Yuu Watase's Arata the Legend debuted last year in Japan, which makes the fact that we already have an English language release all the more impressive. Typically manga takes a little longer to make its way to our shores, but VIZ Media obviously wanted to get its hands on this license as soon as possible. With that in mind we dig into the first volume. Was it worth getting this manga to the masses as quickly as it did?
Arata the Legend takes place in another world where things are a little different than they are here. Some of the women can use magic known as Amatsuriki, while the men are powerless and can only use abilities from ancient weapons known as Hayagami. Their world is in turmoil and some things are set in motion before the book even begins, so readers may be a little fuzzy on the details because the book simply doesn't delve into the story's history.
Basically all one needs to know is the people of this world worship a princess who is only supposed to rule for a certain amount of time. Unfortunately, her replacement can only come from a particular clan, and they simply haven't produced a girl for quite a while. That's where Arata from the Hime Clan comes in, but he doesn't have the right "equipment" to take over for the current princess. His grandmother lied about his gender when he was born and has told him it is his destiny to portray a girl and take over the throne. Naturally he doesn't want that.
One thing leads to another, and there's some political upheaval as Arata is falsely accused of murdering the princess. Soon he's chased into a mysterious forest, and we're told that the only way he'll emerge is if he becomes a different person. From there, the book changes gears to current day Japan where a high school student, also named Arata (let's call him Arata-B), is trying to get through his every day life. He's picked on at school and in general finds that he doesn't have any trustworthy friends. Through a set of circumstances he and the other world Arata switch places and visit each other's worlds.
To say that Arata-B is lost from the get-go would be an understatement. He's being hunted for murdering the princess; Arata-A's grandmother is trying to shove destiny crap down his throat; and some of Arata-A's servants are clamoring over him. To make matters even more challenging for Arata-B, he is chosen by a magical Hayagami blade and bestowed with the power of wind. From this point on he takes steps towards fulfilling his destiny in this strange new world, and there's even a meeting with Arata-A where they talk about these things.