The movie's ending theme was "Ketsui no Asa ni" (決意の朝に lit. "The Morning with Determination"?) by Aqua Timez.
- Takako Matsu as Wataru Mitani
- Eiji Wentz as Mitsuru Ashikawa
- Yo Oizumi as Ki-kima
- Miki Imai as the Goddess of Destiny
Sony Computer Entertainment released the action role-playing game, Brave Story: New Traveler on PlayStation Portable in Japan on July 6, 2006. In United States, the game was released by Xseed Games on July 31, 2007. Both were developed by Game Republic. On July 6, 2006, Namco Bandai released an adventure Nintendo DS game, called Brave Story: My Dreams and Wishes (ブレイブ·ストーリー ボクのキオクとネガイ Bureibu Stōrī: Boku no Kioku to Negai?). Sony Computer Entertainment released PlayStation 2 game, Brave Story: Wataru's Adventure (ブレイブ·ストーリー ワタルの冒険 Bureibu Stōrī: Wataru no Bouken?) on July 6, 2006.
On July 24, 1996, Avex Trax released a soundtrack of Brave Story, which was sung by TRF using the lyrics of Tetsuya Komuro. On July 5, 2006, Sony Music Entertainment released an animation soundtrack CD for Brave Story; Juno Reactor composed the songs. On November 29, 2006, Avex Trax released a Brave Story soundtrack, which featured lyrics composed by Tetsuya Komuro and Takahiro Maeda, and sung by TRF. Another soundtrack CD of Brave Story was released by Universal Music on September 3, 2008 that had lyrics written by Yuki Sakurai and was sung by Rice.
Viz Media was awarded the Batchelder Award in 2008 for publishing Brave Story novel. Matt Paddock from Game Vortex ponders on the "family dynamics and the pain of divorce or marital dysfunction is still so great in Japan that readers there are transfixed by this kind of stuff. Sad to say that American readers are probably inclined to care a bit less when Wataru's mom and dad are splitting up, since at least half of most marriages fail for whatever reason these days." He criticises Miyabe for not introducing the "fantasy world much earlier to capture the imagination of her readers". Katherine Dacey from Pop Culture Shock describes "Miyabe’s dark fantasy" as "a Frankenbook, stitched together from pieces of EverQuest, Guin Saga, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, and The Wizard of Oz to create an entertaining, surprisingly adult adventure story whose seams sometime show."
Brave Story was ranked fifth on a About.com poll for the best shōnen manga of 2007. A.E. Sparrow from IGN commends Brave Story manga for Yochiro Ono's artwork and he compares them to "some of the more recent manhwa (Korean) titles that have also come out of the Tokyopop camp". Mania.com's Nadia Oxford comments that the " unforgiving landscape" of the fantasy world "Vision" "seems to somehow reflect the mental state of its inhabitants". Scott Campbell from ActiveAnime commends the manga for its "detailed art and involving story". Snow Wildsmith from Teenreads commends Miyabe's "talent for switching between reality and fantasy, action and pathos, humor and seriousness, which helps make her story both more interesting and more believable". Anime News Network's Carlo Santos criticises the manga for its opening plotline by saying it is a "remarkably bland rendition of the "young hero sucked into alternate world" formula, and it's easy to mistake this at first for some kind of lame-duck Rayearth/Twelve Kingdoms clone". Katherine Dacey from Pop Culture Shock comments on Brave Story "distinguishes itself from dozens of similar series by fleshing out Wataru’s personal life. Wataru is no swaggering shonen stereotype: he’s insecure, hesitant, and crushed to learn that his dream girl has the hots for someone else." She also commends Wataru's parents sudden divorce "leaving Wataru to comfort his dumbfounded and grief-stricken mother while coming to terms with his own sense of loss. These scenes add an unexpected emotional depth to the story, demonstrating Wataru’s essential decency while providing him with a powerful motive for saving the world: he loves his mother".
The Brave Story film was nominated for "Animation of the Year" at the 2007 Japanese Academy Awards. John Li from MovieXclusive commends the film for its animation, saying "pleasing soft pastel colors and the occasional computer animation is still refreshing and pleasant to look at". Mark Schilling from The Japan Times compares Wataru to Doraemon's Nobita. He compares "the "quest for five jewels" motif" to the Dragon Ball series and The Chronicles of Narnia. John Smith from Impuse Gamer commends the film for its "beautiful animation techniques and some great sound sequences". Mania.com's Chris Beveridge commends the Blu-ray Disc version of Brave Story for being "very expansive in its use of the surround channels during some of the action sequences". He also commends the film for its visual quality saying, "on our 50" set at 720p, the only "problems" I could find was that I had to be six inches (152 mm) from the screen and looking at the pixels to see some of the shiftiness in the animation in the scenes where dark blues and blacks mix". Mania.com's Dani Moure compares the film's "old-fashioned" character designs to Studio Ghibli's. Anime News Network's Brian Hanson criticises the film as "being one of the worst-looking big-budget anime films of recent memory, the story is a mash of bizarre coincidences held together haphazardly by forced and annoying bouts of exposition, with irritating and one-dimensional characters chirping throughout".
Brave Story: New Traveller was generally well received by critics earning aggregated scores of 76% from Meta Critic and 79% from GameRankings. Joe Dodson from GameSpot commends Brave Story: New Traveler for its visual and sound effects but criticises its "homogenous and never-ending" monsters. GamePro commends the game for "vibrant graphics, small load times and solid presentation on the whole" but criticises it for "some too-familiar aspects of story and gameplay, story may be too "kiddy" for some." Louis Bedigian from GameZone commends the game's graphics saying that the game "pays homage to the 3D Final Fantasy games". Matt Paddock from Game Vortex commends the game on its faithful translation by saying, "if any of the Harry Potter books had been translated as faithfully, the game versions of Rowling's work would be selling gold and platinum right now". GameFAQs's Kashell Triumph commends the game's character designs, describing them as, "well designed, detailed, expressive, and fluid". Greg Miller at IGN criticises the game for having "a set of the exact same events -- random battles, dungeon, random battles, boss". GameSpy's Steve Steinberg criticises the game for its first three hours of gameplay as it shows "very slowly and methodically—the basics of a generic and less-than-compelling game".
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- Official manga site (Japanese)
- Tokyopop's Brave Story site
- Brave Story (film) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Brave Story (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Ed Chavez podcast
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