Title:Grey – Hello Winter Vol. 1 Author: thegreyroom_ Publisher: thegreyroom_ Language: English Format: Digital Pages: 136 Genre: Shonen, Sci-fi, Action Publication Date: September 19, 2022
Shuyin Hagamuri is a member of an investigative team known as Nimbus. During Fashion Fest, a terrorist attack occurred. Since then, Shuyin has been on the hunt for the one responsible and it appears that he has a past with the culprit.
The first volume sets this up with an introduction to the city of Nacirena and its history after dealing with a deadly nano-virus. After the incident, Nimbus was appointed as the guardian force and the people elected a woman named Belisia Asuhara as their leader.
The person behind the terrorist attack has resurfaced and, through the usage of one of her accomplices, pulled off a heist of a certain mask. Other incidents occur and with each one, a quote from one of Shuyin’s mother’s books are left behind. With the help of Kale Schaefer, a member of Nimbus who serves as their analyst and intelligence, they begin to start making connections. When the culprit is discovered, Shuyin can’t help but feel a personal connection to the case.
A big break from the cast comes when a pattern emerges. With each incident, people are killed and then posed. Just as the information is gleaned, we are thrown into the ending, leaving us on a cliffhanger.
I guess one of the first criticisms I have of this series is the massive cast. For a first volume with just five chapters, I feel that there were too many characters introduced in such a short amount of time without allowing the reader to breathe in and get to know them. Even though I am writing this review fresh from reading the first volume, I’m having to go back and research people’s names because none of them really did much to remain embedded in my mind… and this includes the main character, Shuyin, whom I’m only remembering because I just happened to look up at my story synopsis and see that I wrote his name (after looking him up).
Our main character Shuyin obviously has a past with a girl named Winter. Not much backstory is given on this but he’s on the Nimbus team and can apparently make ice walls with a special power he has. I can tell you that his mother is an author and that he’s being given clues in the form of quotes from her book. Outside of this, he seems mild-mannered at times and a bit on edge the rest of the time. In that regard, the main character seems kind of flat but I believe that’s because there wasn’t enough time spent setting him up and fleshing out the reasons why he was on Nimbus, where he came from, etc.
Winter, on the other hand, served as a pseudo component to help fill in those blanks with Shuyin. Apparently, she was thought to have died after she killed a clan and then her own but resurfaced. She has a connection with Shuyin and a deep animosity towards him as she desires to take everything away from him. While that was established, nothing was really stated about what that was, why she killed off a few clans, etc. Normally, stuff like that is saved for future volumes so it does add intrigue to the character.
After those two, I honestly couldn’t tell you much about anyone else without having to re-read the entire volume a few times. On to Final Thoughts to offer up an explanation.
First, off, I will say that the premise of this manga is not bad. It’s actually quite intriguing and shows a lot of promise; however, the execution of that premise is what caused this to be a difficult read.
First and foremost, some of the basic rules for manga were not followed here. Manga is read from right to left and while this manga is formatted in such a way, the page layouts are not. Everything goes top to bottom, right to left in a normal manga but each page is read from left to right like an American graphic novel. So you start on the right page and read left to right on that right page, then move on to the left page and read left to right again. After coming off two manga reviews from VIZ, adjusting to that format change was quite jarring and it took me almost a full chapter to figure out what was going on. The dialogue just wasn’t making sense until I noticed the layout of the panels was incorrectly done. Once I figured it out, it was fine but having to stop and think about how to read the manga because it broke the conventional layout method took me out of it a bit.
Second, any and all flashback panels in any manga I’ve read have a black background. Those black backgrounds were largely absent here so when I turn a page and go from Shuyin meeting up with his mother to having a sword stuck through his head by Winter at Fashion Fest to going right back to talking to his mother on the next page, it was extremely jarring and confusing. (plus, how did he survive being impaled and then appearing behind Winter? A little bit of an explanation would have helped there). There were some instances where it was labeled “2 Years Ago” but then we were brought right back to modern time within a page with no warning. Transitions like that are extremely important and there wasn’t much of that here if any at all outside of some vague indicators.
Lastly, the cast. I felt as if character after character was just being thrown at me. Some of which just seemed to pop up out of nowhere with little explanation. Having a large cast is fine but you have to ease your reader into it. To be honest, you could quiz me on the different characters just seconds after finishing a readthrough and I’d probably fail. I get who the characters of Nimbus are, and I get who Winter is, but outside of that, everything else just seems quite random. This also creates a pacing issue. I don’t feel as if the manga took enough time to let the story breathe. It moved from scene to scene and pushed everything forward but when you have a large cast, you need to slow the pacing down and take some time to offer up some better information on who you’re introducing so the reader can get to know them.
In comparison, this felt a lot like Sui Ishida’s Tokyo Ghoul where the reader was expected to memorize every ghoul, every CCG member, every faction, and the dozens of characters within each after only being introduced to them for a brief moment. Heck, even after 30 volumes of Tokyo Ghoul, I still can’t tell you who everyone was. Balance is needed and Grey-Hello Winter suffered from a lack of it.
While those are the negatives, there are also a lot of positives here. Investigative sci-fi stories with some supernatural powers are always a hit and add a bit of spice and flare to the genre so any new addition is welcome. Grey-Hello Winter’s concepts aren’t really anything new, per se, but it does have the makings of a series that could be intriguing. I can tell that it’s trying to add many layers to its story to create this deep, interwoven tale and I commend the author for attempting it. The execution just needs to be a bit better for it to truly work.
As I opened my Final Thoughts, the manga wasn’t bad. I did like the overall setting and premise but the execution just wasn’t there. Despite the issues, it was a valiant effort and I still encourage people to check it out. The artwork was pretty well done and while parts were confusing, none of them seemed to drag or remain stuck on a certain bit for too long. Perhaps that’s both a good and bad thing given the pacing issue that was aforementioned but I’ll let you be the judge of that as different people have different tastes and this style of pacing could very well work for you.