This was my first manga. I started reading it early during its run in America, and it had me hooked at the first volume. I remember begging to go to the book store to grab the latest book as it came out, and then in short order reading it and eagerly anticipating the next one. I loved Levin's mini-stories, and even the choose-your-own-adventure that where at the back. I loved all the main and secondary characters, and even loved some of the Demon Card members too. The story was cool, and at times saddening and tragic. All in all, it was awesome and one of the reasons I started wanting to write. Nice, clean manga: I can count on one hand the number of panty shots in the entire series, which with almost three hundred chapters is impressive. I would definatly recomend this to someone thinking about reading manga.
I started reading Rave Master after I started reading and watching Fairy Tail. I had high expectations for it since it was another one of Hiro Mashima's works. So when I read the first 100 chapters I wasn't disappointed at all!
The story is really good and it's very easy to get into it. It's very simple. Boy lives happily with his sister on an island, he meets a strange old man with a powerful weapon and he gets drawn in the old man's mission. The story is not complex at all and is really easy to understand. It is also very good and as it progresses there are some very nice revelations.
The art is probably the only thing I didn't really enjoy that much. It's okay and it's not something that'll get you to dislike the manga but I believe Hiro could have done a better job. Still the art is decent enough and it's not a huge problem.
The characters are really good too. There's unique ones like Elie, funny ones like Griff and bold ones like Haru and Musica. The good characters can be different in some aspects but they all share one trait and that's their adventurous side. The villains are also quite unique. The first major villain Gale Raregroove is one of those villains that had it rough in his past but at the end he turned out to be a good person deep down. I haven't really read the whole series so I can't say anything else about the villains but from what I've seen they are all different from each other.
Overall from the 105 chapters I've read of Rave Master I can honestly say it is a very good fantasy/adventurous manga and I would recommend it to anyone that likes those genres. I'm currently not reading it because I would like to save it for when I have nothing to read but I will continue reading it in the future for sure!
I'll admit that I dropped this 3 or 4 times before I finally get into it enough to read it. Why is that? Because the first 50 or so chapters are complete garbage. I mean I know some Shounen stories might start weak - for example Kekkaishi is pretty dull until some real opponents appear - but Rave master wins in term of crappiest beginning. Not only the pace is completely off (waaay too fast dialogues) but also the ideas for power seems pretty cheap. Explosive sword called "Explosion"? What kind of lame power is that? Putting my whining aside, once the story gets rolling (Haru's father arc, or even Sieg Hart arc already) it actually starts getting enjoyable. It takes a while for dialogues to slow down, and there are still some lame powers appearing from time to time, but basicly it somehow manages to catch up to the level of average shounen battle manga.
Story - 5.5/10
So the world is in grave danger again. Our little, troubled fantasy land is plagued with evil stones "Dark Brings" that give ppl extraordinary powers. And to battle them a stone of everything that's good "Rave" is needed, and a swordsman who can yield it's powers - Haru Glory, a second rave master. As you can see the setting is dull and unorginal, and the naming sense is quite... silly. And as you could expect of Shounen the story progresses in somewhat predictable fashion... to a point. First arcs are pretty much one pattern - "Haru travels in search of Rave, meets some Demon card members, defeats them, maybe gets a companion in the proccess, proceed further". The twists start to appear after Haru's father arc, since instead of classical "kill all the important figure of the organisation and fight the boss" pattern we are suddenly faced with a lot of different organisations (sort of like how One piece handles things). Of course it doesn't change the "look for rave, defeat evildoers, get companion/rave " pattern, but at least it's not so obvious who wil be the next oponent. And then with the progress of the story, and more info about the nature of Rave/Darkbring, Ellies memories and truth of the world the setting is getting slightly more interesting.
Now probably the most annoying part is that main characters don't die. If you are some minor character like family member that haven't been around much or a random nice guy, party met yesterday you can be killed easily. But if you are a Rave master companion than even if you use the ultimate technique that sacrifice your life for immense power you will still live.I know that many Shounen goes this road, but I simply don't like it. The fact that major characters can die is what brings thrill to the battles. There is one exception of this rule (one important character actually dies) , but it's not in the battle, so it doesn't really count.
Not bad, but seen better - that's the best way to describe the large army of characters in this series. Some of them have nice stories, but they are still really flat. Rave master is a good person, because he is good and he is a Rave master - that's how you can sum up main char, and in similar way most of the characters work. They tend to spout the usual Shounen nonsense about "nakamas" and sacrificing their lives (probably they also know author won't kill them anyway, so they can act cocky). The villains are somehow more interesting, since they tend to have some interesting traumas, that made them turn evil. I can somehow sympathize more with a guy who wants to destroy everything in order to forget about his family being murdered, than with a person who just likes to experiment, or simply likes battles (not pointing fingers at any other Shounen mangas :P).
But there is something that raises the value of those characters and that is, unexpectedly, romance. While from a "Romance manga" point of view, focus on it is really weak, from a Shounen manga point of view it's pretty well done. Reliationship between Ellie and Haru is build slowly in some casual talk,leaning on each other in hard moments and helping one another. Once Ellies starts becoming more and more important their romance also gets more hightlight, with the dramatic and well execute finale (+ a bit forced, and not so well executed epilogue :P). Let and Julia story also isn't done bad, but since Julia isn't a well developed character, the relationship still feels inferior to ElliexHaru
And there is of course Sieg Hart- while he doesn't appear that often, he has one of the best parts in this story imo. Can't really write more without spoiling, but I can say I really liked his role in "Ellies past arc".
It starts ugly, and gradually gets better. But it never gets really great. The style is simlar to One piece, which is in my opnion a weak point. While this art goes well with comedy approach and some "pissed off getting ready to fight" poses, it doesn't support "various emotions" and "heated battle" situations well. Sure, it does somehow deal with them, but it's not on pair with how "classical drawing style" can picture them. Still character design in general wasn't bad, and most of the main characters looked cool and original enough.
If you need something that's 110% Shounen battle manga, and already read all the NAruto/Bleach/One piece/Kekkaishi/Kenichi/Some other major mangas I forgot than sure you can give this one a shot. But you'll need some patience with the first chapters. After that - it is an enjoyable and light read.
A new rave master has appeared, destined to collected the scattered raves in order to save the world. Meeting different people along the way, the rave master helps to make the world a better place for all.
With any manga which goes on for a while (and Rave is certainly one of them at 35 volumes), there is always the danger of it going on for too long, with a lack of a strong storyline, resulting in it being dragged out to the limit. And to some extent that's what we find happening in Rave. The characters spend so long helping other people and levelling up that you find yourself having to literally drag yourself along through the pages in a hope that it gets better.
That being said, when it does get better, you're already at the end and in terms of endings, Rave does have one which I did throughly enjoy and its just a shame that it took 33 volumes in order to get there. So despite having a struggling plot ideas throughout the series once it does get going, it doesn't stop drawing you into the story in a brilliant way. Its for thsi reason that storywise, Rave doesn't score higher than a 6.
The consistancy in the artwork is apparent throughout the series with the same high quality drawings seen and it doesn't let you down when it comes to the big action shots. You might not like the artistic style of the manga, but you can't fault how it is maintained throughout.
Rave certainly does have its mix of characters and while you're constantly being shown the backgrounds or different sides to their personalities, it is certianly hard to keep track of where everyone is. And while I enjoyed the range of characters in the series, there were three that I hated with a passion and surely those of you who've read it would understand when I say, "the ones with the bums". These characters were rather crude and failed to add anything to the story and in fact annoyed me to the point of where I still remember them sticking out.
However, the slow character development seen throughout the series does end in a brilliant climax, which when it does come makes you realise that in someways it was worth the wait.
If your into the type of series which goes on forever and eventually gets to the world stopping conclusion which once you start reading you simply have to continue to the finish, then Rave is for you. Apart from this, Rave will probably struggle to pick up readers due to its length. If you can get over that fact you'll most likely enjoy it.