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Caravan Kidd (キャラバン キッド Kyaraban Kiido?) is a shōnen science fiction manga by Johji Manabe. It was published in the United States and Canada in English by Dark Horse Comics.[1]

Plot

Wataru and his partner Babo, two black market merchants with no morals to speak of, get caught up in a battle between the Helgebard Empire and the mysterious girl Mian Toris. To reward Wataru for saving her life, Mian collars both Wataru and Babo and declares them to be her pets. While dragging them across the continent, they learn that Mian's destination is a head-on confrontation with Shion, the empress of the Helgebard Empire itself, at Kyuraweil Keep.

Characters

Wataru
A human black marketeer and partner of Babo who gets caught up in Mian's scheme to destroy the Helgebard Empire.
Mian Toris
A young lady whose sword can even destroy armored tanks. In reality, she is a breaker.
Babo
An Akogi businessman of non-existent moral character, motivated only by the acquisition of more wealth.
Empress Shion
Supreme commander of Helgebard; she rules with an iron fist but her fate seems inextricably bound with Mian's.

Review

Caravan Kidd is a graphic novel which somewhat deceives, because it seems at first another light-hearted manga story: a lot of comic situations between the main characters, which are chased by the bad and clumsy guys of the Empire. But as the story goes on, the mood goes darker and gloomier, and although there are still comical breaks, the real (and very serious) motivations of the main characters are slowly revealed to you. Until when, near the end of the series, you suddenly become aware of the great tragedy that surrounds the most powerful characters of the series: Mian Toris and the Empress Shion. They both are fighting to escape a fate which none of them have chosen, but, at the end, they can't avoid being victims of that fate...both of them.

Maybe the most striking of all is when you realize that there is no bad guy at all. Caravan Kidd is mainly a story about the clash of two willpowers, but at the end you understand that both points of view are equally legitimated, and even encourageable, as both are related to such a human desire as is the perpetual search for freedom and free will... even if the cost to pay for is sometimes too high.

About the graphic art, it's Manabe-style, with lots of humanoid critters and hi-tech as background, and the overall quality of the artwork (specially the main characters) greatly improves as the series goes on. But what really makes the difference between Caravan Kidd and other better known works of the same author, like Outlanders and Drakuun, is the plot and the characters. Both of them are of far greater complexity (excepting Babo, who is used as the comic relief) , and if you get "hit" by them, you are going to spend hours and hours reading and re-reading the books, and wondering about the full meaning of such a moving story as this one.

Maybe the only negative point is that, although there is an open end, there have been no more follow-ups, so you are left in the cold, craving for more...

References

  1. "Caravan Kidd #3." Dark Horse Comics. Retrieved on September 10, 2009.
tl:Caravan Kidd

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